cover story

April 21, 2011 |

Who’s Packing?


Nearly 5,200 Polk County residents applied for new permits to carry through March 31


By Jared Curtis


When the new permit to carry law took effect on Jan. 1, few people expected the explosion of applications that came through the doors at the county sheriff department. The change in the law shifted the power, making it more difficult for county sheriffs to deny someone a permit to carry. The sheriff was previously able to use his or her judgment as a factor, but now, as long as applicants meet the minimum state requirements (can't be a felon, have a domestic violence conviction, a conviction for assault in the last three years or been committed with mental impairments), they can receive a permit to carry.

The number of applications is staggering. As of March 31, the Polk County Sheriff's Department received 5,195 applications for a permit to carry. In January, the department received 1,860 applications. In February, officials saw a small decline with 1,460. But, in March, the department received 1,875, a record number of applications. Compare that to an average of 350 in 2010, and it's easy to see that more people are packing heat.

" It has been overwhelming at times," said Sgt. Jana Rooker with the Polk County Sheriff's Department. "We anticipated an increase in the volume of applications, but not to this extent."

With the overwhelming response also comes an overwhelming workload. As the applications keep rolling in, the process takes time and Sgt. Rooker would like people to be patient in the process.

" The public needs to know to expect their letter or permit in the approximately 30 days after they submit their application," she said.

Citizens can apply for a permit in person at the Patrol Headquarters, 6023 N.E. 14th St., from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. A new permit to carry requires a fee of $55 (cash only) and a valid driver's license or non-operator I.D. that contains your photograph and current address issued by the Iowa Department of Transportation. The permits are valid for five years from the date of issue. For more information, visit www.polkcountyiowa.gov/sheriff or call 286-3814.