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Letter to the editor

By Staff | Mar 26, 2008

To the EDN:

I am with great interest following the series of opinion pieces concerning the newly proposed “shall issue” bill and the issues surrounding such in Emmet County. Many questions quickly came to mind when I read the most recent submission titled “Right to carry bill” by Sheriff Larry Lamack

In the last paragraph of his opinion Sheriff Lamack states “As Emmet County Sheriff, I believe it is my obligation to protect my officers and the citizens of Emmet County by not issuing concealed weapon permits and not allowing people to carry a loaded gun in public. For the past 20 years the voters of Emmet County have “overwhelmingly” supported me and my decisions concerning concealed weapons in Emmet County.”

According to the records at the Iowa Department of Public Safety as of 2007, there are 45 concealed weapons permits issued in Emmet County. These permits show that they were issued for the reasons such as carrying large sums of money and personal protection. These are open records and must be provided by the sheriffss offices to anyone requesting them.

I believe from the sheriff’s comments on not issuing permits that these 45 permits must be renewals issued before hesheriff doesn’t believe in allowing anyone to carry a gun in public then why does he continue to renew these permits? If it is not political and he is so strongly against persons carrying concealed weapons then why not deny, cancel, revoke or just refuse to renew those existing permits?

A permit is not needed for the reasons he himself stated. These are non-professional permits so they are not law enforcement officers. Many are issued for carrying large sums of money and personal protection so that is what they are valid for. I thought the sheriff saw no need for those reasons? Are we to believe that the people holding these existing permits are more responsible, law abiding or that their lives are more important than any other citizen? The number 45 is close to the amount of responses on the survey that the sheriff touted. If small numbers of persons are such an insignificant amount then why are 45 existing permit holders important? I suppose there could be a few answers to these questions but with the sheriff’s most recent comments and his previous ones I cannot think of any valid ones.

In my opinion this demonstrates exactly why Iowans need to remove some of the political nature of the office of sheriff by enacting a nondiscriminatory “shall issue” concealed-weapon permit system. Problems with the current Iowa system are self-evident by the range of sheriffs’ policies. The power conferred on sheriffs under Iowa’s discretionary licensing systems is so broad that there is nothing to prevent them from acting arbitrarily.

Steve Hensyel

Oskaloosa, Iowa

Letter to the Editor

By Staff | Mar 26, 2008

To the EDN:

In an attempt to further clear some confusion regarding HF 2613, especially on the part of Emmet County Sheriff Larry Lamack and Chief Deputy Mike Martens, we submit the following:

1. We appreciate Sheriff Lamack and Deputy Martens agreeing with the Second Amendment, but we would remind Deputy Martens, who stated that he “strongly believed in the people’s right to keep and bear arms,” that the Amendment continues to state that that right shall not be infringed upon. Currently that infringement is based upon Sheriff Lamack’s knowledge of people who “should not have a concealed weapon permit for one reason or another (alcohol, drugs, personality disorders, etc.).” Sheriff Lamack renews approximately 45 permits a year, which contradicts his statement, “for the last 20 years I have not issued a concealed weapon permit.” A renewal is issuing a permit. Are we to assume that the 45 renewal applicants have passed Sheriff Lamack’s “attitude test,” that they have no alcohol, drug or personality disorders? When was the last time Sheriff Lamack interviewed all of them? Could not these 45 pass a background check and still have problems? Are we to assume that we have Sheriff Lamack’s guarantee that they don’t “drink excessively, do drugs, but have never been caught”?

2. In his Letter to the Editor, the Sheriff states, “I don’t understand why some people think they need to carry a loaded gun in public.” We would remind the sheriff that, according to the U.S. Bureau of Justice statistics, 77 percent of all violent crimes occur in public places. While the Sheriff states he always felt safe in Emmet County, not all Emmet County residents stay in Emmet County. Some travel to public places throughout Iowa and neighboring states. Sheriff Lamack doesn’t “see the need to carry a concealed weapon,” and he has that choice. Shouldn’t other Emmet County residents have the same “choice”? Forty-five of them currently do.

3. Deputy Martens stated that he “didn’t think our state or people were ready for that.” According to http://www.IowaCarry.org‘>www.IowaCarry.org, permits are currently issued in over 50 percent of Iowa counties including Palo Alto and Dickinson counties. There are currently approximately 28,000 permit holders in Iowa. We would ask Deputy Martens why he thinks Emmet County residents aren’t “as ready” as Palo Alto and Dickinson county residents, or the other 28,000 Iowa residents.

4. Deputy Martens also states that he “sees a problem if officers answer a call, not knowing whether an individual might have a concealed weapon. That’s inherently dangerous” for both the officer and the individual. As a graduate of Officer Survival School and two Academies in California and Iowa, I (Connie Alvarez) seem to remember being trained to approach ALL incidents as “inherently dangerous” and possibly involving weapons, regardless of whether or not permits are issued. We would also ask Deputy Martens to point to the number of serious incidents involving the current 28,000 Iowa permit holders.

5. Deputy Martens stated that he agrees with the current sheriff’s policy of not issuing new permits, but renewing existing permits. He further states, “There would be no requirement for people with permits to carry to ever show proficiency again once they receive a permit.” HF2613 would standardize training throughout the state of Iowa, including classroom and live-fire training in the presence of qualified firearms safety instructors. Qualifying can also be required upon renewal. When was the last time the current 45 renewals qualified? Were Sheriff Lamack and Deputy Martens present at their qualifying or are their permits simply renewed?

The people of Emmet County are ready for a bill that would standardize training, provide safe carry and afford them the same right of choice currently exercised by Sheriff Lamack, 45 Emmet County residents, residents of Palo Alto and Dickinson counties and 28,000 other Iowa residents.

The people also have a clear choice in this year’s election. If you feel that you have the right to choose, then the next time you see Sheriff Lamack or Deputy Martens, ask, “Why them and not me?”

Connie Alvarez


Larry Walders