In Iowa, Osceola County Sheriff Douglas Weber was reprimanded by a federal judge for refusing to issue a concealed weapons permit to conservative activist Paul Dorr. The reason? Many Osceola County residents were putt off by Mr. Dorr’s conservative opinions.
It was wrong for Osceola County Sheriff Douglas Weber to deny Paul Dorr of Ocheyedan a permit to carry a concealed weapon three years ago, according to a court ruling issued Wednesday.
U.S. District Judge Mark Bennett also ordered Weber to successfully complete a court-approved course on the U.S. Constitution within five months.
“In denying (Dorr) a concealed weapons permit, Sheriff Weber single-handedly hijacked the First Amendment and nullified its freedoms and protections,” Bennett wrote in the ruling.
Anger over the sheriff’s denial of the gun permit was a factor in inspiring some grass-roots activists to push for changes to Iowa’s weapons law. Starting Jan. 1, a new law requires sheriffs to issue gun permits except under a narrow set of circumstances.
Bennett ruled that Weber’s denial of Dorr’s gun permit in 2007 trampled his free speech rights because the sheriff was retaliating against Dorr for publicly protesting, passing out leaflets and writing letters to newspaper editors on a variety of topics.
“The court finds a tsunami, a maelstrom, an avalanche, of direct uncontroverted evidence in Sheriff Weber’s own testimony to conclude beyond all doubt that he unquestionably violated the First Amendment rights of … Paul Dorr,” Bennett wrote in the decision.
“This is a great reminder that the First Amendment protects the sole individual who may be a gadfly, kook, weirdo, nut job, whacko and spook, with the same force of protection as folks with more majoritarian and popular views,” he added.