• The Minnesota Reciprocity Problem – Why Language Matters

    August 17, 2015
    Minnesotans' new law makes great strides in reciprocity with neighboring states, but comes at a high price for anyone who lives out of state. It's a also a great example of how important specific words can be.

    Minnesotans’ new law makes great strides in reciprocity with neighboring states, but comes at a high price for anyone living out-of-state.

    By now you may have heard Minnesota no longer recognizes Utah’s concealed carry weapon permits, as well as three other states (Missouri, Texas, and Wyoming). What you may not have heard is this change in Minnesota law means Minnesotan’s now have reciprocity with nine new states, most notably North and South Dakota, their neighbors to the west. Prior to this Minnesota refused to recognize out-of-state concealed carry permits from any of their bordering states. This is a significant improvement for Minnesota residents, particularly those that live and work along the western border with North and South Dakota.

    BUT, the loss of reciprocity with the state of Utah has a direct impact on Iowans because tens of thousands of us have Utah permits to carry, which up until very recently meant we could legally carry in Minnesota. Now these Iowans will have to find other means to carry in order to remain lawful.


    Concealed carry reciprocity letter from the Minnesota DPS commissioner.

    This letter from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety explains why they dropped their reciprocity agreements with four states including Utah.

    It took pro-Second Amendment advocates in Minnesota years of hard work to secure reciprocity with their neighbors to their west. But unfortunately they ended their agreement with Utah and three other states all because of the interpretation of one word: similar.

    Lawmakers in Minnesota approved the update to their state’s carry law, but ultimately it’s up to Minnesota’s Department of Public Safety (DPS) to determine what other state’s carry laws apply. The mandate says in order to recognize an out-of-state carry permit, the state of origin must have a permitting system that is “similar.” So when the Minnesota DPS reviewed the updated carry law they determined that Utah’s permits are not similar because there’s no proficiency test in Utah. Which coincidentally is part of the reason they refuse to recognize Iowa’s Permit to Carry.

    There’s two important points to take away from this story. First, if we had national reciprocity this would never have been an issue. But more importantly…

    Words Matter.

    Had the Minnesota law been written another way, or updated so that the DPS had to maintain its current reciprocity agreements this story would be much different. But as it stands the interpretation of the words “substantially similar” falls to the DPS and at the end of the day this gives them a tremendous amount of power.

    Specific words truly do matter especially when it comes to changing laws. Every single word in a bill must be perfect. When the wrong word, or a weak or ambiguous word makes its way into a bill that gets signed into law the results can be utterly disastrous.

    May Issue vs. Shall Issue

    A perfect example of this took place right here in Iowa’s firearms community. Anybody remember the days of “May Issue” permits to carry? Before 2010 each county sheriff in Iowa got to choose who got a permit to carry concealed weapons and it was an absolute disaster. Residents of some counties had no problems getting permits, while others who were just as qualified had virtually no chance of ever getting a permit. All because of one single word in Iowa’s legal code–”may.” A county sheriff may issue a permit to carry to qualified individuals.

    It took seven years, thousands Iowans, and tens of thousands of emails, phone calls and volunteer hours to change that one word–may–to shall. It may not seem like much, but legally speaking the word may is vastly different from Shall. Changing that one single word single-handedly lead to a ten-fold increase in the number of Iowan’s with permits to carry.

    There’s plenty more examples to go around. We all know how the anti-gun zealots love to argue our Second Amendment rights need be reigned in ‘because they only apply to a “well regulated militia”‘ aka the National Guard or various military units. Not to private citizens. Fortunately they’re FLAT OUT WRONG. In the 2008 Heller case the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to possess and carry firearms. In plain English the court ruling effectively said the word militia means all lawful citizens, not just organized units of the US military. Once again specific words and their interpretation can make or break a law, amendment, bill, etc..

    The devil’s in the details

    That idiom rings especially true with gun laws. You may have a bill that looks great on the surface, but one misplaced word, one tiny slip up, or a single malicious entry by an anti-gun legislator can destroy months or years of hard work. The devil is truly hidden in the details, and anti-gunners without a leg to stand on will do often try to sour good legislation with bad language. This is something the Iowa Firearms Coalition is well aware of and constantly on the lookout for. Unfortunately for Iowans’s who work or travel in Minnesota, this latest change to their carry law is another example of how extremely important a pro-Second Amendment bill’s language is.

    The moral of the story: the next time you see a so-called “pro-gun bill” written or amended by anti-gun legislators think long and hard about their motivation and every single word they wrote.

    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. 

  • Reciprocity Alert – Minnesota No Longer Honoring Utah CCW Permits

    August 13, 2015
    Iowan's don't be caught of guard if you're traveling in Minnesota - MN no longer honors Utah CCW Permits

    Attention Iowans and anyone who is in Minnesota regularly – if you have a Utah CCW Permit and use that to carry in Minnesota you’re now going to have to reevaluate how you carry in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.


    If you have a Utah CCW Permit then you need to be aware that in response to a recent change in Minnesota Laws, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety has removed four states from the list of Permits that they honor.

    A Utah CCW Permit is no longer valid in Minnesota.

    Missouri, Texas, Wyoming and Utah are the four states that are no longer recognized by our neighboringmap Northern State.

    The reason stated for Utah being removed is due to lack of a shooting requirement for permit training. This is also one of the reasons why they will not recognize an Iowa Permit.

    I was told by someone who spoke to a Minnesota Elected Official, that several people are not happy with the Minnesota Department of Public Safety’s action on this. It is always possible that there could be some backlash, and this decision could be reversed. Please do not rely on rumors, and be sure to check and verify any information.

    If you want to do something to help fix this situation contacting the Minnesota Department of Public Safety would be a good start. Politely let them know you’d like to see Minnesota’s reciprocity agreements with Missouri, Texas, Wyoming and Utah restored.  While you’re at it, ask them to honor Iowa’s Permit to Carry certification as well.

    It is possible to get an out-of-state Minnesota Permit. The cost is $100 for five years and you must apply to a Minnesota Sheriff in person. I am still researching the training requirements, but from what I understand, the instruction does not have to be taken in Minnesota, but it is required to have a shooting component.

    Hopefully this is a good reminder to be sure to check and double-check the reciprocity of your permit before you travel. Understanding and knowing the laws of the states you plan to visit is also very important, as they can vary quite a bit from state to state. An Iowa Permit to Carry Weapons is currently honored in 32 states.

    The links below are a good websites to check and compare for more information.





    Go Safe

    Steve Hensyel


    Steve Hensyel is a guest writer for the Iowa Firearms Coalition. Hensyel is the owner of Hawkeye Firearms Instruction and an IFC past president.

    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. 

  • Omnibus Firearms Bill Addressing Suppressors & Many Gun Issues to be Filed Soon

    March 1, 2015
    Windschitl wants to legalize suppressors and fix many other Second Amendment issues in Iowa.

    Rep. Matt Windschitl’s latest newsletter describing his suppressor/firearms omnibus bill for Iowa.

    The time for action is very near

    As you may know, we’ve hinted for a while now that a big firearms bill is in the works. We’re still putting the final touches on it, but the time has come to start spreading the word.

    We plan to legalize suppressors and fix many issues that have plagued Iowa’s firearms owners for years.

    Representative Matt Windchitl, a stalwart supporter of Iowa’s firearms community, will soon introduce a wide-ranging omnibus firearms bill. Windschitl made the announcement in his latest legislative newsletter. Building off last year’s landslide of support for legalizing suppressors, the bill addresses suppressors and many other issues the Iowa Firearms Coalition has raised over the last several years.

    According to Windschitl the bill:

    -Legalizes suppressors and creates a process for a chief law enforcement officer to sign off on the paper work a citizen needs to purchase a suppressor. This is a federal requirement and just one step in the process to obtain a suppressor.

    -Corrects the renewal process and extends the time a person can go without retraining from 5 years to 10 years. So a permit will last for 5 years, but you can renew it without retraining on your first renewal.

    -Creates a simplified method of obtaining retraining after this 10 year window by allowing the retraining to be a simple online course approved by the NRA or Department of Public Safety. It also allows for a person to shoot on a range for their qualification if they so choose or to take a full course like they did for their first permit.

    -Specifically exempts veterans with small arms training from ever having to go through initial training or retraining if they can produce their military qualifications at the time of application.

    -Lengthens the window in which you can renew your permit from the current 30 days prior to expiration requirement, to now allowing you to renew 30 days before or after the expiration date on the permit.

    -Clarifies that when an applicant takes online training that it is done with either a live instructor teaching a course, or that an instructor has taught a prerecorded course. In either case the applicants participation must be verified by an instructor.

    -Eliminates the annual permit to acquire and makes this an optional permit to acquire firearms that will now be good for 5 years instead of 1 year.

    -Establishes permit privacy so the information you submit to obtain your permit will no longer be subject to public information requests. Your personally identifiable information will only be able to be released to law enforcement when necessary in the course of their duties. This protects not only permit holders, but also none permit holders as it will prevent someone with criminal intentions from being able to readily identify who may or may not have a weapon.

    -Eliminates the absurd law that bans parents from being able to teach their children under fourteen how to shoot a pistol or revolver. Under current law if a parent wants to teach their child to shoot a rifle or shotgun they can, but they cannot teach a child under fourteen how to use a pistol or revolver. This change will put the responsibility to make the decision of when a child should be taught firearm safety back where it belongs, in the parents hands.

    -Establishes a statewide verification system law enforcement can use to check the validity of a permit. This is good for both law enforcement and those Iowans who exercise their right to carry a weapon. Currently if you were to forget your permit and be stopped by law enforcement they would have to seize your weapon and potentially charge you for carrying without a permit. With the system they will be able to verify if you have a valid permit and not take your weapon away. Having this system may also help us to gain reciprocity with other states like Minnesota. Do not be alarmed though, this is not a gun registry or database of firearm owners. The system will only contain information that verifies if a permit is valid or not. It will not include information on specific weapons or people who simply own weapons but do not have a permit.

    -Will create uniform permits throughout the state that will only have necessary information listed on the permit card. This will apply to both a permit to carry and the now optional permit to acquire. We specifically strike the requirement to have a person’s residence listed on the permit card as there is no need for this information on a permit. Uniformity in permits will not only be a benefit to law enforcement but also the public and firearm stores.

    -Outlaws the practice commonly referred to by law enforcement as a “straw purchase”, where someone who is prohibited from having a firearm obtains one by having another person purchase a firearm for them.  Federal law already has similar prohibitions, but state law is not as clear as it needs to be on the topic.

    The Clock Is Ticking

    During Iowa’s legislative process a bill must meet certain deadlines. The first of these deadlines is Friday March 6th (sometimes called the first funnel). This is when all bills must be passed out of the committees they’ve been assigned. We’ve created a page explaining How a Bill Becomes a Law in Iowa.

    As soon as this bill is introduced the Iowa Firearms Coalition will be spreading the message. We have just a few short days to get this bill passed out of committee before the first funnel. It’s a big task, but we’ve been preparing for this for months, and thanks to the groundwork our lobbyists have been laying we’re confident we can get past this first hurdle IF we can show strong grassroots support from across the state.

    Sign up for our email list for the latest information. We’ll also be spreading the message on our Facebook & Twitter pages. Follow us and join the conversation.

    More updates to come!

    Iowa Firearms Coalition is an entirely volunteer, grassroots, 2nd Amendment advocacy group. Responsible for bringing uniformity to Iowa’s Concealed Weapons Permitting process, IFC’s members work to protect and enhance 2nd 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 2nd Amendment issues in Iowa. You can support our work by becoming a member, or making a donation.