New Database Could Stop Some Illegal Gun Sales in Polk County

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  The Polk County Sheriff's Department is taking action to close a loophole in Iowa gun laws that could allow someone with a revoked firearms permit to still purchase a gun.

In Iowa permits to acquire a pistol or revolver are good for five years.  However if someone's permit is revoked during that period they are not required by law to surrender their permit.  Law enforcement officers can request that it be surrendered, but the onus is on the permit holder to give it up.  "We would send out a certified letter but unfortunately there would have to an instance where you would come across them or make contact with them to get that permit," says LT. Rich Blaylock with the Polk County Sheriff's Department, "Right now there's no way to do that. "

The Sheriff's Department plans to combat that loophole by making it easier for gun sellers, both private sellers and retailers, to check if a permit is valid.  Deputies are working to compile a database of all permits issued in Polk County.  That database will be updated every time a permit is revoked.  A gun seller can check the database online to see if a permit is still valid.  The database will list only the permit number and not any personal information.

The department says it won't stop all illegal gun sales but hopefully it will keep guns out of the hands of those who shouldn't legally be buying them.  "At least it would protect the transactions of lawful gun owners and gun dealers to check those permits and make sure they're making a lawful purchase or sale," says Blaylock.

The database is being made possible thanks to the Polk County Board of Supervisors approving a reorganization of employees within the department.  Board Chair Angela Connolly released a statement saying she's glad local leaders to do something that state and federal leaders aren't doing.

“Every day that I wake up to another news story about gun violence is one day too many,” Connolly said in her statement, “We simply cannot rely on our state and federal governments to put common sense checks in place and I am thankful that our Sheriff is taking steps to do what we can locally to keep guns out of the hands of people whose permits have been revoked.”