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Many Iowa sheriffs still have grave concerns about a new state gun law, but they will issue permits to carry weapons as required, two leading sheriffs said today.

Sheriffs will no longer be able to require gun owners to keep their weapons concealed when they’re in public, under a new law state lawmakers approved last spring that takes effect in January.

Nor can sheriffs restrict individuals from carrying a handgun while consuming alcohol, according to leaders with the Iowa State Sheriffs and Deputies Association.

“The Iowa Legislature has spoken, and Iowa sheriffs intend to fulfill their professional responsibility to uphold the laws of Iowa,” said Bremer County Sheriff Duane Hildebrandt, who becomes president of the sheriffs’ association next year.

Iowans can seek a permit under the new law starting Jan. 3.

In an unusual pairing, Democratic leaders in the Iowa House, Iowa Senate and governor’s office sided with the National Rifle Association last session and not with the sheriff’s association, which strongly opposed the gun legislation.

The NRA successfully fought to make Iowa a “shall issue” state where sheriffs in all 99 counties must follow the same rules for issuing gun permits. It’s a gun bill that Republicans failed to move when they controlled the governor’s office or Iowa Legislature.

Gun rights advocates had maintained that certain Iowa sheriffs routinely denied people guns without good cause.

The sheriffs’ association said sheriffs currently issue more than 36,000 weapons permits statewide a year, and deny few permits.

Many Iowa sheriffs – but not all – dislike the new law, saying it doesn’t require proper training for carrying in public.

Hildebrandt said today that sheriffs expect Iowans to line up for the new weapon-carry permits.

The new permit will be popular because it’s good for five years rather than one, and because sheriffs can’t restrict it in any way, he said.

The new law requires sheriffs to issue permits to carry weapons to Iowans who aren’t disqualified by short list of state or federal restrictions, and who have completed minimal training called for in the legislation.

Firearms qualification for new permit applicants is also no longer required, Hildebrandt said. That means people who have never had a permit before can get one after sitting through a classroom presentation; they don’t need to show proficiency in using a gun.

Source: Jennifer Jacobs for Desmoinsregister.com.

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