Proposal Would Allow County Attorneys To Gain More Gun Rights

Jan 22, 2020

A bill that would allow county attorneys and assistant county attorneys to apply for professional weapon permits is taking a step forward in the Iowa Legislature. With a professional permit they would have the same authority as security guards and private investigators to carry a gun in most places where firearms are banned.

Bret Lucas, an assistant Polk County attorney, helped draft the bill (SF 587) because he said it would allow him to better defend himself. At a subcommittee hearing Wednesday, he said he has received numerous death threats while prosecuting criminal cases.

“Sure, some of those are idle threats. It’s venting, things like that,” Lucas said. “But every now and then you come across an individual who truly causes you concern.”

Lucas said his regular concealed carry permit makes him vulnerable because he must leave his gun behind while going to and from buildings that ban firearms.

“I want to follow the law. I think this gives me the ability, or us the ability, to carry to places where we otherwise wouldn’t be able to,” Lucas said. “I don’t think it’s a huge gap that is being bridged but it’s a significant one.”

Even with a professional permit, county attorneys could not carry guns on school grounds and would have to follow the guidelines set by individual courthouses and courtrooms.

No one spoke against the bill, but Susan Daemen of the Iowa State Sheriffs’ and Deputies’ Association said county attorneys should be required to go through additional gun training in order to qualify.

“For a professional permit you do have to train every year and you have to qualify every year and we believe others that get that professional permit should be at the same standard,” Daemen said.

The members of the subcommittee advanced the bill to the full Senate Judiciary Committee with a recommended amendment that would require county attorneys applying for permits to go through training.

The bill is one of several proposals in the state Senate that would expand gun rights. Another proposal that is moving on to the judiciary committee would allow paramedics who work with SWAT teams to apply for professional weapon permits. Two others scheduled to come up in subcommittees Thursday would expand the right to carry weapons to areas outside of schools and workplaces.