April 5, 2018

Those who want to carry a gun in public can get certified for free by attending a new class offered by the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office.

The move follows criticism of the department for how it previously handled the classes.

A state audit concluded in July that one of the department’s deputies and an administrative assistant wrongly collected tens of thousands of dollars from the $50-per-person classes they held with the support of the sheriff’s office for more than five years.

County Attorney John Werden announced last month that he would not pursue criminal charges against the deputy and assistant because “the evidence is insufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime has been committed.”

The county’s first free class is set for April 28. Subsequent classes will be held monthly, Sheriff Ken Pingrey said in a press release.

“I feel it is much more beneficial to receive this type of interactive training versus watching a class on a computer with no chance for student-instructor interaction,” he said.

The actual permit costs $50, or $25 for a renewal. Permits are valid for five years.

Iowa law changed in 2011 to make it easier to obtain a permit to openly carry a weapon in public. Permit seekers must take an online or in-person course that teaches them about the regulations for carrying weapons — including, for instance, that the privilege to carry is suspended if the permit holder is intoxicated.

There is no shooting proficiency training required. People who haven’t even fired a gun can get a permit to carry.

The April 28 class is set for 10 a.m. in the lower level of the county courthouse, 114 E. Sixth St. It is available only to residents of the county.

The new arrangement is similar to what other sheriffs have been doing for years. Crawford County has charged $25 per person for local residents to take a weapons permit class that is led by a deputy there. The proceeds benefit the sheriff’s office.

Full details of the Carroll class — such as who will instruct it, the class’ content and its length — were not immediately available.

Pingrey said recent gun violence in other parts of the United States and calls to restrict what types of weapons are legal for sale will likely result in a surge of permit seekers.

“I want to help the residents of Carroll obtain the finest training available, and I consider this a public service,” he said.

For more information about the class, call the sheriff’s office at (712) 792-4393.