Guns in the hands of sex offenders is a scary thought for many parents in the Tri-States.
But changes in the way concealed carry permits are issued in Iowa means the door is open for more sex offenders.
The law was changed in 2011, taking the discretion away from the county sheriff looking at concealed carry applications. That means if someone meets the criteria, they have to be issued a permit.
That includes sex offenders who have only been convicted of a misdemeanor and served less than two years in prison.
Becky Kelly is a mother of two and says her and her husband both have concealed carry permits. She says she has taught her children the importance of gun safety and right from wrong, and doesn't think guns should be in the hands of sex offenders.
"You have to go through background checks and if you've already committed an offense against another person especially a minor I don't think it's right to give them that privilege to have the concealed carry permit," said Kelly.
Kelly says by giving convicted sex offenders the option to carry a gun, you're putting children at risk.
"I mean you're giving them the right to have a weapon against other kids, so they can use it as an intimidation or possibly even hurt them," said Kelly.
Lee County Deputy Sheriff Scott Bonar says the law states that if a person doesn't have any prohibiting factors, they have to issue a permit.
"If you come in and make an application to the sheriff and they do a background check and then if you meet the criteria the sheriff shall issue a permit," said Bonar.
Some factors that prevent people from getting a concealed carry permit include domestic violence cases and mental illness. Brian Willcutt is a gun smith and owner of Backwoods Gun Shop in Keokuk and says he is a big proponent of responsible gun ownership. But he has concerns about letting sex offenders have access to a gun.
"If it doesn't carry any liability on for selling to someone, it sure does morally and ethically weigh on my mind whether I would be selling to the right person or not," said Willcutt.
Bonar say there is only one registered sex offender in Lee County who has a concealed carry permit. In Missouri, conceal carry permits are also handled by the county sheriff's offices.
Marion County Sheriff Jimmy Shinn says although there's no laws against giving a permit to someone with a non-violent misdemeanor, he takes a very hard look at any convictions in the past five years, especially those involving children.
There is no concealed carry law in Illinois right now, but lawmakers are working against a court ordered mandate to get one on the books by next month.
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