One of the changes that occurred in January of 2011 when Iowa's new "Shall Issue" Permit to Carry law took effect was the increase in the term of the permits from one year to five.
While this meant less frequent renewals for Webster County residents, it also meant that the actual physical permits - paper forms about 3-by-8 inches - would probably disintegrate before they expired.
Beginning in February, permit holders will be able to get plastic cards to carry that, hopefully, won't wear out.
-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Webster County Sheriff Jim Stubbs shows one of the old paper Permit to Carry forms and one of the new plastic cards that will be available in February. Holders of existing permits will be able to get the plastic cards during their birthday month. Newly issued permits will be plastic.
Jim Stubbs, Webster County sheriff, said that was one of several reasons for making the switch.
"Longevity was an issue," he said. "The paper ones do not hold up."
The new permits are also more convenient, both for permit holders who will find them easier to carry, and the sheriff's staff.
"Our staff worked with the software company to make sure this ties in with our office software," Stubbs said. "It's not a standalone; you only have to enter the data once."
They also make it easier for law enforcement officers in the field and for firearms retailers who can accept the permit cards for the purchase of handguns. The cards bear a photo of the permit holder.
"It's like a picture ID," Stubbs said.
Once an applicant has taken the required training for a permit and passed the background check, getting the physical specimen only takes a few minutes. A clerk enters the data in the computer, takes a digital photo and then prints the result.
For permit holders who have the current paper versions, they will be able to get a plastic permit during their birthday month. The sheriff's office will take applications from 9 to 11 a.m. and from 2 to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday. The fee is $35, payable in cash or check. A photo ID is required. If paying cash, exact change is necessary because the sheriff's office does not make change.
Stubbs said that under Iowa's law he has to charge the permit holder a $35 fee since they are, in effect, getting a duplicate permit; $10 of the fee helps recover the cost of the equipment, supplies and labor.
"It's not a money-maker for us," he said.
For new permits, the $10 fee is added to the $50 fee for the permit, for a total of $60.
Stubbs said the new permit cards follow a standard format approved by the state. They are valid throughout all of Iowa.
The plastic cards are not available for Permits to Purchase. Those will remain paper.