What’s In Iowa’s ‘Stand-Your-Ground’ Law?

226fd-range_shooterOn April 13th, 2017 Governor Branstad signed HF517 into law. Iowa Firearms Coalition, the chief catalyst for getting it passed, called it “the biggest gun bill in Iowa history.” While supporters say it will revitalize Iowans’ Second Amendment rights and increase safety, opponents said that it would take Iowa back to the “Wild West” and was even “evil” and sanctioned “racism.” Wow!

So, what’s actually in this thing? Let’s take a look. (Bear in mind that this piece is written by a layman for laymen. I’m not an attorney and nothing I say should be considered legal advice. I’m way too underpaid for that.) The law is broken down into fourteen separate divisions, each one dealing with a different topic.

Division One is pretty straight forward, it simply gets rid of Iowa’s state ban on “short-barreled” rifles and shotguns. Keep in mind that you still have to comply with federal law on these. This means paying hundreds of dollars to the federales, registering the weapon with them, getting a tax stamp, and a bunch of other stuff I’m never going to do. I’ll just stick with a 16″ or longer barrel. But Iowans who want short-barreled weapons now have legal avenue to get them.

Division Two is titled “CARRYING WEAPONS AND POSSESSION OF WEAPONS” and is a bit more wide-ranging.  Most important here is that it changes Iowa law to recognize that “going armed with intent” to do bad things cannot be inferred just because someone is carrying a concealed weapon. That’s good news for Iowa’s 200,000+ permit to carry (PTC) holders, since lawfully carrying your firearm alone can no longer be used an excuse to charge someone with that class D felony by some politically motivated prosecutor.

Another provision in Division Two allows duly licensed private investigators  and private security officers to carry weapons on school grounds in the performance of their duties. That won’t affect many people.  This division also makes it a serious misdemeanor to carry or possess a dangerous weapon if you’re legally intoxicated, unless you’re on your own property.

One last provision here allows someone who gets busted for not having their PTC with them to have the charge dismissed if they show the court that they did indeed have a valid permit. Previously, forgetting your permit at home was the same as not having one at all.

Division Three seeks to clean up and clarify the PTC application process and training requirements. One change is that applicants will only have to provide proof of training for their INITIAL permit. It’s no longer required for renewals. That proof of training can come from the usual sources: military or police training from any time, or civvy training within the prior twenty-four months.

One thing that had opponents’ undies in a bunch was that this provision specifically says internet training was acceptable.  Regardless of what the law says, I hope everyone gets as much good hands-on training as they can as soon as they’re able to. Not to appease the naysayers, which is a fool’s errand, but because it just makes good sense.

This provision also spells out that if you don’t apply for your renewal of a PTC within 30 days prior to its expiration or 30 after, your next application will be treated as an initial permit, WITH the training requirements and a $50 fee rather than a $25 renewal fee. Division Three also states that PTC’s will now have a uniform appearance statewide and if a PTC applicant is found to have been wrongfully denied a PTC that applicant can be awarded court costs.

Division Four is another straight forward provision. It merely makes Iowa’s completely unnecessary ” permit to acquire pistols or revolvers” good for 5 years, instead of the current 1 year. It will also make sure they are of a uniform appearance statewide. These archaic things were rendered redundant with the introduction of required instant background checks with gun sales, which is why gun rights supporters initially tried to scrap them outright. Oh well, this is still progress on this front.

For some reason Division Five elicited a lot of pants wetting by liberals and the press (but I repeat myself). This provision merely allows parents to instruct their children on how to safely handle handguns. A previous Iowa law said a child had to be at least 14 to even touch a handgun (but were allowed to fire rifles and shotguns at any age of the parents’ discretion).

HF517 states: “A parent or guardian or spouse who is twenty-one years of age or older, of a person under the age of twenty-one may allow the person ,while under direct supervision, to possess a pistol or revolver or the ammunition therefor for any lawful purpose , or while the person receives instruction in the proper use thereof from an instructor twenty-one years of age or older, with the consent of such parent, guardian or spouse.” The law defines “direct supervision” as: “supervision provided by the parent, guardian, or spouse who is twenty-one years of age or older and who maintains a physical presence near the supervised person conducive to hands-on instruction, and who maintains visual and verbal contact at all times with the supervised person.” Clutch my pearls!

I don’t understand how handguns are fundamentally different from rifles or shotguns. If kids are bound to encounter all types of firearms, why not be able to teach them about all types. When this same provision was proposed last year, opponents declared that it would create a “militia of toddlers” in Iowa. When opponents are reduced to arguing against issues with absurd hyperbole they obviously have no clue and no credibility.

Division Six is also pretty simple. It merely states that personally identifiable information on nonprofessional PTC holders kept by the Commissioner of Public Safety and county sheriffs shall be kept confidential. No more releasing the names and addresses of permit holders to the newspapers to be printed for back-fence gossip or as shopping lists for burglars.

Division Seven strengthens Iowa’s existing preemption law, which had previously been rendered almost meaningless by the state’s anti-gun attorney general. The new provision states that if a city or county makes a rule regulating gun ownership that is otherwise legal in the state, the person adversely affected may sue that city or county for damages.

Division Eight allows for PTC holders to carry concealed at the Iowa state capitol buildings and grounds. This is probably not something that most of us will be doing much of, but is probably more of a symbolic gesture since Iowans should be able to exercise basic freedoms there.

Division Nine prohibits the governor or local officials from seizing legal firearms or curtailing normal gun rights during a state of emergency. If an official violates this provision, it allows the aggrieved person to seek return of property, damages and/or injunctive relief.

Division Ten is probably the laws most controversial provision, what is commonly called “stand-your-ground.” While this got the most press it will probably not affect most gun owners (thank God). If you find yourself impacted by the stand-your-ground provisions of this law, you’re already in a world of hurt.

The “justifiable use of reasonable and deadly force” was already covered by existing law and HF517 alters some of the parameters around it, but not as drastically as you might think. If fact the legal definition of “reasonable force” doesn’t change at all. It’s still: “[T]hat force and no more which a reasonable person, in like circumstances, would judge to be necessary to prevent an injury or loss and can include deadly force if it is reasonable to believe that such force is necessary to avoid injury or risk to one’s life or safety or the life or safety of another, or it is reasonable to believe that such force is necessary to resist a like force or threat.”

Since the definition of “reasonable force” hasn’t changed, it stands to reason that what was “unreasonable” before the new law is still “unreasonable.” So people who think that the HF517 gives gun owners carte blanche to act like they’re in a Quentin Tarantino movie have another thing coming.

The new law does add that “a person may be wrong in the estimation of the danger or the force necessary to repel the danger as long as there is a reasonable basis for the belief of the person and the person acts reasonably in the response to that belief.” [Emphasis added.]

It also adds that a “person who is not engaged in illegal activity has no duty to retreat from any place where the person is lawfully present before using force as specified in this chapter.” That sentence is the meat of “stand-your-ground” that, for some reason, gives some people fits.

The law makes a few other tweaks as well, such as providing some criminal and civil immunity for a person is justified in using reasonable force.

I’m no lawyer, but none of this reads like stuff that will allow you to shoot everyone for no reason and certainly doesn’t declare an “open season on black people” (as I heard one critic warn). In fact, this isn’t some strange alien legal concept; only 15 states DON’T have “stand-your-ground” laws. By imposing a legal duty on crime victims to turn their back to their attackers and try to flee, Iowa was among the minority fringe of states. But no longer; welcome to normalcy Iowa!

Division Eleven makes it a class “D” felony to illegally buy a weapon or ammo, knowingly provide false information on your gun purchase paperwork, or get someone else to do it for you. This shouldn’t affect you unless you’re a crook.

Division Twelve removes the previous requirement that a person on a snowmobile or ATV carry their handgun a special retention holster. You can now use any kind of holster.

Division Thirteen was a rather neat little surprise since I didn’t really hear about it until I read the law for myself.  It states that owners or tenants of private property in unincorporated areas (or folks with their permission) may discharge a firearm for target practice on those private premises. Further, “the use of such private premises for target shooting shall not be found to be in violation of a noise ordinance or declared a public or private nuisance or be otherwise prohibited under state or local law.” Ideally this law shouldn’t be necessary since you should be able to do pretty much whatever you want on your own land, but it’s a nice protection since that’s often not how it goes in modern America.

Division Fourteen sets up the effective dates. The section allowing parents to train their kids on handgun safety (Division Five) and the section keeping personal PTC information confidential (Division Six) go into effect immediately. All the rest go into effect July 1st, which is when new Iowa laws usually take effect. Division Fourteen also states that Division Six confidentiality is for nonprofessional PTC holders.

In total, HF517 can certainly be viewed as a huge win for Iowa’s gun owners. But that doesn’t mean that it has to be a loss for any other Iowan (other than maybe the occasional ruffian). So if you are someone who is morosely fretting about the sky falling from Wild West shootouts, racial genocide and toddler militias out your front door: Take heart! Your fellow Iowans are not the irresponsible, despicable, racist, pieces of human debris that you’ve been led to believe they are. Life will go on, just as it did after the “shall issue” permit law was passed, and individual Iowans are a bit freer. That’s a good thing.



"Cold Hard Cashner on Gun Rights"

Please check out and buy my new book: “Cold Hard Cashner on Gun Rights: Second Amendment Writings From 2008-2013.”


“Cold Hard Cashner” has been called “the premiere small-town Iowa blog about Liberty.” This book collects the blog’s best posts dealing with Second Amendment issues since its inception in 2008 through 2013. In these pages you will read about the history and philosophy behind the Second Amendment, Iowa’s struggle to become a “shall-issue” state, gun training and selection, and the gun politics in the state.

About the author: Benjamin R. Cashner is a lifelong resident of Iowa where he lives with his wife and two children. He served as an infantryman in the Iowa Army National Guard from 1992 to 1998. Cashner is a member of the Iowa Libertarian Party and his columns have appeared in the “Cedar Rapids Gazette” and “Iowa City Press-Citizen.”

Buy the book HERE.

10 Questions with Corey D. Roberts (Part 2)

Continued from Part 1.

Corey D. Roberts is the founder of Tactical Insights L.L.C. in Monticello, Iowa, which provides “Christ-Centered Emergency Response Training” for churches and faith based organizations as well as tactical training for law enforcement and private citizens.

Roberts is currently a full-time patrol police officer with the Monticello P.D. and also serves on the multi-jurisdictional Jones County Emergency Response Team as Tactical Commander. He also serves in the Iowa Army National Guard (having served as an enlisted man, NCO and officer) and has been deployed several times.

Officer Roberts agreed to answer a few questions for me about guns, crime and freedom. The views expressed are those of Roberts and not necessarily those of any organization he may be affiliated with.

6. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., introduced a bill that would ban “assault weapons” and “high capacity” ammunition magazines. Says Feinstein, “Military-style assault weapons have but one purpose, and in my view that’s a military purpose, to hold at the hip, possibly, to spray fire to be able to kill large numbers.” You are intimately familiar with weapons like the AR-15 (which would be affected by the ban). What exactly is an “assault weapon?” Do you agree with Feinstein’s analysis of the purpose and proper employment (such as being designed to be “spray fired” from the hip) of weapons like the AR-15?

            Sen. Feinstein watches too much television.  I will begin by answering the basic question of “What is an Assault Weapon?”  To be perfectly honest, as a firearms expert, I don’t know.  The term “Assault Weapon” is not a gun term, it is a political term that is used to scare people.  The term “AR” does not stand for assault rifle.  It stands for Armalite, which is the company that produced the modern civilian model of the gas operated, magazine fed, semi-automatic sporting rifle.  Armalite developed the AR-15.  Having been in the military for 20 years I can say without question that no one is taught to “hold at the hip and spray,” certainly not with the black rifle that she is comparing to the civilian semi-automatic rifle.  Currently our military is issuing an M4 which is similar in design to the civilian model, but functions differently.  Even our military does not issue “spray and pray” weapons.  The current issued M4 is not fully automatic and instead uses a 3 round burst mode.

This argument has nothing at all to do with banning a specific firearm.  These terms such as “high capacity magazines” and “Military style assault weapons” are being used to divide the gun enthusiasts in this country.  The liberals who wish to confiscate our firearms understand that they cannot simply say that they are going to ban firearms, they have to start slowly.  If they can convince the hunters and collectors in the country that the only “bad guns” are the “assault weapons” it sounds reasonable, and people want to be reasonable.  They are working to convince the guy with the shotgun that he has nothing to fear and that no one “needs” 30 rounds.

As an aside, I mentioned that we have begun to define all of our needs as rights, so why are we surprised when the government begins to infringe on our rights based on need?  I disagree with the premise that our rights are defined by need.  The argument that I have used is that if our rights are based on need, then please explain to me the need for Rosa Parks to sit in the front of the bus.  It was her right, not her need.

Our government has developed a pattern that is easy to follow if we pay attention.

 Step 1. Create a term that everyone can agree is bad.

Step 2. Refuse to define said term but continue to use it and enlist the media to join you in using it.

Step 3.  Wait for a critical incident in which said term can be applied and the “people” cry out for government intervention.

Step 4:  Create your own definition for the term.

For example, our government uses the term “assault weapon” and even uses the term “reasonable” when attempting to convince the American people that no one needs them.  The media then splashes the term “assault weapon” only when describing a weapon used by a crazed gunman and never when used by anyone else.  A great example of this was the Dorner case in California in which one media outlet used the term “assault weapon” when speaking of Dorner, but used the term “personal defense weapon” when talking about the exact same weapon used by law enforcement in the same article.  When confronted about the definition of “assault weapon” the government uses another non-definable term to define it, “military style”.  So, we have the media and the citizens agreeing that “assault weapons” are bad, but when the ban list comes out from Sen. Feinstein, we see that she is actually referring to any weapon with a detachable magazine and any weapon with a pistol grip.  But by now the media frenzy has convinced the people that the government is only after “assault weapons”.

Some other examples of this government pattern is the use of the term “universal background check”.  Again this term has been championed as “reasonable” but has yet to be defined.  “Mental health assessment” has been spoken of as a “reasonable step” to curb gun crime, but has not been defined.  Questions for those who support the Universal background check and Mental health assessments are as follows: Will the government maintain a record of every citizen who had a background check to pass family heirloom rifle to their children?  What parts of the “background” is involved?  Will this background check be compared to any “watch lists”?  (The DOJ stated that combat veterans should be on a watch list.)  Who will receive a “mental health assessment”?  At what age will we begin to “classify” our citizens based on this assessment?  (People are very different at 16, 22, and 35.)  Who will be deciding what is mentally “fit”?  Does marital counseling bring into question whether a person is mentally “fit?  What about “sexual deviancy” (remember homosexuality was a diagnosable mental condition)? What is to be done with those “classified mentally unfit” persons? 

Can you see where these questions are going?  I follow the rule that anytime the government uses the term “reasonable”, I begin to question it right away, governments are anything but reasonable.

When we allow our government to infringe on our rights based on terms that sound scary such as “domestic terrorist,” we all agree that “terrorists are bad and should be killed.”  The problem is that the government’s definition of “terrorist” can be re-defined to mean anyone who the government sees as a threat. 

The 2nd Amendment was specifically put in place to ensure that the people had the power and the government did not.  Those who believe that only the military and police should control the guns, or that only they should have the most recent technology in firearms must also agree that only the government should have control of the media and internet.  Our government is very aware of the power of an armed populace and shows it by arming citizens all around the world to overthrow their own governments, such as Egypt, Lybia, Syria, Afghanistan, etc.  I do not trust a government that wishes to disarm its own population.

Make no mistake, this gun legislation has never been about guns, it’s been about control and many in our government have been waiting for just the right catalyst to push the agenda.  

Limiting “high capacity magazines” is another example of this erosion of rights.  My first question to anyone advocating this is “Please tell about all the firefights that you have been in that led you to the conclusion that people only need 7 rounds?”  Who does this “limit” hurt?  An active shooter by statistics will bring multiple weapons, multiple magazines and lots of extra ammo.  The free citizen who is carrying a firearm is the only one allowed a limited number of rounds.

This free citizen has not planned to be in a fight for his life today, the crazed gunman has a plan.  The citizen is required to respond to a well-planned, prepared for attack with whatever he has on his person.  Will the limit on magazines affect the preparedness of the crazed shooter?  Of course not, it will simply make it harder for the citizen to defend him or herself.

7. Your website includes a statement of faith and says that you “felt a strong call of God to minister to the local church in matters of Emergency Preparation, Response and Training.” It’s obvious that your Christian faith is central to your life. Some Christians, however, wouldn’t touch a gun with a ten foot pole. They would cite Christ’s instruction to “turn the other cheek” or the Sixth Commandment. According to the National Council of Churches ofChrist, U.S.A., “Christian tradition insists that it is idolatry to trust in guns to make us secure, since that usually leads to mutual escalation while distracting us from the One whose love alone gives us security.” How do you square your Christian faith with the potential deadly force of firearms?

We believe that a Christ-Centered Security Team is a group of Christians who desire to apply a Tactical Mindset to serve God and their local church through preparedness and willingness to respond in event of an emergency.  I have a lot of respect for the National Council of Churches of Christ but I tend to disagree with many of their stances on several issues. 

Their stance based on “Christian tradition” is well meaning but does not address the realities of the Bible. Our security for our ministries should be based in faith and managed in action.

While we embrace the biblical teaching that God will provide our needs and we believe the Bible when it says in Matthew 6:25 “Take no thought for your life, what you shall eat, or what you should drink; nor yet for your body, what you should wear,” this faith and confidence does not remove us from participating in our own preservation.  Christ was not telling us to stand around waiting for food to fall into our mouths, or water to just appear.  We do not stand in our bedrooms in the morning and wait for clothes to float out of the sky and land on us.  These require action on our part.

Nehemiah 4:9  “We prayed to our God and posted a guard…” 

Isaiah 62:6- I have set Watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; They shall never hold their peace day or night.

Nehemiah 4:9-…because of them we set a watch against them day and night.

John 15:13  “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

Luke 10:19- Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy.

Luke 22:36-…and he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one.

1 Peter 5:8- Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.

Romans 13:4- For he is God’s minister to you for good.  But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.

In 2012 alone, there were 135 total deadly force incidents in churches and ministries alone and this number is increasing every year.  We have taught Response to Active Shooters both armed and unarmed.  This choice is as personal for a Christian as it is for any other citizen.   

While I may disagree with many things that the National Council of Churches of Christ, U.S.A. believes I firmly stand with Philippians 1:15 “But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.”

8. If talking to someone who was new to guns and was looking to purchase, what weapons would be your top picks for concealed carry and for home defense and any other category you think relevant?

Rule 1: ignore the hype. Every “gun guy” out there will be more than willing to give you advice on the perfect weapon/caliber/cool guy gear out there. I would stick with a reputable manufacturer. Think simple, especially for a defensive weapon. If it requires buttons and switches and voodoo spells to fire…it’s too complicated.

Also don’t buy the hype of “knock down power” and buy a huge caliber. For one, it will be more expensive to shoot and two if it’s not easy to shoot, you won’t shoot. I use the analogy that if someone were to give me a 20,000 dollar set of golf clubs, I would chase that stupid little ball through the trees all day the same I would with a 60 dollar youth set from Wal-Mart.

Proficiency requires practice. A well placed set of rounds from a 9mm or .40 caliber will do the same as a .45…good guy wins, bad guy loses. With the current advancements in AMMO, the old argument of Big Caliber=One shot stop is gone. This isn’t TV, it’s not high noon and people don’t fly across the room when shot…even with a .45. I personally would not go smaller than 9mm but I really prefer the 9mm.  Higher ammo count, less recoil, less weight, awesome power with good ammo.

On the other side of that argument, a .22LR that one is willing to carry is more effective than a hand cannon at home or in the glove box.

I would suggest getting an idea of what you are looking for:
Am I going to carry it every day?
Is it easy to operate?
Can I conceal it?
Is ammo easy to acquire for it?
How much do I want to spend?
Will I enjoy shooting it?- Only practice makes proficient
Will it work under the worst possible conditions?- Murphy’s Law.

I would suggest looking at the Glocks, Smith and Wesson M and P’s or Sig Saur. For small carry guns Khar makes some very nice pistols.  One way is to hit up a local gun club and talk to people. 74% of law enforcement carry Glock and the majority carry one of the other two. The reason is simple…they are proven, no gimmicks, no “latest greatest”, just a solid combat pistol that will operate when needed.

There really isn’t a trick to it, which is why I offer people to shoot different stuff (anything I have) at my classes. Unfortunately there aren’t a lot of people that will allow that. I carry a Glock 22 .40 caliber on duty, a Sig 229 .40 caliber on the SWAT team and a Glock 26 9mm off duty. My wife Jeannine carries a Glock 19 9mm. We have been very happy with them. I also occasionally carry a .357 revolver and have no problem with it other than low round count.

Cost is going to be an issue because of the buying that is going on ahead of Congress making some possible moves. You should look to spend $350-$600 on a good quality handgun. For a convenient carry pistol, I would also suggest looking at the Beretta Nano (it’s a 9mm). I have just started carrying it so I can give other ideas for people who “don’t want a Glock” and I have been very happy with it. It runs about $360.00.

I have nothing personally against the big 1911.  45’s other than the ones manufactured today have a VERY strong emphasis on accuracy, which is why you see the competition shooters using them. The way they get this is by making the guns tolerances VERY tight. This leads to problems with functioning in a defensive “combat” pistol role. I have NEVER had a 1911 shooter make it through one of my classes without having malfunctions. When they get dirty, they begin to have issues. Not a problem on the range…BIG problem for defense. Of course, you also run into issues with concealability with the big 45s.

Choosing a handgun is as close to purse shopping as we can get. It has to work for you. Just because some “expert” says that some brand is the “best” or some caliber is the “must-have” does not make it true.  You need to pick it up and hold it.  If it feels wrong in your hand, you probably should keep looking.  Ideally, you should shoot that make and model before buying it.

For home defense, I prefer the 12 Gauge shotgun with a “pirate grip” and a side saddle with extra rounds.  Very little will discourage an intruder more than the sound of a pump action shotgun.  If that is not enough to discourage them, the first round will certainly help convince them.  Another reason I prefer it is that I can choose the round that I wish to have in it.  I use target load as the first several rounds in order to eliminate over penetration in my own home.  I have double 00 buck and slugs in the side saddle if needed.  The home defense weapon should be part of a total home defense plan that includes physical security, phones in appropriate rooms and practiced drills. 

The reality is that just because a gun is really cool and effective in Call of Duty does not make it a practical choice for self-defense. 

9. You and I are about the same age. In addition to having a lovely family, you’ve amassed significant civilian, military and law enforcement training. You’ve authored a book and numerous articles. You’ve racked up real world experience on the streets at home as well as serving in Kosovo and Afghanistan and even fighting wildfires in Montana. In contrast, aside from two wonderful sons, my only accomplishment has been to collect all five seasons of “Quantum Leap” on DVD. What is your secret for accumulating such a wide breadth of experience before you’re even forty?

 I distinctly remember a conversation with my Dad that night before I left for Army Basic Training at the age of 17.  During this conversation my Dad told me to ignore those who lived by the rule “Don’t volunteer for anything” and to take every opportunity for a new experience.  I have followed that advice in every area of my life.  While there were times that volunteering caused me to do tasks that I did not enjoy, more often it afforded me the chance to do something amazing. 

Colossians 3:23 says “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men…”  I don’t know the trick to being driven.  I do credit my upbringing and the example of my father.  Were I to give a young man advice, I would simply say, “Volunteer for everything.  In every task you have, work to be the best at it.  Learn from those who have gone before.  Accept responsibilities that are given to you and do them to the best of your ability.”

Years ago during Army Officer Candidate School, I was selected as the “Kai-Bo Commander”. For those that do not know what a Kai-Bo is, they are also called Port-a-Johns or any other inappropriate names that one can think of.  I was in charge of the plastic toilets just like the ones at construction sites. To say the least, I was not impressed with my assignment. My job was to ensure that the toilets were reserved, delivered and placed at the various training sites where we would be conducting field operations.  The position I felt I deserved was that of Class Commander, or at least a Platoon Leader, but no, I was Candidate Roberts, “Kai-Bo Commander”. This was obviously not my proudest moment.

I decided that if someone had to do it, then I would be the best Kai-Bo Commander the Army had ever seen. Don’t be fooled, this didn’t make my job any less demeaning, or any more glamorous. What it did do was show my superiors that I was willing to take the task and do it to the best of my abilities.  The happy ending to the story is that after a short time, I was taken off of Kai-Bo duty and given a position that I felt was much more in line with my desires.

When you are given a task, do it to the best of your ability every time. Even if it is not the duty you want, take the small steps.  The Bible has a parable of a rich man who was traveling and left his servants with some money.  To one servant he gave ten, to another five and to the final two.  When he returned, he asked the servants what they had done with the money and the one with ten said, I invested it and made ten more. The rich man gave him control of ten cities.  The servant with five said I invested and made five more. The rich man gave him control of five cities.  The final servant said, I kept the money and did nothing with it. The rich man called him a wicked and slothful servant and took the two away from him and gave it to the one with ten. ~Matthew 25:14-30

The simple point to his story is that when given more, more is expected. Prove that you can handle the little things and you will be given greater and greater responsibility.  When you are put in charge of small tasks, do them as though they are the most important task that can be had. Show your willingness and ability to accept those challenges and you will be given more responsibilities.  Fail in the small tasks, and it will be understood that you will fail at the big tasks.

10. Lastly, who do you think would win in a gunfight, the overzealous Sgt. Eugene Tackleberry from the movie “Police Academy” or survivalist gun nut Burt Gummer from “Tremors?”

 I would have to go with Burt.  While I love Tackleberry’s drive and his affinity for guns, Burt has spent his life preparing.  A fight is always won before the first punch is thrown, before the first shot is fired.  Those who have developed a strong Tactical Mindset have a marked advantage.  I believe that all of us can and should have a Tactical Mindset.  We begin to develop this the day we realize that we are being hunted.  When we can understand the threats around us we can begin to develop the “when this-then what” preparedness that life requires.  Burt was prepared for giant worms in the ground, which tells me, he is prepared for pretty much anything

The First TING’s of Spring

What a beautiful day in Iowa! It was 77 degrees when I got off work. (Thank you global warming!) My wife and kids weren’t home when I got there, so I decided to head down to the local shooting range.

I shoved my homemade steel silhouette target in the trunk, my .45 auto in my belt and headed out. I didn’t want to be gone long and only brought about 30 rounds with me. I didn’t do anything fancy, I just enjoyed the fresh air and the “ting!” of copper-jacketing on steel.

It’s good to be an American, armed and free. Let’s keep it that way.

The "Cop Killer" of Ft. Hood

As I was reading Wednesday’s Cedar Rapids Gazette I came across a letter to the editor calling for more gun control in the wake of the Ft. Hood tragedy. Although I occasionally respond to official editorials or columns, I try not use this forum to criticize letters to the editor from private individuals because I think citizens on ALL sides of a debate should feel empowered and encouraged to express their views in the local paper. That is the First Amendment and America at its best.

The letter that caught my eye, however, was written by John Johnson, the former director of the defunded, debunked and now defunct group Iowans for the Prevention of Gun Violence, and was signed as such. Since he is no mere civilian who wandered onto the ideological battlefield of gun control, but a former field-grade officer in the opposing army, I’ll make an exception in Mr. Johnson’s case.

Mr. Johnson writes that the Ft. Hood shootings took place because “(e)asy access to high-capacity, semi-automatic handguns that can be concealed on the person means that any angry individual with a grudge can commit mass murder wherever people gather — even military bases.”

Really? Wherever people gather? How come I never hear of some nut attempting a mass shooting at a gun show or a shooting range or an NRA convention? The fact is that just about any shooting massacre that you can name (Ft. Hood, Columbine, Virginia Tech, etc…) took place in a so-called “gun free zone.” In a sad bit of irony, even our army posts are now mostly “gun free zones.”

The habit of gun control advocates, like Mr. Johnson, of serving up disarmed victims in designated areas actually encourages sociopaths to go on shooting sprees, knowing that they can rack up a lot of kills before armed authorities can arrive. Since Texas has many civilians who carry firearms, if Major Hassan had tried his rampage anywhere besides a “gun free zone,” an armed Texan may well have “killed him back” (to borrow Ron White’s phrase) before he could do so much damage.

Attempting to put the blame for the Ft. Hood shooting on an inanimate object, rather than the nut (or perhaps jihadist) pulling the trigger, Mr. Johnson continues: “One of the weapons used in the Fort Hood shooting was an FN Five-seveN pistol […]. This gun was originally designed for military use, but is also sold on the U.S. civilian gun market. The manufacturer says this gun fires ammunition capable of piercing body armor. Who wears body armor? Law officers. So the FN Five-seveN pistol is for killing cops.” His comments appear to be part of a larger orchestrated effort, since all the major gun control groups recently sent a letter to President Obama asking him to ban the import of the Belgium-made Five-seveN.

The “armor piercing” version of ammunition for the Five-seveN (and for all handguns, for that matter) that Mr. Johnson refers to is already banned in the United States. Your side won that battle long ago, Mr. Johnson! If the laws that the gun control advocates fight so passionately to enact are so ineffectual once implemented that they are unnoticeable and forgotten even by themselves, why do they push for more of the same?

Perhaps Mr. Johnson gets his information from Josh Sugarmann of the Violence Policy Center, one of the nation’s leading peddlers of anti-gun propaganda. In a recent Huffington Post article, Sugarmann claims that in a quick Internet search he found two vendors selling “banned” ammunition for the Five-seveN. But the SS192 hollow point ammo that the vendors were selling is listed on the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives website as “not AP.” It wasn’t really “banned” either, the manufacturer merely stopped shipping that particular type to the U.S., replacing it with the newer SS196 ammo.

Far from being the death-spewing monster that Johnson and Sugarmann depict, the Five-seveN fires a rather diminutive 5.7 mm round. Bob Owens at Pajamas Media convincingly makes the case that if Major Hasan had armed himself with a man’s weapon, rather than the media-hyped Five-seveN, the ratio of killed to wounded would have been much worse.

“[A] high-velocity bullet that only weighs 40 grains (as does the legal SS197SR bullet Hasan used) is at a distinct disadvantage when compared to other pistol cartridges,” writes Owens. “Slower, heavier bullets such as those found in the .40 S&W and .45 ACP hollow point cartridges favored by American law enforcement dump most if not all of their energy in the human body. The difference between a wound from a 5.7 bullet and a .45 ACP is not dissimilar to the difference between the wound from an ice pick and the wound from a sledgehammer. The ice pick will penetrate far deeper, but the sledgehammer will cause far more traumatic injuries.” (None of this is to imply that the Five-seveN is less-than-lethal, just that it’s not super-lethal.)

Owens also pointed out one more salient fact. The FN Herstal Five-seveN, that much-vaunted “cop killer” of Johnson and Sugarmann’s imaginations, has never actually killed a cop in the United States. “So far there is just one known shooting of a police officer with this weapon, and that occurred at Fort Hood,” states Owens. “Kim Munley, one of two officers who engaged Hasan, was shot in each leg and her wrist, but was wonderfully alive and able to appear on Oprah a week later.”

I guess gun control activists can’t let little things like facts stand in the way of their agendas.

More Guns, Less Sense?

Peter Hansen, a retired chemistry professor from Iowa City, recently had a guest opinion article in the I.C. Press-Citizen. It was titled, “Our love of guns is nutty.” The meat of the piece can be summed up with Mr. Hansen’s statement: “I fail to understand how any intelligent thinking person can believe that more guns, carried by more people, at more locations, will result in a safer and more peaceful society!”

I’m sure that Mr. Hansen is a nice man, but I’ve got some problems with the conclusions in his article. Since it contained several unanswered questions, I thought I’d take a crack at answering them for the good professor.

Hansen starts off the piece by invoking the senseless murder of a good man: Aplington-Parkersburg football coach Ed Thomas. A heart-wrenchingly tragic story always helps to stimulate emotions while clouding reason, a favorite tactic of anti-gun advocates.

Hansen then talks about the Virginia Tech shootings and the small but growing movement to allow concealed carry on college campuses. “Gun advocates maintain that had Virginia Tech’s students and faculty been armed, far fewer than 32 of them would have been killed in the 2007 mass murder,” writes Hansen. “Of course, gun advocates ignore the far greater likelihood of more frequent suicides, accidents and murders that would result from arming our campuses.”

As a self-styled “gun advocate” myself, I couldn’t swear that fewer people would have been killed if some V.T. faculty and students had been armed that day. That would still involve an armed “good guy” being at the exact right place at the exact wrong time. The point is that concealed carry on campus would lessen the likelihood of a shooting taking place at all.

According to “Multiple Victim Public Shootings” (2000) by professors John R. Lott, Jr. and William M. Landes, concealed carry laws (wherein private citizens are permitted to carry firearms) reduced a states likelihood of having a “multiple victim public shooting” (2 or more victims) by 60% and reduced deaths and injuries from MVPS’s by 78%. Their research also showed that the more restrictions that concealed carry states placed on where permit holders could carry their weapons (more “gun free zones,” like schools) the less of a reduction in MVPS’s the state experienced.

According to the study “Crime, Deterrence, and Right-to-Carry Concealed Handguns,” (University of Chicago, 1996) by researchers John R. Lott, Jr. and David B. Mustard, states which implemented concealed carry laws reduced their rate of murder by 8.5%, rape by 5%, aggravated assault by 7% and robbery by 3%. There was no corresponding “greater likelihood of more frequent suicides, accidents and murders” as Hansen fears. We should expect similar results arming campuses, where only a few law-abiding faculty members and older students would qualify (or even want) to carry handguns.

Now allow me to answer some of his specific questions.. Hansen asks: “Why do Americans feel the need to own handguns to protect themselves from a potentially tyrannical government? Germans and Italians — who have experienced tyranny — don’t feel this need.”

Most Germans and Italians (and many Americans) would probably grudgingly submit to tyrannical government (as they have in the past). Does Mr. Hansen consider that a virtue? Many (but not all) American gun owners retain the anti-authoritarian spirit of our founding fathers who rebelled against a tyrant far less maniacal than the ones that the Germans and Italians tolerated and even supported. Apparently some Europeans have this spirit of resistance too, like the Jewish resistance fighters in the Warsaw ghetto. Armed at first only with a few pistols, they held off the Nazis longer than the entire Polish Army had been able to.

“Why do Americans fear that law enforcement officers cannot adequately provide for public safety?” he asks. Our law enforcement officers do good work, but the simple fact of the matter is that they cannot be everywhere when needed. The courts have ruled that police have no legal responsibility to protect any individual, only society in general. Even in the increasingly Orwellian surveillance-state that the British are creating, the cops can’t be everywhere. Violent crime rates against their disarmed populace are now higher than America’s.

“Why do Americans fear that strict handgun laws will inevitably result in hunters being denied their hunting rifles and shotguns? Other nations with very strict gun laws allow hunters to hunt,” writes Hansen.

Because in just about every jurisdiction where it’s tried, gun control begets more gun control. If handgun ownership for such a basic human right as self-preservation is not considered sufficient cause to own guns, then how can the recreational use of firearms be considered justification for very long? Hunting, if allowed at all, quickly becomes the domain of the rich and well-connected. Once firearms ownership becomes a purely recreational pursuit, bureaucrats like Rebecca Peters (head of the U.N.’s gun ban arm) can more easily tell you to “get another hobby,” as she snidely advised English sport shooters.

Hansen also asks, “To those who interpret the Second Amendment as an unqualified right to gun ownership, I ask, why did James Madison write, ‘A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.’ Why didn’t he simply write, ‘The right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed?’ Why the reference to ‘a well regulated militia?’ None of the five freedoms of the First Amendment are prefaced with a qualifying phrase.” This is a valid question.

In his book “The Bill of Rights Primer,” Yale Law School professor Akhil Reed Amar explains: “[I]n 1789, when used without any qualifying adjective, ‘the militia’ referred to all First-Class Citizens capable of bearing arms. The seeming tension between the dependent and the main clauses of the Second Amendment thus evaporates on closer inspection- the ‘militia’ is identical to ‘the people’ in the core (First-Class Citizen) sense described above, encompassing adult male citizens eligible to vote, serve on juries, and hold public office. Indeed, the version of the Second Amendment that initially passed in the House, only to be stylistically shortened in the Senate, explicitly defined the militia as ‘composed of the body of the People.’”

Lastly Mr. Hansen asks: “[W]hen the Bill of Rights was submitted to Congress, what was meant by ‘arms’? Most guns possessed by hunters and farmers of that day were smooth bore muskets. Might those 18th-century congressmen have taken a different position had they observed the firepower of a Smith & Wesson Model 686 .357 Magnum revolver?”

I doubt our founders would have taken a different position. General Washington, for instance, was dismayed when many civilian militiamen (hunters and farmers) showed up with muskets incapable of mounting bayonets. In short, he didn’t want them bringing the “hunting rifles” that Mr. Hansen alludes might be permissible. He wanted these civilians bringing their own military-style “assault weapons” of the day. The founders would want their militia to have the best (read “most lethal”) small arms they could get. Since today’s robbers and redcoats have better guns, the founders would have no problem with the militia upgrading their arms as well.

I hope this all helps Mr. Hansen to understand how some fairly “intelligent thinking people” can support an individual right to keep and bear arms. If it was helpful to him, I hope the next time I need help understanding that darned chemistry stuff he’ll be there for me.

Getting A Carry Permit

The last Sunday in April I took my county’s class to get a permit to carry concealed weapons. I’m new to all this, so I thought maybe others who were thinking about getting an Iowa weapons permit (which according to a recent Cedar Rapids Gazette article, is an increasing number of you) might want to see what it’s all about, from the vantage point of a fellow newbie. You old pros, who have carried for years, will have to bear with me.

Firstly, In Iowa there are two types of civilian permits dealing with handguns: the “permit to acquire pistols and revolvers” and the “permit to carry weapons.” The names are self-explanatory.

The permit to acquire only requires that you fill out a form at your county sheriff’s office, pay a small fee and submit to a criminal background check. This will allow you to purchase handguns, but is not needed for long arms.

To carry a gun in public, you’ll need a permit to carry weapons. Although the law doesn’t say the weapon has to be concealed, it’s generally understood to be a good idea, to avoid “scaring the horses.” A permit to carry also functions as a permit to acquire.

Here’s where things get confusing because Iowa leaves each county sheriff with wide discretion as to how or even if permits to carry are issued to the citizens in each county. Essentially, Iowa has 99 different policies on carry permits. Efforts by gun rights advocates to establish a uniform statewide standard for carry permits have met with surprising resistance in the Iowa legislature.

So getting a carry permit in your county may well be different than it was for me. Some sheriffs refuse to issue them even to legally qualified applicants. Luckily, my sheriff in Jones County does.

I visited the sheriff’s office and filled out the requisite paperwork to allow a background check and paid $25 for the required class. In the short time I was there, there was an older married couple in line ahead of me, also signing up for the class, and one guy came in behind me to sign up. The 30 slots in the class filled up fast.

A few weeks later I arrived at the local shooting range where the class was held. I knew that there would be a written test as well as a live-fire proficiency test with my pistol. Besides that, I didn’t know what to expect.

First Sheriff Mark Denniston addressed the class, which was composed of a fairly diverse mix of young and old, male and female. The sheriff told the applicants what was expected of them if they got their permits. Then he turned the class over to the two professional firearms instructors who the sheriff’s department contracts with to teach the class: Mike and Ernie.

Mike Sieverding is CEO of Sieverding Engineering Enterprises and Chief Firearms Instructor for F.I.E.R.C.E. (Firearms Instruction for Every Responsible Citizen Everywhere). Ernie Traugh is an instructor and the owner of Cedar Valley Outfitters, a gun and shooting supply shop in Marion. Both men are also reserve police officers.

Most of the class dealt with the legal aspects of having the permit. Mike and Ernie did a good job on what could have been a rather dry subject. They also reminded the class what a truly grim situation a defensive shooting would be if, God-forbid, anyone did have to use their weapon. They really drove home the point that things don’t play out as they do in the movies. They also encouraged everyone to continue to practice with their own weapons and take further firearms instruction classes to increase proficiency.

After about 5 or so hours in the classroom and after completing the written test on the subjects addressed by Mike and Ernie, it was time for the range test. I have to admit, I was a little nervous about the shooting test. After pheasant and squirrel hunting growing up and 6 years in the infantry, I have spent much more trigger time with rifles and shotguns than with pistols.

It turned out I was sweating for nothing. I knew that the test was at 10 yards with FBI silhouette targets. I spent the month before the class practicing with my .45 (at the very shooting range where the class was held, coincidentally). Once I knew I could hit the target at 10 yards, I practiced at 15 and 20 yards as well, just for my own satisfaction.

I ended up getting 100% on the shooting test. Still, I would like to take some of Sieverding’s other pistol courses to break myself of some of the bad shooting habits that I have no doubt picked up from pistol plinking with “the guys.”

That was it. I waited a week then called the sheriff’s office. I’ll pay a $10 license fee when I pick it up tomorrow.

If the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms is something you really believe in and being able to protect your family while away from home is truly important to you and if you’re comfortable with the idea, I encourage you to investigate what it takes to get a carry permit in your own county. The folks at the local gun shop or shooting range and IowaCarry.org can point you in the right direction. The rest is up to you.