The mainstream media is alarmed at the growing rate of lawful firearms ownership and the press thinks you should be worried about it too. The Des Moines Register in Iowa breathlessly reports in an article titled, “Iowa Gun Law Concerns Some Sheriffs” that concealed carry (CCW) permits increased in some counties by 380 percent from 2010-2011. CCW permits statewide have jumped 158 percent in Iowa since 2010.
If the Register is to be believed (and it is not), this is a tremendous danger to everyone and the sheriffs in Iowa counties are now frustrated that they have to lawfully issue CCW permits to “non-professionals.”
So why did so many Iowans suddenly become CCW holders all at once?
The answer was a simple change in the law that expanded the freedoms of the Iowa citizenry. The Iowa legislature passed a pro-Second Amendment law in 2010 to switch from a “may issue” state to a “shall issue” state. “May issue” states often allow the issuing authority to use the most restrictive standards possible to prevent Americans from obtaining a concealed carry permit.
For example, New Jersey had the most anti-2nd Amendment restrictions imaginable under its “may issue” laws. Ordinary citizens had to “specify in detail the urgent necessity for self-protection, as evidenced by specific threats or previous attacks which demonstrate a special danger to the applicant’s life that cannot be avoided by means other than by issuance of a permit to carry a handgun.”
Even after identifying a specific threat, a police chief or attorney general could still deny the permit. Unless a thug with an axe was kicking in their front door, residents of the Garden State were better off not wasting their time or their $200 application fee. Governor Chris Christie finally loosened this unfair restriction in 2016.
Before the 2011 law went into effect, each of Iowa’s 99 sheriffs were allowed to determine the reasons for whether they would or would not issue a permit. This effectively set up 99 different interpretations of the Second Amendment. It caused widespread confusion among gun owners and effectively blocked thousands from exercising their Second Amendment right to self-defense.
This same confusion is present in California today. In rural areas of the state, more conservative sheriffs interpret the “good cause” for obtaining a CCW permit very loosely. In the deep blue metro areas such as San Francisco and Los Angeles, the state’s “may issue” law is interpreted as “never.”
While it is frustrating to read through the condescension of the Des Moines Register’s anti-gun coverage, the article contains some excellent markers for what happens when a state chooses freedom for its citizens. The Linn County Sheriff issued 1,433 CCW permits in 2010 when Iowa was a “may issue” state compared to 5,298 permits in 2011 under the “shall issue” law. In 2016 the same county issued a whopping 8,351 permits! It is clear that thousands of additional Americans would like to have a concealed carry permit but don’t bother to apply based on the application of “may issue” laws.
One thing the Register failed to check was the immediate impact the “shall issue” law may have had on violent crime rates in Iowa. According to the FBI’s Annual Crime Reports, overall violent crimes in Iowa fell from 268.5 per 100,000 in 2010 to 257.3 in 2011. That is the lowest that Iowa’s overall violent crime rate has been since 1988! We should all be shouting that statistic from the rooftops.
Instead, the Des Moines Register refers to all of Iowa’s new CCW permit holders as “non-professionals” and the “shall issue” law is portrayed in the most negative light possible. According to the Register, Iowa’s “shall issue” law took away the discretion that sheriffs had to refuse permits to all of the “non-professional” Iowans.
Linn County Sheriff Brian Gardner (a Democrat, of course) stated, “There are people out there that I know I am issuing permits to, that the law forces me to, that shouldn’t have a weapon.” Right… and somehow Iowa’s violent crime rate fell to Reagan-era levels after Gardner was forced to issue those permits!
If anyone ever tries to slap you with the “non-professional” label, just remember former DEA Agent Lee Paige. In 2004, Paige held up his sidearm in front of a classroom full of students and declared, “I’m the only one in this room professional enough, that I know of, to handle this Glock .40.” Former Agent Paige then immediately (and literally) shot himself in the foot and became a YouTube superstar.
In summary, when Iowa made a simple change in its laws to convert to a “shall issue” state, CCW permit holders increased 380 percent and the overall violent crime rate fell to a 29-year low. This is a powerful argument for doing away with unconstitutional “may issue” laws that place gun owners at the mercy of permit issuers.
~ American Gun News