FILE - Gun store, gun shop, firearm sales, gun control

(The Center Square) – In July, the first month following the enactment of Iowa's “constitutional carry" law, successful overall permit to carry applications have dropped to a little less than half of those seen last July.

Iowa Department of Public Safety Strategic Communications Bureau Chief Debbie McClung told The Center Square via email that statewide, 3,946 nonprofessional permits to carry weapons were issued in July, compared with 8,316 in July 2020.

The number of permits issued in July 2020 was nearly triple the number of permits issued in July 2019 (2,576), which had been a slight decrease from July 2018 (3,081).

Program Services Bureau Chief Rusty Ringler told The Center Square in an emailed statement that several factors could have been responsible for “the dramatic increase” the department saw between the month of July 2019 and the month of July 2020.

“We can only speculate as to the definite reasons for the sizable jump, but it appears the increase coincides with similar increases in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) checks and firearms sales that took place nationally during 2020,” Ringler said. “We anticipated some increase related to the election cycle, but other unanticipated issues like the COVID pandemic and violent protests may have contributed as well.”

The law made it possible for qualified residents to purchase handguns from federally licensed firearms dealers by undergoing the National Instant Criminal Background Check System background check for each purchase.

NICS Firearm Checks in Iowa rose from 16,152 in June to 20,275 in July, according to FBI reports. However, July’s count was lower than the background checks run in January (34,313), February (30,572), March (32,870), and April (24,056). More background checks were run in July 2021 background checks compared with July 2020 (19,035) and July 2019 (11,507).

Wendl’s Weapons owner Mike Wendl told The Center Square Aug. 2 that gun sales at the store in Carroll have “stayed steady,” rather than increasing or decreasing in July, compared with the past few months. Wendl said they “always recommend” customers without a permit to own or carry a weapon to get the permit since different states have different gun laws.

Various leaders and organizations, including Giffords, have raised concerns about the new legislation. Several Iowa counties – Madison, Cedar, Jasper and Hardin – became “second amendment sanctuary” jurisdictions in July.

RAND Corp.’s Gun Policy in America initiative reported four hospitalizations due to firearms use in Iowa per 100,000 between 2000 and 2016, representing a tie for the 45th highest (3rd lowest) level among the 50 states. Louisiana ranks first, with 24 hospitalizations per 100,000 people.