• 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. 

  • 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.

    Similar

    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. 

  • Key Legislator Wants To Know Your Top Priorities

    December 10, 2014

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    CLICK HERE to tell Senator Sodders’ that 2nd Amendment issues are a top priority!

    Iowa Senator Steve Sodders is asking for input on what your priorities are for the upcoming legislative session. It’s common for legislators to produce a survey such as this, but this survey is particularly important for Iowa’s firearms community. That’s because Senator Sodders will soon be the chair of the Senate’s Judiciary Committee, this position is a key bottleneck for almost every piece of firearms legislation. As chair of the Judiciary Committee Sodders can determine which bills do and do not get scheduled for votes. We’ve seen this used against us time and time again by the previous chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee Rob Hogg.

    Please take a minute or two to fill out Senator Sodders’ survey and tell him to protect and enhance our 2nd Amendment rights here in Iowa.

    Please be honest with your survey answers, but please also remember to act like adults and keep your responses respectful. We look forward to working with Senator Sodders in the upcoming session. If you’re not sure how to answer some of the questions you can skip all of them except the first.

    To make this easier for the Iowa Firearms Coalition has drafted up answers to the first and last survey question. Please feel free to use them if you’d like.

    CLICK HERE to tell Senator Sodders’ that 2nd Amendment issues are a top priority!

     

    Question:

    What issue is most important to you in 2015?

    Answer: Other

     Protecting and enhancing the 2nd Amendment rights of Iowans.

    Question:

    What else do you think I should focus on in 2015?

    Answer:

    Protecting and enhancing our 2nd Amendment rights. For instance: amending the Iowa Constitution to include a Right to Keep and Bear Arms (RKBA) statement; protecting firearms owners personal information from maliciously being published in the media; legalizing suppressors and other NFA items; maintaining the current Shall Issue rules and requirements for concealed carry; passing a castle doctrine/stand your ground law.

    I also expect you to acknowledge that my 2nd Amendment rights shall not be infringed upon — more specifically, any attempt at gun control, onerous requirements, restrictions, or alterations to Iowa’s legal code intended to make the usage of firearms any more difficult ought to be opposed. Each of these is an infringement on my rights and a violation of the constitution.


    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.