• Des Moines County Sheriff Shoots Hand While Cleaning Loaded Gun

    December 19, 2015
    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.