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Gun laws

January 25, 2011
Estherville News

To the editor:

I'm writing in response to the recent proposals by local governments to ban weapons on county or city owned property. Carrying a weapon with a permit is nothing new and has been legal in Iowa for years. Iowa's permit to carry system recently changed from "may issue" to "shall issue". What's the difference? Under "may issue" a citizen's ability to receive a permit varied greatly depending on the county of residence. The application process in some counties was straightforward and fair, but in other counties it was nearly impossible to obtain a permit. It all depended on the philosophy and political beliefs of the county sheriff. "Shall issue" makes the process to acquire a permit consistent state-wide. Applicants must be at least 21years old, pass the National Instant Criminal Background Check (FBI), receive gun safety/legal training, must not be addicted to alcohol, not adjudicated mentally incompetent, and not had any offenses involving violence in the last three years. Applicants must still apply at their county sheriff's office and the sheriff may still deny an application, but now the sheriff must specify why the permit was denied and the applicant can appeal the denial. Concealed carry is legal in 48 states, and "shall issue" is the law in 38 of those states. Some people with anti gun/anti self-defense beliefs try to characterize anyone who chooses to carry a firearm as a "gun nut", but FBI statistics show that concealed carry permit holders are among the most law-abiding citizens in the country. Approximately 1,200 Dickinson County residents (over 7 percent of the county) possess a carry permit.

The question was asked, "Why would anyone feel the need to carry a weapon?" A firearm carried by a law-abiding citizen for self-defense is an emergency response tool. Would you wear your seat belt only when you knew you were going to have an accident, or buy a fire extinguisher only when you planned to have a house fire? Of course not, you prepare in case of emergency. You hope and pray you never have to use a firearm in defense, but you prepare in case you are thrust into a horrible situation. We are fortunate to live in a relatively safe area with excellent law enforcement, but bad things can happen to good people. Consider what happened to the convenience store workers in Algona and Humboldt recently. It's unrealistic for anyone to think they could be a super-hero and save the day, but how would you feel if you stepped out of a convenience store restroom as shots were fired? You may be able to run, you may be able to hide, but wouldn't you want the option of having a tool to defend yourself if that was your only option? Gun-free zones only take the right of self-defense away from law-abiding citizens. Criminals, by their very nature, do not obey laws. A sign on the door will not stop a deranged person or determined criminal. Most mass shootings occur in "gun-free" zones. One of our county supervisors commented that he felt he needed to ban weapons from all county buildings to protect the public. Protect the public from what? Law-abiding citizens who have passed the NICS background check, studied gun safety and laws, and applied for the permit to carry from their county sheriff? This makes no logical sense.

Last week Myrna Loehrlein circulated a letter state-wide calling guns a health hazard and advocating banning guns. Firearms are dangerous by design, but they are also used by law enforcement and by private citizens to stop or prevent crime. If all it takes to solve a problem is enacting another law, why don't we just make it illegal to murder people? Oh that's rightmurder is already against the law. We haven't been able to stop the flow of illegal drugs, why would any sane person think we could prevent all criminals from accessing illegal guns? Denying law-abiding citizens their rights granted by the 2nd Amendment is not the answer.

Greg Forney

Spirit Lake, IA



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