(SIOUX CITY, IA) The shootings in Newtown and Aurora are shedding light on gun permits and background checks here in Iowa.
According to state law the application to carry a weapon is a public record. But in Woodbury county half of that application is given back to the applicant and not saved by the county.
The Des Moines Register broke the story this morning - Woodbury County is one of just two counties in the state that doesn't keep the full application on file.
And that means the state couldn't prove later on whether someone lied on their application.
There are Two parts to the application. The first part is where you fill out your name, address, and other personal information. This document is kept on file. The second part of the application is a questionnaire with questions like do you have any felony charges pending or do you have a mental illness?
This is only kept until the application is either approved or denied.
"There's nothing we need here anymore. They've answered these 11 questions. After they answer the 11 questions we run the criminal history. Criminal history will tell us if this is good or not. And if they meet the qualifications there is no reason to keep this on file," says Dave Drew, Woodbury County Sheriff.
In Iowa, applicants have 30 days to appeal a denial. After the permit is approved or denied the sheriff gives the questionnaire back.
If someone later commits a heinous crime like the shooting in Aurora - where James Holmes obtained all his guns legally -that questionnaire would not only prove whether the person lied - but if sheriff's officials properly approved the permit. Sheriff Drew says he's not worried about that.
"We don't feel that's a part of what we need to give back or hold on to. Like I said, we give it back, and it's theirs to do with what they wish," says Drew.
The questionnaire asks if the applicant has ever been committed to a mental institution but that information isn't a part of Iowa's background check and that worries the Sheriff.
"There is nothing that comes back in a database for us, to tell us if somebody has a mental illness. That's my opinion one of the flaws in the system. Because under HIPPA under medical, we have no idea," he says.
Gary Boeshart just got his permit and says the application process was easy. And with all the hype around guns lately Boeshart just wanted to be safe.
"I don't know where our government is going will all the laws and there's a lot of differences of opinion. I have no reason not to have one. I have no record. I do own guns, I've owned pistols, sold pistols. But from here on out everything that I buy will be registered," says Boeshart.
The first half of the application that the sheriff keeps is public record but the sheriff says he blocks out addresses if someone requests a copy. Meanwhile a similar practice for applications takes place in O'Brien County. Sheriff Michael Anderson tells Siouxland News there's no requirement to keep that record once the permit is issued or denied.