Sunday, November 1, 2009

Adventures in the permit process, part I

Iowa is a strange state full of contradictions and competing forces that tear at our identity. Iowa City is as left (or more so) as Berkley or San Francisco, while western Iowa is as conservative as John Wayne ever was.

Maybe this dichotomy explains how we can have a state motto (Our Liberties We Prize, Our Rights We Will Maintain) and a near nanny-state where the state and local governments dictate what can and cannot happen on private property. Our state has a ban on smoking in “public” places like restaurants and bars. How a private business becomes a public place, I have no idea. A few years ago, the Democrats proposed a “register or turn them in or else” assault-weapon ban. Thanks to efforts from Chuck Larson and others in the legislature, that was stopped.

In Iowa we need a permit to purchase handguns legally. (We also have a permit to carry process). Once a year renewals at the sheriff’s office with a NICS check and one is “allowed” to bypass further NICS checks for a year for any firearm purchase and this magic piece of paper is a requirement to legally purchase a handgun from a private sale or your favorite dealer. If not presented at the time of a handgun purchase, both buyer and seller have committed a crime. Immediate family is exempted but only if they are not prohibited from possessing a firearm by state and federal law.

The now-extinct Iowans to Prevent Gun Violence put the screws a few years ago to auctioneers who sold firearms. Now many auctioneers will not sell any firearms at their estate sales without the buyer presenting a “permit to purchase”. There is no law requiring this but I can understand this from a business liability perspective and don’t necessarily blame them. I blame the idiots.

All of this is a background introduction to set up my experiences with obtaining my permission slip to exercise my right. It used to be that I could walk in to the sheriff’s office and pick up the form, fill it out, pay my $5 and return later to pick up my signed permit. That was with previous sheriffs. We have a new boss in town, and I discovered the new rules yesterday.

Previous years, I could pick up my form on a Saturday. Now, office hours are 8:00 – 4:30 weekdays. So I have to take off work early or go in late just to pick up the form. Oh no, the person I talked to couldn’t hand one to me, because that’s not their job duty. Cut backs at the county level have the consequences of making things a little harder for ordinary citizens and no one is at the front desk.

I will return this coming week, fully expecting to be asked for a DNA sample and thumb print (neither of which is mandated by state law – yet).

The requirement to obtain the permit obviously is an infringement of a right, but are these other rules like payments, office hours, thumb prints, etc. an infringement also? Or are they just inconveniences? Actually, having the permit is convenient when purchasing from a dealer and “insurance” for a private sale.

But having more hoops to jump through doesn’t sit well.

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