Meet Iowa's "Toddler Militia"

The state of Iowa has a dirty little secret most gun owners are unaware of.

In the Hawkeye state, it is illegal for citizens under the age of 14 to shoot a handgun. Even with parents’ supervision and instruction, regardless of the fact that these same youngsters can shoot a long barrel rifle or even an uzzi, it is illegal for them to handle a handgun.

When legislation was drafted to put the power back into parents’ hands, one Iowa Representative had an interesting take on the implications that would have on her state.

“What this bill does, the bill before us, allows for 1-year-olds, 2-year-olds, 3-year-olds, 4-year-olds to operate handguns. We do not need a militia of toddlers. We do not have handguns, that I am aware of, that fit the hands of a 1- or 2-year-old,” Democratic Rep. Kirstin Running-Marquardt said of the legislation.

Marquardt’s “toddler militia” is actually a pair of sisters who are doing their part to change the law, rallying Iowans to learn about and support The Youth Safety & Parental Rights Act (House File 2281), which passed the House in February by a vote of 62-36.

“What better way to teach my daughters about our democratic republic than to actually get them involved in something they are passionate about?” the girls’ father Nathan Gibson said.

Raised in a hunting family, the girls learned gun safety from their father, and learned to shoot at the age of 5. The girls each developed a deep appreciation and respect for shooting sports and, after seeing YouTube videos of Cheyenne Roberts shooting 3-gun, asked their father if they could compete as well.

Which they now do – very well, I might add.

Iowa sisters Natalie and Meredith Gibson (L-R) pose with their guns during a youth shooting event in Louisville, KY during the NRA Annual Meetings. Photo: Oleg Volk
Natalie Gibson, age 10, shoots her DPMS Oracle with Strike Eagle Scope during the NRA Annual Meetings in Louisville, KY. Photo: Eric Saperstein
Meredith Gibson, age 12, shoots her Smith & Wesson M&P 9mm during the NRA Annual Meetings in Louisville, KY. Photo: Eric Saperstein

Now that Natalie and Meredith are both shooters in 3-gun competitions across the country, their family is forced to travel to Illinois to practice with 1/3 of their sport’s equipment, since participants are scored based on their skills with rifles, shotguns and pistols and they aren’t allowed to handle pistols in the state of Iowa. Gibson said the bill would finally allow his daughters to freely participate in youth events with the Scholastic Shooting Sports Foundation.

“This is literally about youth scholastic shooting, which leads to eventually, potentially as a father could hope, an Olympic gold medal, scholarships, things like that,” Gibson said in the interview. “It’s about my daughters’ sport.”

Not content to let ignorance drive the narrative, Gibson says the girls have left school early each Wednesday for the past three years to travel to the state house, standing on the steps of the capital to talk with the senators about the law that prevents them from practicing handguns.

Meredith and Natalie are even spending their summer knocking on doors and joining local radio programs to help educate Iowans on current laws and telling their side of the story on why they feel it should be changed.

In a op-ed written for Bearing Arms, Meredith Gibson talks about her fight to change minds and gun laws in Iowa. This girl is an inspiration and someone we should all be working to emulate in our own communities and states!

You can find Meredith’s article [HERE]