In January, alone, Woodbury County issued 148 gun permits. But, it's not the numbers that worry some folks. It's the way the county has dealt with the permit paperwork that has some "up in arms."
Dave Drew has been Woodbury County's sheriff for about two months now. With a slew of files for active gun permits, the department is running out of space to store all of them.
"We have files full. So, we don't destroy the records. What we hand back to them, we don't feel the need is (there) to keep the 10 or 11 questions," said Drew.
An investigation done by the Des Moines Register newspaper said Woodbury and O'Brien counties are the only two in the state that shred parts of the application. In Woodbury County's case, they give back the questionnaire, but they file the rest of the permit paperwork.
"We don't destroy; we keep the record on file. If we have someone who's a denial, then we keep that. They have 30 days to appeal a denial," said Drew.
Ross Loder, who works with the Iowa Public Records, says the sheriff's office is not necessarily obliged to keep the application, and the related paperwork.
"What we say is the sheriff's office needs to retain sufficient information to allow the sheriff's office to demonstrate why it performed a check," said Loder, bureau chief for program services for the Iowa Department of Public Safety.
But Drew says the whole application isn't destroyed and the information won't go away. That's how it's been for years. He says the whole application is kept on file, except for a brief questionnaire that a person fills out and then gets back. The information from that questionnaire is kept in a separate file, though Drew says the sheet itself doesn't really do any good.
"If they meet the criteria of the following questions, I'm sure you'll show, we run the check and we keep all that information in an investigative file," said Drew.
So, Drew says if someone passes the background check, they can get a card to show they're permitted to carry.
"What we do is come in on a periodic basis, as does the FBI and perform a review or an audit of access and use of the system," said Loder.
Drew says part of the application process is flawed. That's the mental health evaluation. It depends on honest answers on the questionnaire, because the county can't check some medical records because of privacy issues.
"That's my opinion of the flaw in the system. Because, under HIPAA, under medical, we have no idea," said Drew.
And, they're still looking for solutions to make their lives a little easier, and those rooms a little less packed.
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