One of the highlights of my recent trip to the NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits in Louisville, Ky., was an interview with 12-year-old Meredith Gibson and her 10-year-old sister, Natalie.
The Gibsons live in Johnston, Iowa, and are both involved in shooting sports.
The state of Iowa, however, has a problem with these young ladies. While they participate in the shooting sports, they are not yet 14 years of age. Meredith shoots 3-gun and USPSA, and Natalie shoots USPSA. But both of these sports involve competing with pistols, which is prohibited for Iowans under the age of 14. (Incidentally, there is no other state in the union that has a problem with kids their age shooting a pistol under adult supervision. They are legally able to shoot a shotgun or a rifle in Iowa, but not a pistol.)
This forces the Gibson sisters to go to Illinois—yes, that Illinois—to practice their pistol skills.
This law is a relic from the Civil War era. In truth, it is a law that should have been repealed long ago, but no one has done so yet.
When the Gibson sisters asked their dad, Nathan, what they could do about it, he took them to the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines to talk to legislators. Each Wednesday, their school has “early out,” and they go to the state capitol in Des Moines to visit with legislators to seek their support for legislation to repeal the ban. Yes, they go every Wednesday. “We just want to get back to our sport.” — 12-year-old Meredith and 10-year-old sister Natalie Gibson
(You can watch a great interview that Meredith, Natalie and Nathan did with Cam Edwards on NRA News’ “Cam & Company” describing their interaction with legislators here.)
Unfortunately, this repeal bill keeps getting killed in the Senate. Democrat state Sen. Steven Sodders has told the girls that he supports the bill and even said he’d bring it up for a vote, but he never has. Instead, Sodders assigned it to the three-member Judiciary Committee that has two anti-gun senators on it. They never get around to scheduling a hearing, which results in the bill dying without even a vote. It should be noted that the girls have talked to all 50 state senators, and 35 have pledged to vote “yes” on the measure.
When the Gibson girls couldn’t get anywhere with Sodders, they tried to track down Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal. They told me that when Gronstal saw them, he tried to get away via one of two sets of stairs that lead to the building’s main exit. Not to be outmaneuvered, the girls were waiting at the bottom of each set of stairs, essentially blocking him from not talking to them. Who doesn’t love this image of a legislator running away from a couple of kids!
The situation is truly ridiculous and unfair. The girls aren’t looking to carry a concealed firearm. They aren’t even trying to make a political point.
As they told me, “We just want to get back to our sport.” And what I want is for Sen. Sodders to do his job and get the government out of the way of 10- and 12-year-old sisters simply wanting to participate in their chosen sports.
Perhaps the most interesting part of this whole story is what the girls are doing this summer now that school is out. They plan to knock on every door in the district “to make sure Steven Sodders is not re-elected.”
How great it is when children take action to fight for their rights!
How can we help? First, check out IFC-PAC, a PAC that is working on the Gibsons’ issue, as well as promoting other pro-gun measures in the state legislature. Second, if you are in Iowa or can travel to Iowa, consider helping Meredith and Natalie knock on doors. Third, share this story with anyone you know in Iowa, and ask them to share it within their local networks. Finally, feel free to reach out to Senators Sodders and Gronstal. You can telephone Sen. Sodders at (641) 751-4140 and Sen. Gronstal at (712) 328-2808.
Laura Carno is a political media strategist and founder of I Am Created Equal. She also blogs at LauraCarno.com, and was actively involved in the 2013 Colorado recalls.