DES MOINES, Iowa – Less than a week after a U.S. congresswoman was critically wounded in a shooting outside an Arizona supermarket, a grocery store chain in Iowa has posted signs on its front windows banning firearms from its stores.
Officials from Dahl’s Foods, which operates a dozen major grocery stores in the Des Moines metro area, told WHO-TV that the ban will make stores safer for shoppers and employees, especially after a new state law that makes it easier for Iowans to obtain concealed carry permits has gone into effect.
Many Iowans, however, are opposed to telling customers to leave their guns in the parking lot.
Jim Bricker, a concealed carry permit owner from Stratford, Iowa, told WND that he’s shopped at Dahl’s a few times, but the ban makes him less likely to go again. Stopping law-abiding gun owners from carrying weapons, he says, will only make the stores more dangerous.
“I think it’s a terrible idea,” Bricker said of the gun ban, “because if someone has it in their head to go in and rob a place, they’re going to do it. If permit holders are forbidden from carrying firearms in that store, [criminals] just have free rein to do anything they want.”
On WHO-Radio, Des Moines’ largest talk station, news of the ban lit up the telephone lines.
“At first the callers were all ready to storm the produce department, declaring, ‘We’re never going to shop there again,'” said Jan Mickelson, who hosts a morning talk show on WHO. “They’re politicized, they’re ready to pounce.
“But this has happened before,” Mickelson told WND. “[Another grocery] did this too, then they got feedback and said, ‘Oops, we didn’t know,’ and changed the policy. I think Dahl’s will do the same thing eventually … Once [the callers] calmed down, a lot said they’d write a nice letter, go talk to the management types.
“I just hate to see a local company shoot themselves in the foot for no good reason,” he continued. “They say it’s about safety. It’s silly. Iowans don’t buy that. They’re protecting against the wrong people. … One guy called in and said, ‘Hey, if only I’d have known it was that easy. I had a relative who was shot in his retail store. If he’d only known that signs keep people safe, he’d have put up a sign and avoided the whole thing.’
“It’s just silly logic,” Mickelson concluded, “or non-logic.”
On Jan. 1, a new law went into effect in Iowa that limits the reasons a concealed carry permit application can be rejected to violence convictions, mental illness and a few other specific grounds. Prior to the law taking effect, county sheriffs could reject applications for almost any reason.
By Jan. 3, United Press International reports, applications for concealed carry permits in Iowa had skyrocketed, especially in Des Moines’ Polk County, where as many people applied in one day as typically apply in a month.
On Jan. 8, however, worries about firearms rose to the national stage when a gunman opened fire on a crowd outside a Safeway supermarket north of Tucson, Ariz., killing six people and critically wounding Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz.
Dahl’s Foods refused multiple requests for comment on the story.