Des Moines County Sheriff Shoots Hand While Cleaning Loaded Gun

Sheriff Mike Johnstone is recovering from a negligent discharge that resulted in a gunshot wound to his left hand.

Sheriff Mike Johnstone is recovering from a negligent discharge that resulted in a gunshot wound to his left hand.

Negligent Discharge

Des Moines County Sheriff Mike Johnstone is recovering from a gunshot wound he suffered while cleaning a loaded handgun earlier this week. Johnstone was taken to a Burlington hospital with a non-life threatening gunshot wound to his left hand. A news release from the Des Moines County Sheriff indicates that after receiving initial treatment arrangements were made for Johnstone to travel to another facility to see a surgeon who specializes in treating hand injuries.

Permit to Carry Renewal Impact

This injury comes at challenging time for the Des Moines County Sheriff’s Office. All across Iowa thousands of Iowans are renewing their Permits to Carry. A process which each sheriff has to sign off on. This influx in renewals is creating a backlog of work that has many sheriff’s offices struggling to keep up. There’s been no word yet on whether Sheriff Johnstone’s negligent discharge injury will impact renewal times for Des Moines County residents.

Of course there is a heathy dose of irony in all of this. Sheriff Johnstone has criticized the change in Iowa’s carry law from May Issue to Shall Issue. Five years ago, after Iowa Carry (the previous name of the Iowa Firearms Coalition) changed Iowa’s carry law Sheriff Johnstone spoke out several times against the new law. “It’s a recipe for disaster.” Johnstone said while advocating for more gun free zones in Des Moines County. Five years later there’s been no “Wild West shootouts” or parking lot gun battles as opponents of Shall Issue had predicted.

Teaching Moment

Naturally the Iowa Firearms Coalition wishes Sheriff Johnstone a speedy recovery. But Sheriff Johnstone’s failure to follow proper gun safety rules also serves as an important reminder that even though firearms are inanimate objects, if they’re not handled with respect they can bring about serious consequences. Often times we hear gun control advocates claim that only police or the military should have access to firearms because they’ve been properly trained. This case proves that gun safety rules apply to everyone, including trained law enforcement officers. So just for good measure, here’s a quick refresher on the most basic Gun Safety Rules.

Cleaning a gun:
Before cleaning your gun, make absolutely sure that it is unloaded.
The gun’s action should be open during the cleaning process.
Also, be sure that no ammunition is present in the cleaning area.

Handling a gun:

1. ALWAYS keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.

2. ALWAYS keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.

3. ALWAYS keep the gun unloaded until ready to use.

Iowa Firearms Coalition is an entirely volunteer, grassroots, Second Amendment advocacy group. Responsible for bringing uniformity to Iowa’s Concealed Weapons Permitting process, IFC’s members work to protect and enhance Second Amendment rights in Iowa. An affiliate of the National Rifle Association, the IFC actively seeks to foster and promote the shooting sports. Sign up for our email list for the latest on Second Amendment issues in Iowa. You can support our work by becoming a member, or making a donation. 

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  1. Randy Crawford says:

    In Iowa City, the law enforcement geniuses (who also shot Eric Shaw through the heart in 1996, and lied extensively to cover up how it really happened) seem to prefer gunning for two victims per bullet

    The federales also have a hard time keeping track of what their trigger fingers are doing

  2. Robin Smalley says:

    Well, it is true that law enforcement has its share of Barney Fife’s…..

  3. walter plinge says:

    i would bet a dollar to a doughnut this non-thinking individual was drinking just prior to his ‘negligent discharge’. it is not nor ever will be an accidental discharge. come on folks, he wasn’t cleaning anything yet. first have to eject the magazine then clear the weapon, then disassembly. no brushes, cleaning fluid etc involved there. just stupidity at its finest. this is always the fallback story for any ‘professional’ so as not to appear totally without cerebral power in the eyes of the public. duh….accidents happen, especially at 11:30 pm at night. yup, that’s when everyone fools/cleans their firearm, late at night, when you are really fresh as a daisy and clear headed. perhaps i am being harsh however the circumstances warrant more truth seeking than you find in most news media outlets. fortunately other than a damaged ego, nothing more serious occurred.

  4. Diane D says:

    Obviously Sheriff Johnstone should not be carrying a gun.

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