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Daily News Editorial

By Staff | Mar 18, 2008

The jury has returned, and even we are surprised at the verdict.

No less than 77 percent of our readers who responded to an on-line survey favor passage of House File 2613, formerly 2092, which would require county sheriffs to issue a concealed weapon permit to applicants unless they had a good reason not to. The biggest change in the legislation would be a change from the word “may” to “shall” in having sheriffs issue concealed weapon permits.

That legislation is in direct opposition to the current way in which business is done in Emmet County. For the past 20 years, the entire time he has been in office, Sheriff Larry Lamack has had a moratorium on new concealed weapon permits. Sheriff Lamack says that county sheriffs have a better idea as to the character of those applying for a concealed weapon permit than someone at the state level.

Current Chief Deputy and candidate for sheriff Mike Martens of the same opinion as Sheriff Lamack. He believes that it’s important that sheriffs have local control in issuing concealed weapon permits. He also said he would willingly follow any change in legislation that might come with the new law.

The other candidates for sheriff, Estherville Police Department Captain Brent Shatto and Estherville Ambulance Service Director Gene Haukoos, favor House File 2613.

In addition to the change from the word “may” to “shall”, House File 2613 has some very stringent requirements for those applying for a concealed weapon permit. Among those requirements are:

n Permits would not exceed 12 months.

n The person would have never been convicted of a felony.

n The applicant could not be addicted to alcohol or any controlled substance.

n The person could have no history of repeated acts of violence.

n The issuing officer would reasonably determine that the applicant did not constitute a danger to any person.

n The applicant would complete a course of instruction of six to seven hours plus a live fire shooting test.

n The bill’s provisions would be implemented uniformly throughout the state.

n The sheriff issuing the permit would not be liable for civil damages arising from wrongful issuance, renewal, or failure to revoke a permit.

We believe House File 2613 should be approved because it still gives the county sheriff discretion to determine whether the applicant constitutes a danger to any person. The sheriff still could restrict or deny an application for a concealed weapon. However, as chief sponsor Clel Baudler points out, the only difference would be that the sheriff “shall provide a written statement of the reasons for the restriction or denial”.

As to the question of liability, the bill’s provisions exonerates the issuing agent from liability as long as the permit is issued in good faith.

While officers might decry the uncertainty that might result when making a traffic stop if sheriffs “shall” be required to issue permits, the current hodge podge in which county policies range from “shall issue” to “will not issue” makes the situation even more uncertain. A person from Dickinson, Clay, or Palo Alto counties, all of which readily issue concealed weapon permits, could legally enter Emmet County with a concealed weapon. However, an Emmet County resident could not do the same — or for that matter, carry a concealed weapon in Emmet County. Rather than relax the standards for carrying a concealed weapon, the bill would implement more stringent rules for issuing a permit and apply them consistently statewide.

We believe House File 2613 still gives county sheriffs the power to deny concealed weapon permits to those who should not get them.

We believe it should be passed.