The Iowa Senate passed a bill Thursday that allows county attorneys and assistant county attorneys to obtain a professional permit to carry weapons. Democrat Sen. Joe Bolkcom was the only senator to vote against the legislation.
“Across Iowa’s 99 counties, every day our county attorneys and assistant county attorneys put in prison some of Iowa’s most violent offenders,” said Sen. Zach Nunn, the bill’s floor manager. “Repeat violent offenders who have been charged with things such as felony, battery and homicide. Those county attorneys go out in the streets with law enforcement, to crime scenes to investigate some of the most heinous acts that have been committed in our state, and once they’ve locked up our most violent offenders, they often times are faced with that individual’s family, accomplices or other violent offenders who have a personal beef with that individual for putting that evildoer in prison.”
Nunn added that county attorneys do heroic work in tandem with law enforcement and first responders, but they are not afforded the same protections given to a bank carrier in the state.
Bret Lucas, an assistant county attorney in Polk County, brought an incident to Nunn’s attention. A man was charged with threatening to kill in court the assistant Polk County attorney.
“This is just one example of what our county attorneys across all 99 counties are faced with,” Nunn said.
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The opportunity to earn a professional permit to carry weapons allows county attorneys to have the same level of training as a law enforcement officer and carry a professional permit and a weapon with them when they are “out on a homicide investigation, going to and from the courthouse, interviewing a witness or being in an environment where they have just put away one of Iowa’s most violent offenders and now are faced with his accomplices on the walk to their car or at their home after hours with no one but themselves to be able to defend.”
“This moves us in the right direction with other states, but most importantly it puts the guardians of the court in a position to be able to protect themselves and protect those who are with them,” Nunn said.
Ultimately, it is a reflection of what one person can do to change the law to protect their profession, Nunn said.
“This is a smart policy for Iowa and certainly affords our county attorneys and assistant county attorneys the best protection possible under the law.”