SIOUX CITY | Siouxland gun advocates say a proposed U.S. Senate bill requiring states to honor all concealed-carry permits would ease the anxiety of travelers who carry firearms.
Paul Barrett, the owner of a Sioux City gun store, said the bill would help people who are not familiar with concealed-carry laws in other states. Barrett holds permits in multiple states.
“People travel every summer, and they want to protect themselves while they’re away from home,” said Barrett, who owns Shooters Paradise in Morningside. “Some states won’t honor Iowa’s permit.”
The Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2015, as written, would make concealed-carry permits universal across all 50 states. The bill would not include Native American reservations, which issue their own gun permits, in accordance with agreements between the federal government and Indian tribes.
The bill was sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee in February.
It could be a while before the bill gains further traction, said U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, who added committee members are working on other legislation such as an amendment to the Freedom of Information Act.
Grassley, who is chairman of the Judiciary Committee, also said Democrats on the committee could prevent the bill from moving forward in Congress.
“(The bill) has been introduced in several Congresses but was never considered by the Judiciary Committee,” he said.
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, introduced the bill this legislative session. He also introduced the bill in January 2014. The bill has 22 Republican sponsors, including Grassley, and one Democratic sponsor, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W. Va. Other sponsors include Sen. Deb. Fischer, R-Neb., and Sen. John Thune, R-S.D.
Representatives from Interfaith Alliance of Iowa and Iowans for Gun Safety – two Des Moines-based anti-gun groups – said Friday that they were not familiar enough with the bill to comment on it.
If passed, the bill would leave discretion to state governments as to where concealed weapons would be permitted. Iowa’s concealed-carry permit is honored in 30 states, including Nebraska and South Dakota, primarily in the central part of the country. Several states in the Pacific Northwest and on the East Coast do not honor it.
Woodbury County Sheriff Dave Drew said as more people travel with concealed weapons, it’s important for them to familiarize themselves with concealed-carry laws in other states. In 2014, Drew's office issued 953 concealed-carry permits.
“(The bill) would alleviate worries or concerns they may have,” Drew said of permit holders. “By having this law in effect, it would honor all states, coast to coast.”
Other Siouxland sheriffs say the Senate bill would clear up issues when handgun owners unintentionally break the law upon entering a state that doesn’t recognize their permits.
“I think it’s ridiculous the way it is now,” said Union County Sheriff Dan Limoges. “If one individual is legal in South Dakota to carry concealed weapon, why wouldn’t he be legal in all other states?”
In 2014, the Union County Sheriff’s Office issued 341 concealed-carry permits.
Dakota County Sheriff Chris Kleinberg said some states don’t observe Nebraska’s concealed-carry permits, which is becoming an increasing problem as the demand for permits grows.
“They can go into some states and go to jail for that,” Kleinberg said of those who have Nebraska concealed-carry permits. “It’s confusing, and it makes traveling complicated.”
In Nebraska, the State Patrol issues concealed-carry permits; county sheriffs have that authority in Iowa and South Dakota.
The bill would mark one of the most significant changes to Iowa’s concealed-carry permits since former Iowa Gov. Chet Culver signed a state bill in 2011 that streamlined the gun permit process.
The bill changed Iowa from a “may issue” to a “shall issue” state, which made it easier for locals to obtain concealed-carry and gun permits. The bill also took away some discretionary power from Iowa county sheriffs when issuing concealed-carry permits.
Sheriffs previously could deny permits based on experience or dexterity, but the bill narrowed the spectrum of disqualifying factors. Applicants also were required to take a shooting proficiency test, but that was replaced with a firearms safety class.
Drew said the proposed Senate bill would streamline the concealed-carry process across the country, eliminating headaches for law enforcement officers who might currently have to ticket out-of-state handgun owners whose permits aren't recognized in other states.
“People that have a concealed-carry permit are very law-abiding and protective of their rights,” Drew said. “They want to be able to do what is allowed under the Constitution.”