Guns and Race in Iowa

Published by the Author on June 17, 2009 at 12:01 am > Pro Gun Rights Articles > Guns and Race in Iowa

As I mentioned about a year ago, many of my friends and family expressed concerns for my safety when they learned that I frequented Chicago-area gun stores and ranges.  They worried that gun owners were racist, and would open fire on me for being an African American.  Such concerns were totally unfounded, and I experienced not a shred of racism from gun store/range owners, employees, or customers.  Instead, I found my fellow Chicago-area gun enthusiasts to be kind, helpful, and fun to be around.  I recently moved to Iowa, and therefore had to find gun stores and ranges near my new home.  The same people who were (incorrectly) concerned for my safety in Chicago area gun stores/ranges renewed their concerns, saying that while I got lucky in Chicago, I was certain to experience racism at Iowa gun stores/ranges. Having been to three gun stores and a range, I can now say that their concerns were once again unfounded:

Iowa Gun Stores

Starting with the Iowa gun stores, I found the owners, employees, and customers to be just as friendly as those in Chicago.  In fact, I would say that the customer service was a bit better.  I again experienced not a shred of racism, whether in the store by myself or with my fiancé (who is Caucasian).  Indeed, things were so uneventful that I can’t really think of anything else to say.

ALSO READ:  Houston, TX Store Clerks Shoots Robber in Self Defense

A Members-Only Iowa Gun Range

I’ve also joined a members-only gun range that is about 10 miles from my new home in Iowa.  The range is down a gravel road, in a secluded part of the countryside.  Since this range is a private club, they could lawfully choose to deny me membership based upon race, and there is nothing that I or anyone else could do about it.  When I arrived at the range to see their facilities and then possibly join, about a dozen people were shooting trap.  Despite the dire predictions of some of my relatives, not one of them opened fire on me.  I went over to the range caretaker, and expressed interest in joining.  He explained the club rules, dues, and range locations, then gave me an application.  I filled out the application, wrote a check for the (quite reasonable) yearly dues, and was given my membership card on the spot.

The next week, my fiancé and I went to th range to fire my new Rock River Arms AR-15.  When we got there, four other people were already using the 200 yard rifle range.  When we arrived, they came over to say hello and introduce themselves.  We discussed guns and gun laws for a few minutes, during which time I learned that one of my fellow club members was from the Chicago area, and had once lived about a block from the apartment where I lived until last month.  Another member lent me his staple gun to hang up my targets, since I had neglected to bring one.  Yet another person offered to let me use his 20x – 60x spotting scope, since I had brought only a 6x scope, and was having difficulty seeing where I had hit my targets.  One of the members helped me persuade my recoil sensitive fiancé that the AR-15 would be much more enjoyable to shoot than 3″ magnum slugs from my shotgun.  My fiancé and I then finished shooting, went home, and had lunch, despite some friends’ concerns that we would promptly be shot by members of the gun club.

ALSO READ:  Armed Phoenix, AZ Homeowner Fatally Shoots Home Invader in Self Defense


As I’ve found time and time again, gun owners are good people, and fears of racism are generally unfounded.  While I’m certain that there are some racist gun owners, just as there are racist doctors, lawyers, bakers, and cops, I have yet to encounter even a single racist gun owner.  Instead, the gun owners I’ve met have been universally kind, helpful, and all around great men and women.

Unarmed Self Defense and Disaster Preparedness e-books:

Tags for this article: ,

  • http://outbacknotes.blogspot Rio Arriba

    I’m glad that your experience so far has been a positive and pleasant one. Have to say, though, I am not surprised. I would have been surprised if it had been different.

  • Lynda

    Thanks for the "Guns and Race in Iowa" post. This was what "integration" was supposed to be all about–people of different races and ethnic backgrounds interacting and discovering that we are, indeed, pretty much alike in our needs and wants and that friendships can cross every "boundary" and "obstacle" our minds place in front of us. Education on race in America has been mostly about what was done by one race to another, rather than on what together we can do for each other and our country. Caucasians are not racist every day, in every aspect of life, or to every person any more than Blacks are fearful and suspicious in each of these respects.

    A lot of misunderstanding has gone on regarding true feelings about race not because Caucasians are "cowards" but because of the desire not to offend and thus race does not get discussed at all. If a person is concerned about offending another, then oftentimes that person bends over backwards to show they are not racist and that can be awkward, too. Showing kindness, compassion, empathy (perhaps this above all), care and concern results in benefits for the giver as well as the recipient. The best rule still is: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." It has stood me in good stead over my 67 years in everything I've seen, done and experienced.

  • DirtCrashr

    Any person who thinks that a gun owner will simply open fire on people at the range, really and seriously has not even begun to think things through.

    Congrats on finding a good shooting spot and help getting your finacee to take a chance with the AR – my wife complains mainly about the weight of some of my guns (like the Garand) and actually enjoyed holding my AR.

    I wish our gun-laws in California were less class-driven and onerous, Iowa certainly has a lot to recommend it especially with Brownells being there! :-)

  • Michael

    Heck yeah! Thank you for giving this great write-up. Being a basic, white, American mutt (LOL!), I have not seen (much less participated) in racism at the range or gun store. It's great to hear about your completely positive experiences, given your perspective. It's also great to hear that you and your fiancé go shooting together. My wife and I go all the time, and that time together is quite special. As you get closer and continue shooting together, you will hear stories of jealously from some whose significant others do not shoot with them. You are absolutely right about the gun crowd being quite an upstanding bunch. I've found a higher concentration of quality individuals in our sport than in any other walk in life. Keep up the good work and be safe!

  • Ride Fast

    Found this post by way of SayUncle.

    Glad to hear of your positive experiences. It would be interesting (to me, anyway) to read your thoughts on where this misbegotten belief comes from.

    Related – I recently participated as an instructor in a "Fun Shoot" the local NRA Members' Council put on for new shooters. I was really surprised at all the comments from the new shooters about how "we" (gunnys) were all so nice.

  • Mad Saint Jack

    Did any of these friends ever voice concern over wearing the wrong "color" in the wrong "turf" while in Chicago?

    On a side note D L Hughley went to Texas to shoot guns for his short lived CNN show.

    Looks like he had a good time.

  • StrandedInIowa

    I too have found this site by way of SayUncle.

    Welcome to Iowa. I have found Iowans to generally be quite open about race and care more about character of one's heart. We are "generally" quite stupid about a many other things.

    You can now enjoy the diatribe that spews forth from Sen. Harkin and the irrelevent blather from Sen. Grassley, and shake your head wondering how either one gets re-elected.

  • SithSnoopy

    Dude, I'm very happy that you had nothing but good experiences at the gun stores and the ranges. :) That is awesome. :)

    I wish the news reported this… somehow reported how people of all colors/cultures/races/religions/political-views/sexual-orientations were getting along in such-and-such a place, regardless if they disagreed over culture/religion/political-views/sexual-orientations. :) I get tired of hearing the exact opposite… sigh.

    You CAN love someone who has a religion different from yours that you don't believe is correct. And you CAN love a gay person even if you don't believe the lifestyle is correct. And you CAN love a Democrat even if you are a Republican. Etc. And vice-versa, lol. :)

    And if you're gay, you CAN love a straight person who doesn't believe homosexuality is correct, even though your straight friend is obviously horrifically "unenlightened". :)

    Tolerance doesn't mean (or shouldn't mean) that you have to agree with each other… just that you can disagree peaceably.

    Ooof, where'd that soapbox come from? 😉

    Anyway, Dude, I'm glad no-one was a jerk to you. I wouldn't want to have to come out there and beat anybody over the head with a limp noodle.

    Don't laugh — my dogs live in fear of that limp noodle threat. 😉