Proposed legislation aims to privatize gun permit holder info - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Proposed legislation aims to privatize gun permit holder info

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -

A bill making its way through the Iowa Legislature aims to privatize gun permit information.

Currently, the names of firearm permit holders in the state of Iowa is public information. Representative Matt Windschitl (R-Missouri Valley) wants to change that.

This all comes recently after a suburban New York City newspaper published the names and addresses of thousands of permit holders.

Dubuque County sheriff Don Vrotsos said the number of permits issued to carry and purchase a weapon have grown exponentially since January 2011. That's when Iowa became a shall-issue state, meaning sheriffs can no longer deny anybody who applies for a gun permit as long as that person meets certain criteria, such as firearm training.

"The prohibitors would be a felony, a domestic abuse conviction, substance abuse, mental health issues, that type of thing," Vrotsos said Wednesday in his office.

Prior to 2011, Vrotsos said, the sheriff's office issued between 130 to 150 firearm permits per year. In 2011, Vrotsos issued approximately 2,007 permits to carry and 600 permits to purchase. In 2012, Vrotsos issued approximately 1,000 permits to carry and 700 permits to purchase. Just in January 2013, Vrotsos issued 270 permits to carry.

That growth in permit holders means even more people's names are now public record, though Vrotsos said not every piece of information is available.

"There's a lot of identifiers - social security, date of birth, that type of thing - that are on the application, and we don't want that to fall into the wrong hands," Vrotsos said, "so we will provide the name, we could provide the year that person was born but that's pretty much it."

Windschitl proposed legislation that would privatize permit holders' information.

In an Associated Press quote, he said, "this is a public safety matter...This is making sure we are protecting Iowans whether they chose to have a permit or not to."

Windschitl cited concerns public information could lead criminals to the people or homes that have guns. Conversely, criminals could also know which homes to avoid and which are possibly without licensed gun owners.

The Iowa Department of Public Safety said approximately 144,000 Iowa residents have permits to carry a firearm.

Windschitl said his legislation would allow for law enforcement officials to still have access to permit holders' information.

Those in favor of privatizing permit holder information include the National Rifle Association. Those against include the Iowa Newspaper Association, arguing for transparency.

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