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The DesMoines Register reports that some sheriffs are astonished that when they stop arbitrarily curtailing folks’ rights, people start actually exercising them:

The number of Iowans seeking permits to carry handguns and other weapons has increased 170 percent during the first 11 months of 2011 — a trend one Iowa sheriff calls ‘unbelievable.’

January 1, 2011 is when Iowa’s shall-issue law took effect and immediately, more people started getting permits. Polk county, which includes the Des Moines metro, issued over three-and-a-half times as many permits in 2011 as in 2010 (9,720 versus 2,597). And – shockingly enough – contrary to all the predictions, there has been no blood in the streets. Let’s look at some predictions, shall we?

Back on January 3, 2011, Dean Close of Vinton Today penned the editorial Why many in law enforcement are concerned about Iowa’s new ‘Shall Issue’ gun law, saying:

If – under the new law that went into effect Jan. 1 – Mark Becker had walked into the Butler County Sheriff’s Office on the morning of June 23, 2009, and requested a permit to carry a handgun, that sheriff would have been required by law to issue him one.

I would never accuse a journalist like Dean of being too lazy or incompetent to perform basic research, so he must just be a damned liar. Mark Becker was involuntarily committed three times, was an unlawful user of marijuana and methamphetamine and had a history of violent psychotic outbreaks, any one of which would disqualify him for a permit under Iowa’s new law.

Dean goes on to admit, “That is an extreme example of why many people in law enforcement are concerned about the unintended consequences of Iowa’s new ‘Shall-Issue’ law,” which is awfully magnanimous of him considering that it’s a complete and total fabrication. He offers more faint praise when he says:

Before I go on dissing this “Shall Issue” law, I will acknowledge that the intent for it was good. The Iowa Legislature looked at how county sheriffs seemed to have widely varying policies on issuing gun permits. Some law-abiding citizens who would have received a permit in other counties were denied permits in the county where they live. That seems unjust; the Legislature wanted to fix it. I also understand that most people who have permits to carry firearms do so for legitimate reasons, and that they are law-abiding citizens.

But like many things a government body tries to do, it screwed up on this law.

Just how, in Dean’s opinion, did the government screw up?

Anyone who is not disqualified by law can pay the $50 fee, take a class and be issued a permit to carry a gun. The only way a person can be disqualified is to be convicted of a felony, convicted of domestic abuse, or be certified mentally insane. The law does require a certification course, but not all of those courses actually require a permit holder to shoot the gun.

Dean’s obviously missed a few points like illegal drug use, psychotic breaks and being involuntarily committed, which is different from being certified insane. So from his (skewed) point of view, he was correct. None of the disqualifying factors which he listed applied to Mark Becker when he committed murder.


The morning that his mental illness and other factors led Mark Becker to kill one of America’s coaching legends, none of those disqualifying factors applied to him.

That’s why the old law – the one the Legislature just ended – was designed to give county sheriffs the final say. The politicians of yesteryear understood that a local sheriff would know many people in his own county well enough to know whether or not it’s a good idea to let that person wander virtually every place with a loaded weapon.

I do wonder about one thing that Dean never addresses. Since Mark Becker committed his murder in June of 2009, Iowa’s old permit law was still in effect, so just how in Hades does the new permit law relate to the actions of a psychotic murderer?

The truth is, they don’t relate at all. Mr. Close was trying to link the two completely unrelated events in readers’ minds so that they would be just as fearful at the thought of people exercising their natural, fundamental, and inalienable human, individual, civil, and Constitutional right to keep and bear arms as he appears to be.

The new law allows guns in taverns – as long as the person who is carrying a gun is not legally intoxicated. But up until a person’s BAC reaches .08, the law allows them to be in a bar, drinking, and armed. The permit also lasts for five years, instead of one.

One of the officers I talked to said this change in law will certainly lead to more calls to police from taverns.”

That’s right, the sky is falling. Except, of course, that it didn’t, isn’t and won’t. Minnesota has allowed permit-holders to drink while carrying for over eight years now, and aside from one incident where someone was ejected from Nye’s Polonaise, driven home, retrieved his gun and drove back to shoot the bouncer, there really haven’t been any problems.

The new law would also allow a man to have a loaded rifle or shotgun in the gun rack in the cab of his pickup, said one of the officers. That will present an opportunity for theft, [the officer] said.

That is very true, anyone who is foolish enough to leave firearms in plain sight in a vehicle may well have them stolen. Which is why most gun owners will not be that foolish. I have to wonder, though, what these statements say about the officer’s feelings towards non-cops. Does he think we are all irresponsible morons who are going to get into drunken bar fights or lose our weapons out of the back of our pickup?

The change also means that it’s possible, said another officer, that a person who never fired a gun could end up with a permit to carry one.

Oh, that’s the kind of irresponsible moron they think non-cops are. The type of person who would make the decision to take responsibility for their self-defense, take a class covering the legal aspects of using deadly force and then trust their life and the lives of those around them to a deadly weapon without ever having fired it. Boy the cops in Iowa sure don’t seem to think much of the folks they serve and protect.

Dean then brings out the crying towel:

I know, I know: Most of the people who carry guns are law-abiding citizens. And under the new law, that will still be the case.

But when the new law results in one shooting, one injury or death to an innocent person, that will be one too many.

Okay Dean, but why do you assume that there will be no lives and injuries saved by permit-holders? I know it’s a difficult idea to wrap your brain around, but guns actually do save lives. It happens every day.

In fact, as I showed in this essay, guns in the hands of the law-abiding save (conservatively) almost twice as many lives as there are firearm homicides each year. So how about this: We’ll keep Iowa’s new shall-issue law in place until as many lives have been saved as were lost under the old discriminatory *ahem* I mean discretionary system and then we can evaluate your hysterical claims of bloody mayhem.

And the guys who have been dealing with this issue every day for years tell me that it’s not a question of if such a shooting will happen, but when.

Again with the low opinion of civilians by law enforcement. I ran into this with my best friend with whom I was grew up, who was a New York City cop for 25+ years. He had all sorts of stories about non-LEOs doing idiotic things with guns, but when questioned closely, he did admit that a lot of them were based more in ignorance than malice and had to agree that, if gun ownership weren’t virtually banned in the City, people would not be so ignorant.

Dean goes on:

Under the old law, a person could not obtain a permit if he had a ‘history of repeated acts of violence.’

The change in this law is one example of how modern politicians muddy definitions, make laws unnecessarily complex, and cause innumerable legal cases.

The new law replaces ‘history of repeated acts of violence with, and I quote:

‘Probable cause exists to believe, based upon documented specific actions of the person, where at least one of the actions occurred within two years immediately preceding the date of the permit application, that the person is likely to use a weapon unlawfully or in such other manner as would endanger the person’s self or others.’

So the legislature changed a fuzzy, subjective standard to a defined, objective standard. Wow, it doesn’t get much more scary than that (at least in Dean’s hoplophobic worldview) does it? And notice that someone doesn’t have to be convicted of a violent crime in the previous two years, merely arrested for one. Amazing how liberals are all gung-ho for the presumption of innocence and peoples’ civil rights until the subject comes to guns.

Dean finally hauls out this gem:

Laws are on the books for a reason. When the Iowa Legislature, decades ago, put the local sheriff in charge of gun permits, the leaders knew that the sheriff would know best who should and should not carry a gun in his county.

I certainly hope Dean is merely ignorant and not a racist, but according to my cousins who have lived in Des Moines for the last 75 years or so, the reason local sheriffs were originally put in charge of gun permits was to keep blacks from being able to get one.

Whatever its original intent, the fact is Iowa’s discretionary permit system was being abused by some sheriffs, leading to its replacement. Now that the new system has been in place for almost a year, 3.1% of Iowans have chosen to exercise their rights, there has been no “blood in the streets”, no “parking-spot shootouts” and no “mall massacres.” In short, the sky isn’t falling, and it’s going to be okay. Really.

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  1. Am I crazy, or did Mark Becker in fact use a gun in the murder of Ed Thomas? So under the old law Becker did, in fact, obtain a gun with which he did, in fact commit murder. So that makes the new law bad because, had it been in place at the time, and had Close’s interpretation of that law been correct, Becker hypothetically could have obtained a gun with which to commit murder?

    Damn, that’s some super-special reasoning right there.

  2. This is another example of why I refuse to engage with the Dean Close’s of the world. They know that they are full of sh!t and we know that they are full of sh!t, too. They just don’t care, so why should we?

    • Because if we don’t engage with them we effectively grant them a monopoly in the marketplace of ideas.

      You, I, and they all know who is full of what, but if we remain silent, we doom ourselves, and grant their ideas undeserved legitimacy.

      • I didn’t say that I remain silent. You’re not new to this site, so you know better. I said I don’t engage with the Dean Closes of the world.

        I engage with the HSR47s of the world, who make sense even when I disagree with them.

        • Understandable to a degree; there’s no point in yelling at a brick wall until you’re blue in the face — it just makes you look crazy.

          That said, my point is more in line with what Paul responded with below — namely that, while we are unlikely to convince the people with whom we are directly engaging in the battlefield of ideas, we may STILL convince those on the sidelines to see things from our point of view.

    • What HSR47 said. We won’t convince the Dean Closes of the world in a debate, but we may convince someone in the debate’s audience.

  3. I often wonder what the gun control people think is suppressing the murderous rage that boils away inside people? After all, they’re always saying if people have guns they’ll be killing each other over parking spaces, badly prepared steaks, and shopping mall faux pas, so it must mean people without guns are assaulting and battering each other over parking spaces, badly prepared steaks, and shopping mall faux pas. Because if something is worth shooting someone over, certainly it’s worth punching them or slapping them, right?

    Of course, we don’t have an epidemic of fisticuffs either, so either some force is holding back the rage or maybe our citizenry isn’t composed of a bunch of barely restrained lunatics. Maybe the vast majority are sane, rational people who would like to be able to defend themselves in case they were threatened with serious bodily harm or death and thoughts of revenge on the waiter who gave them their steak well done instead of medium rare never entered their minds, with or without a gun.

  4. Wanna-be tyrants frightened that people they disagree with can now exercise their rights. Nothing more. Such scum have no place in a free society.

  5. The crazy part is that if someone wants to break the law, they don’t need to get a silly permit. Criminals will do as they please and no law will change that fact.

  6. As an Iowan I am embarrassed by the logic and writing ability exhibited by Dean Close. Small town newspapers are notorious for publishing nearly anything, but I’m not sure that Vinton Today is even an actual newspaper.
    I received my carry permit in February, and have been carrying everyday since. Amazingly I haven’t shot anyone yet. Much to Dean’s surprise, I’m sure.

  7. SSDD. I know when they relaxed some of Indiana’s more ridiculous Handgun Laws last Summer, the State Police Chief was predicting blood in the streets and all sorts of dead highway patrol cops. Did not happen. Media went nuts as well, crying doom and despair.

  8. There’s the spin job, Bruce, right there in the first sentence.

    “that some sheriffs are astonished that when they stop arbitrarily curtailing folks’ rights”

    That’s not what sheriffs do. In “may issue” states, the law enforcement people try to use their discretion carefully in order to capture the dangerous ones, whom they are in a perfect position to identify, and NOT arbitrarily curtail anyone else’s rights.

    • Discretion is subjective and since the sheriff’s are human, completely we are unsure, they are subject to the same failings. That being said, they are individuals, that means each and every one of those may issue sheriffs does things or interpets things their own individual way, hence an epic failure by CURTAILING all those innocents. But hey, you actually believe the premise of the fictional movie Minority Report to be true and pre-crime can be evaluated accurately and effectively, ROTFLMFAO, ROTFLMFAO, ROTFLMFAO.

      How inconsistent, how arbitrary, no set limits for such arbitrariness.

      Guess you would appreciate such a selective arbitrariness on your first amendment rights also.

      Yet no evidence on your or the few anti gun trolls left that such arbitrary ka ka has ever prevented a crime.

      Why is it that all those background checks by the BATF since 1994 that less than 1% of those 930,000 felons stopped from buying from a licensed source were actually prosecuted? Based on those actual results, we can CLEARLY see how EFFECTIVE and ACCURATE those subjective law & BATF officials are at CHOOSING whom they believe should carry, LOL. Yet you expect sane people to believe you, ROTFLMFAO, ROTFLMFAO, ROTFLMFAO.

      20,000 plus gun control laws and you have NO evidence those laws are in any way associated in this country much less in any country where they were implemented as reducing violence.

      Such a consistent trend in all your responses Mike!

      • No, Jarhead, I don’t believe in Minority-Report type ability to identify criminals, but I do understand that in a small to medium sized town, the local cops know who the juvenile delinquents are and when they come of age there may be some cases when everyone would be better off is they didn’t get a gun permit.

        Cops also know the wife-beaters who’ve not yet sustained a criminal record for their domestic activities but certainly shouldn’t be carrying.

    • Hiya Mikeb, Allow me to respectfully disagree with your assessment. I live in Iowa City, just two hours down I-80 from Des Moines. The Johnson County Sheriff, before January 1, 2011, almost never issued a permit. He didn’t use his judgment to decide whether someone was sufficiently competent to handle a firearm, and did not make a practice out of meeting with the applicants to conduct a character assessment. He simply denied them their second amendment rights. These shall-issue laws are intended to grant law-abiding citizens (those without histories of violence, domestic charges, or drug charges) the ability to exercise their second amendment rights when they would otherwise be denied by activist law enforcement officials. As much as you would like to believe that law enforcement officials are not influenced by their personal beliefs when it comes to legally carrying, the reality is that they often are. Thus laws must be enacted that, within reason (that’s a favorite phrase of yours, isn’t it?), take away their power to deny us our rights.

      • OK, that’s a good example of a cop abusing his power. What does that prove?

        When cops shoot unarmed people and I accuse them of acting wrongly, people often point out that the vast majority of cops don’t do that.

        Isn’t it the same in this case? Are you guys saying in the matter of issuing permits the vast majority of cops act badly?

        • Hi Mike, how’s the fishing? The point of the article (like so many others) is that yet again a nameless source (law enforcement officer) has been cited, and yet again cried wolf to announce that there will be blood. This has not happened.
          The op-ed piece tries to make more circular logic than you do as it cries about the terrors of citizens actually following the law, then pays lip service to the fact that people tend to do so when the law is not invasive. Go figure?
          As for broad brush statements, such as…
          “Are you guys saying in the matter of issuing permits the vast majority of cops act badly?”
          As a matter of fact, yes.
          Here in the land of milk and beer-farts, openly carrying a firearm has never been a problem. Yet last year our esteemed local police chief Noble Wray (Madison, Wi), made it a point to go after a group of individuals that were just peacefully exercising their rights. What happened? That cost the taxpayers in an out of court settlement and the good chief enjoyed some egg on his face. That one made the news, but what of cases that do not?
          This same chief, under the direction of his liberal master Paul Soglin (mayor) has promised to issue harsh sanctions against the states’ concealed carry laws. The state legislature promptly told him where to get off and he quietly did.
          Santa Clara, California. If you want a legal permit, you had better be a contributor to the campaign.
          New York. You want a what? Law or no law, unless you are a well connected celebrity, fagetaboutit.
          Examples of political chiefs abusing power? What, are you blind?
          Never mind. Continue to spew the normal tripe as the rest of the world turns.

        • I never suggested that all cops ‘behave badly,’ as you say, nor was that my intent. The point was to demonstrate that the practice of LEOs denying our 2A rights is not unprecedented. My community is a good example of that, and I’m willing to bet that my community isn’t the only one with this problem.


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