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Several local sheriffs expressed concerns Tuesday about a proposed bill that would eliminate the requirement to obtain a permit to carry or buy a gun in Iowa.

West Liberty Police Chief Katy Kinmonth said approval of the bill may be “problematic.”

“You would likely have many more people without any type of training carrying guns,” he said.

The department would probably get more calls than they do now, Kinmonth said, about a person carrying a gun in a public place. And although felons aren’t allowed to buy or carry guns, the bill would make it “much more difficult to control.”

Senate File 2106, if passed, would allow a “law-abiding citizen” to acquire and carry a gun without a state permit.

Anyone who buys a gun from a federally-licensed firearms dealer would still be required to have a valid permit to carry and complete a federal background check. 

The legislation was under consideration in February 2018 but was pulled from the Senate Judiciary Committee following a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., that left 17 people dead.

“The concern that I would have is that if we have somebody who has gone from the status of being a ‘law abiding citizen’ to no longer qualifying…under the current law, the sheriff’s office is able to take their permit,” said Scott County Sheriff Tim Lane. “I’m not familiar with how that individual under the new law would become notified that they are no longer eligible to carry."

That would be concerning in cases involving a permit carrier who is suffering from mental illness, he said.

“Most people’s concerns about firearms are that they fall into the hands of people who are not mentally stable,” he said. “And that’s what we need to look at the hardest when it comes to creating a law such as this.”

Muscatine's Big River Guns owner Scott Lucas's concern was ensuring the Constitution is followed.

"Well, I'm all about making sure Second Amendment rights are followed," said Scott Lucas, "and not to make more red tape over the Second Amendment with restrictions and so forth."

He said his shop on Park Avenue will still conduct background checks if the bill passes. He said he didn't know if the elimination of permit requirements would bring more business to his store because "people that can't get guns still won't be able to get them from the background checks."

Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds told reporters Tuesday that she still supports the 2010 “shall issue” bill, which she voted for while she was in the Senate. That bill standardized how gun permits are issued and included background checks and required weapons training.

“I think that was a good piece of legislation,” she said. “I think that was the right thing to do. We’ll wait and see how the legislation proceeds here in the Legislature.”

She added that she is keeping an open mind and that “we’ll see what kind of traction it has and where it goes.”

Lane said the sheriff’s department has issued thousands of permits over the years. On average, they revoke one to two permits a month, he said.

Bettendorf Police Chief Keith Kimball said he has not yet read the proposed bill but said in general that “the current Iowa law in regards to permits to purchase and permits to carry being administered by the sheriff’s (office) at the county level has worked well.”

“I am also in favor that some type of background check should be conducted and be required by law when purchasing a firearm,” he said.

Lane said he could support the proposed legislation “as long as it has wording that covers my concerns.”

Davenport Police declined comment.

Jeanelle Westrom, owner of Davenport Guns & Shooting Club, said she supports constitutional carry.

“However, just because you have that right, doesn’t mean that you don’t to be a responsible member of society and still get proper training so you’re safe and secure,” she said. “We like it (constitutional carry) and we want people to be trained.”

-Meredith Roemerman of the Muscatine Journal contributed to this report.

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