Local gun club has safety concerns with handgun training for those under 14

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- Just because we can, doesn't mean we should. That's what leaders at a local gun club said about a provision in Iowa's new firearms law.

Specifically, the section now allowing those under 14 to possess a pistol or revolver while under the direct supervision of an adult. The supervisor has to be 21 or older and must be within ear and eyeshot of the gun user.

The new rule would allow gun clubs to do handgun training for children, but the local Izaak Walton League said they won't.

For years, instructors there have taught gun safety to minors using rifles and shotguns. But, teacher safety is why the group won't be training kids under 14 to use handguns-- even though the state now allows it.

"They are more challenging to be safe with,” said Chapter President Bob Godlove. “They're a pointing device. It's very easy for someone new to, in working with their instructor, turn towards the instructor when asking a question. Everyone that instructs has had that happen with adults, let alone younger people."

Godlove realized the decision may come as surprise, considering the Izaak Walton League is a staunch supporter of Second Amendment rights. He said the position wasn't taken hastily.

Local leadership discussed the pros and cons and figured given the added dangers of handguns and the chapter's proximity to a school and homes, safety was more important than popular opinion.

"It may not be popular,” said Godlove. “But, if we did everything that was popular we'd be unsafe in many ways."

Upon the bill receiving Governor Branstad’s signature, Thursday, gun advocate groups celebrated the new handgun provision for minors, saying it would do exactly what Izaak Walton isn't—train more young kids in the state on the proper pistol and revolver use.

The National Rifle Association said the law will "give Iowa youth the ability to learn handgun safety... in a safe and responsible way."

Most Democrats were against the gun bill overall, but the GOP majority pushed it through the House and Senate largely without bipartisan support.

"This is about individual responsibility and restoring rights to Iowans that have been taken away without cause, by their government under the guise of protectionism," said Rep. Matt Windschitl (R-Missouri Valley), before the gun bill was approved by the House, last week. “This restores individuals’ responsibility to make decisions for themselves.”

Godlove said he too believes the new law does a lot to help gun owners. Though his range won’t offer courses, he didn't discourage people from using the law to train their kids on handguns.

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