Lawsuit aims to test Iowa's concealed weapons law | DesMoinesRegister.com | The Des Moines Register
Lawsuit aims to test Iowa's concealed weapons law
By LEE ROOD • email@example.com • November 3, 2008
An Ocheyedan man has filed a federal class-action lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of an Iowa law that requires individuals obtain a permit to carry a concealed weapon.
Paul Dorr, 52, said Thursday that Osceola County Sheriff Douglas Weber wrongly denied on a political whim his and his 18-year-old son's requests for permits to carry concealed weapons.
Dorr filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Sioux City against Weber and Osceola County because Weber turned down the permit applications of both Dorr and his son in 2007. Dorr alleges that the sheriff denied his Second Amendment right to bear arms and 14th Amendment right to due process. "He just denied my permit to carry without foundation," said Dorr, a consultant for taxpayer and political groups. "That denial just brought to mind the lack of objective process that Iowa code allows for sheriffs."
Dorr is bringing the lawsuit on behalf of anyone who has been denied a permit to carry in Iowa. The case is believed to be the first of its kind challenging part of a state code that gives sheriffs discretion in deciding who should receive permits to carry concealed weapons, according to the Iowa attorney general's office.
It is also believed to be one of the first lawsuits since a U.S. Supreme Court decision in June called into question the constitutionality of some state and local gun permit ordinances. The decision, District of Columbia vs. Heller, shot down the district's gun ban, saying it violated an individual's right to bear arms.
At least 35 states — including Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri and Nebraska — now mandate that concealed weapons permits be approved if applicants meet a set of criteria laid out in state law. For the second time in two years, Iowa groups such as the Iowa State Rifle and Pistol Association and IowaCarry.org are supporting a legislative proposal that would make Iowa's permit process more uniform and take discretion away from sheriffs.
The code allows sheriffs to grant permits to carry provided applicants are 18 or older, have never been convicted of a felony, are not addicted to drugs or alcohol, and have no history of violence. The law also requires that "the issuing officer reasonably determine that the applicant does not constitute a danger to any person."
Dorr said he was granted a permit to carry without incident from 2001 to 2007, but that changed when he went to renew his permit in August 2007. His application, he said, came after he had questioned spending within the sheriff's department and the salary of the local county attorney.
Dorr said Weber, elected in 2005, denied his permit, saying that there were people in the county who were afraid of him.
Weber said he would not comment on the lawsuit because he had not yet been served and he had not consulted an attorney. Robert Hansen, the county attorney, did not return a phone call Thursday seeking comment.