Iowa new gun permits soar following George Floyd’s death, Black Lives Matter protests

Gun permits soared in Iowa last month during protests that followed the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. (Photo by James Carroll/Getty Images Plus)

Gun sales and permits were already on the rise in 2020, but those numbers skyrocketed in June as nearly 7,000 newly issued gun permits went through the Iowa Department of Public Safety, according to data from the department.

While gun permits don’t equate to firearm purchases, the numbers show Iowa may be following a nationwide trend of more people seeking out firearms and ammunitions after the death of George Floyd and the protests that followed.

Between Jan. 1 and June 30, Iowa law enforcement agencies issued 32,880 nonprofessional permits to carry a firearm. That’s 10,000 more permits than were issued during the same period in 2019. Out of this year’s permits, 8,007 of them were issued in June and 6,847 were for new applications.

In June 2019, only 2,341 permits were issued.

Iowa firearm retailers were already seeing an uptick, particularly in ammunition sales, when the COVID-19 pandemic began in March.

At Daryl’s Gun Shop in State Center, Dana Schoppe, a manager at the store, said she noticed people were stockpiling ammunition, similar to how some were hoarding items like toilet paper.

“We still had people that came in with masks on that were fearful of the virus but also fearful of what may come and not be prepared,” Schoppe said.

While Schoppe said State Center hasn’t had protests like those happening in other areas, she said “a lot of the rioting and looting scared people as well.”

At the store, there’s been an increase in new customers and people using their shooting ranges.

Even if Iowans want to purchase firearms or ammo, Schoppe said there’s a supply-and-demand issue because gun manufacturing companies shut down production due to COVID-19.

Schoppe estimates gun sales went up 150% since the COVID-19 pandemic started, but at the same time, her store is on an eight-week backorder for ammunition.

“I can usually find what I need within two to three days,” Schoppe said. “For it to jump to eight weeks is stressful. I don’t have anything for my customers.”

Firearm permits issued in Iowa, according to Iowa Department of Public Safety

Jan. 1 to June 30, 2020

Nonprofessional Permit to Carry Weapons – 32,880
Permit to Acquire Pistol or Revolver – 7,777
Peace Officer Permits – 402
Reserve Peace Officer – 20
Resident Professional Permit – 171
Nonresident Professional Permit – 38
Correctional Officer – 12

Jan. 1 to June 30, 2019

Nonprofessional Permit to Carry Weapons – 22,524
Permit to Acquire Pistol or Revolver – 3,088
Peace Officer Permits – 548
Reserve Peace Officer – 37
Resident Professional Permit – 179
Nonresident Professional Permit – 25
Correctional Officer – 6

Linh Ta
Reporter Linh Ta comes to Iowa Capital Dispatch from the Des Moines Register, where she covered trending news, public safety and the suburbs. Most recently, she has covered retail business and followed both national and local trends to provide insight about the issues that matter the most to Iowans. Beyond traditional journalism, Ta has worked as a speech coach with the Des Moines Storytellers Project with the goal of sharing the diverse perspectives of Iowans from all walks of life. She is the 2019 winner of the Young Iowa Journalist Award and the winner of an Iowa Broadcast News Award. Email her at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @linhmaita.