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Area residents take advantage of gun class

With all of the gun-related violence that has taken place in the country over the last few months, citizens across the county are seeking new ways to protect themselves, and Jasper County residents are no exception.

More than 50 people showed up to the Jasper County Community Center last Saturday morning to take part in the Iowa Permit carrying classes taught by Steve Hensyel of HawkEye Firearms Instruction. He also taught a class for a Utah permit later in the afternoon.

“We wanted to learn the laws,” said Julie Dougan, who attended the Iowa session with her husband, Scott. “We wanted to learn what you can do and what you cannot do. We want to be able to keep our family safe. We have four kids.”

The Iowa session is a four-hour session that covers everything from basic firearm handling to liability and the consequences of misusing your firearm.

“I recommend this class for everyone, its very informative,” said Julie, a citizen who attended but declined to give her last name.

Hensyel is a very informed teacher and very thoroughly explains the risks that go along with carrying a weapon to his students.

“If it’s not worth dying over, its not worth killing over,” Hensyel said. “Nothing I own is worth killing over. It’s just stuff. Conflict avoidance is important. You have to ask yourself, ‘Is the situation worth dying over? Is the situation worth going to jail over?’”

While he stresses the importance of avoiding trouble, he also teaches his students that awareness is the key to preventing an attack on oneself and to keep the Tueller Drill, also known as the 21 Feet Rule in mind. The rule basically states that the average person can cover 21 feet in about 1.5 seconds and that you should keep that fact in mind if you are trying to draw your handgun in order to defend yourself.

“Being aware of your situation is your best way of being safe,” said Hensyel who also summed up the best way to defend yourself if you are unable to reach your weapon. “You have to out-violence your attacker.”

The course also gives you the rundown on how to get your Iowa Permit and some facts about it:

• You have to have completed the course to get a permit

• Must be an Iowa resident

• Must be at least 21 years old

• You have to apply at the Sheriff’s Office in your county of residence

• The sheriff then has 30 days to issue your permit if you pass a background check

• The Iowa permit is valid in 28 states; the Utah permit gets you an additional five states.

• The permit is valid for five years and allows you to take home weapons on the same day you purchase them

• To renew, you can do a shooting test or retake the class.

• You have 30 days before it expires to renew

Hensyel also advises his students to sign up for NRA Self-Defense Insurance and to seek out a good self-defense attorney before you need one.

“I teach a lot on the liability. I teach a lot on the law itself, and I teach a lot about that responsibility,” said Hensyel on why people should attend his courses. “I try to give a thorough course and get people thinking about those other things besides just the safety aspect of it.”

With 19 years of experience and students who swear by him, Hensyel just wants people to learn the laws and the risk that come with carrying a weapon no matter who it’s from.

“Seek out good training,” said Hensyel. “Not all courses are equal. Kind of shop around, a course doesn’t have to be expensive. The most expensive course doesn’t mean its a good one, and the cheapest one doesn’t mean its a bad one.”

Daily News Staff Writer Ty Rushing may be contacted at

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