Judge tells sheriff issue permit, study First Amendment
A federal judge in Iowa has ordered the sheriff of Osceola County to issue a gun permit to a local resident that had been previously denied, apparently because of his First Amendment activities, and also ordered the sheriff to take a college-level course “involving the First Amendment.”
US District Court Judge Mark W. Bennett issued the ruling in early July in a case involved Paul Door, a resident of Ocheyedan, and his son, Alexander. Both were denied gun permits by Sheriff Douglas L. Weber.
According to the Sioux City Journal, Bennett noted in his ruling that “This court finds a tsunami, a maelstrom, an avalanche, of direct, uncontroverted evidence in Sheriff Weber’s own testimony to conclude beyond all doubt that he unquestionably violated the First Amendment rights of at least Paul Dorr.”
Des Moines Gun Rights Examiner Sean McClanahan noted that the ruling would “remove the sheriff’s discretion over the issuance of an Iowa (permit.)”
“This action should serve as a wake-up call to Iowa Sheriffs,” McClanahan wrote. “Since 1913, sheriffs have had the ability to deny an Iowa Permit to Carry Weapons (PCW) to anyone for any reason. Some sheriffs have done a better job with that power than others, and it is because of this uneven application of their discretion that citizens have said enough. Lawmakers agreed, and Iowa will transition to a Shall Issue permit system on Jan. 1, 2011.”
During the trial, Weber acknowledged that he had denied Paul Door’s permit because of his “lousy reputation due to his political activities of writing letters to the editor and distributing fliers,” the judge wrote in his ruling. Weber also used as a reason for denial that there was “concern from public. Don’t trust him,” the newspaper reported.
Dorr, the newspaper said, had previously held a permit from the late 1990s to 2005. When he applied for a permit in July 2007, Weber denied the application. In 2008, the sheriff also denied a permit application to the younger Dorr, then 18.
Weber also reportedly testified that Paul Dorr had been described as “a whacko, delusional, a nut job, a spook, and a narcissist.”
But the judge noted in his opinion that, “Giving Sheriff Weber more deference than is due his elected status, the court finds that Sheriff Weber denied Paul’s application for a concealed weapons permit not because of the content of his First Amendment activity but because it was effective and agitated many members of the local community.”
Perhaps in his most blistering remark, the judge added, “In denying Paul a concealed weapons permit, Sheriff Weber single-handedly hijacked the First Amendment and nullified its freedoms and protections.”
The judge was not so accommodating for the younger Dorr, siding with the sheriff for having exercised his discretion to deny a permit application for someone under the age of 21.