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Iowa Women Seek Permits to Carry: "I don't want to be a statistic"

Ben Kieffer
Instructor teaching proper firearm handling at Midwest Shooting Inc. in Hiawatha

The number of permits to carry weapons has risen dramatically in Iowa.

According to numbers collected by the Iowa Department of Public Safety, Iowa has issued more than 375,000 weapons permits since 2011. This doesn’t include professionals who are who required to carry weapons such as a police or corrections officer.

"It is a permit to carry firearms; it is not a permit to shoot people."

On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer visits a women-only gun training class held at Midwest Shooting Inc. in Hiawatha to find out why the 13 women in this particular class – many of whom had never shot a gun – now wanted to carry a weapon in public, and whether they were prepared to use it to kill someone in self-defense. 

“About a year ago I was held up at gunpoint at my job, and I’d like the opportunity to be able to protect myself and my family. I have an 8-month-old son, and I can’t imagine anything happening to him,” one of the class participants said. “Having a gun held up to me, it made me think that they can be scary and they can be used for good too.”

Wade Puffer instructing a women-only permit to carry class on how to handle firearms safely and effectively

Wade Puffer, owner of Midwest Shooting Inc. runs permit to carry training courses, and at the start of each class, he wants to make sure participants consider one question before going any further.

"The first question we want to ask before you put the gun on is, 'Are you willing to kill somebody?' Because that's ultimately what we're talking about," he says. "You're getting training in order to obtain your Iowa permit to carry. It is a permit to carry firearms; it is not a permit to shoot people."

The class covers Iowa's new "stand your ground" law, as well as the logistical aspects of carrying a weapon or firearm, including: use of reasonable and deadly force laws, the consequences (legal and otherwise) of using a firearm in self-defense, where and when you can and cannot carry, and the degree to which Iowa’s permit to carry is recognized by other states. 

Fast facts on Iowa permit to carry:

  • Since January 2011, Iowa is a "shall issue" state for a permit to carry weapons on one's person. Applicants must successfully complete an approved training course.

  • You have to be at least 21-years-old to acquire a permit to carry in Iowa (18-years-old for professional permits).

  • Permit holders can carry a weapon openly, or carry weapons concealed under clothing.

  • An Iowa carry permit allows for the concealed or open carrying of handguns, rifles, and shotguns, excluding those classified by Iowa law as offensive weapons (federal NFA or Class 3). An Iowa carry permit also allows the concealed carrying of other non-firearm dangerous weapons such as knives with blades in excess of five inches, switchblade knives, and Tasers/stun guns.

  • Under Iowa law, the Nonprofessional Permit to Carry Weapons is issued to residents of Iowa by the sheriff of the applicant’s county of residence. 

Ben Kieffer is the host of IPR's River to River