I have many fond memories of learning to shoot with my dad and brother when I was a kid. We started off on my little bro’s Red Ryder, and by 7 years old, Dad decided I was ready to move up to the Ruger Mark III Target .22 LR pistol (which we still shoot often). Were we in Iowa, this family activity would have been considered illegal.
The current law in Iowa generally mandates that no child under the age of 18 is allowed to own or have access to any kind of firearm. However, there are some exceptions to this law, depending on whether the gun in question is a long gun (that is, a rifle or shotgun), or a handgun, and how old the youth is.
Here’s how it works. Once a child reaches adult age at 18, they are allowed to operate or own rifles or shotguns on their own. Once they reach 21 years of age, handguns become legally open to them. If a child (any youth under the age of 18) wants to operate a rifle or shotgun before they are of age, they’re only allowed to do so under direct supervision and are receiving training on how to safely operate the long gun. Handgun use is open to teens in a similar, but more restricted fashion. Youths between the ages of 14 and 20 are allowed to operate handguns under training and with adult supervision. [Note: Youths between 18-20 are allowed to operate firearms if they are either, working as security, military, or law enforcement and their job requires it, or are receiving firearms safety training from a qualified instructor.] However, anyone under the age of 14 is not allowed to have access to any pistol, not even with adults around, providing safety training and direct supervision.
In fact, recently, a family of firearms enthusiasts were recently asked to leave their local shooting range due to violating this restriction. According to the news report, Nathan Gibson, a dad from Johnston, IA, was out shooting with his eight year old daughter—a pastime they’ve safely enjoyed since his girl was five years old. She had been happily plinking away with the family Walther P22 (a .22 LR pistol), when the range authorities approached them and told the Gibsons to leave. In the report, Gibson defended teaching his daughters how to safely handle firearms saying, “I’m not a revolutionary guy. I’m not trying to overthrow the government. But I’m trying to teach [my daughters] that guns have a purpose, and why they’re important.”
Is Gibson risking his children’s safety by exposing them to firearms at a young age, or is this an example of a pointless law that attempts to tell Iowa citizens how to parent their children?
Featured image courtesy of contributor DIGIcal via istockphoto.com