Murders of two Iowa college students have some women seeking weapons

The Black Cat is just one weapon small enough for runners and other outdoor enthusiasts to carry with them for self defense. Fingers fit into the holes and allow it to be used to stab or gouge to stop an attacker

MARION, Iowa (CBS2/FOX28) – Nearly every day since University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts disappeared in July, people have come through the door at Cedar Valley Outfitters wanting to buy guns, knives or pepper spray. Owner Ernie Traugh says the inquiries and sales have now spiked again with the murder this week of Iowa State star athlete Celia Barquin Arozamena. Traugh says the young women were out doing what they loved, running and golfing, but the murders have raised questions and concerns about women alone in secluded areas.

Traugh says customers are surprised when he tells them the most powerful weapon is their mind and the best ammunition is awareness, “ I don’t want to tell anybody there’s a magical tool to keep you safe, because that’s simply not true. It’s sad for some people to hear you say this, but if someone’s going to set out to do you harm they can probably do it.”

Traugh says he wants to make it crystal clear that Mollie and Celia did absolutely nothing wrong, they were in places where people would expect to be relaxed and feel safe. But he says we all have to realize that when we are alone, we are responsible for our own safety and sadly we have to have the mindset that we would be willing to do anything to save our own lives if we even have that opportunity, “ People might say, well you could fight with a bag full of golf clubs and that’s true if you knew you were about to be in the fight for your life. In reality, any of us could be sneaked up on any day.”

Julie Potts says a lot of women are following the investigations into the deaths of Mollie and Celia and worried about the random circumstances. She says she and her husband both are licensed to carry guns and she says she would not hesitate to use hers to protect her kids or herself when she’s alone. Traugh says that’s the key. He says in self defense classes he notices some women doubt whether they could actually follow through with gouging someone in the eyes or kicking them in the groin or using a weapon on an attacker.

Marion Police Officer Tom Daubs agrees. He says there are times when people must be aggressive to avoid harm and if someone comes too close to you or appears intent on hurting you, it’s time to forget the ‘Iowa Nice' mentality, "If you feel threatened by them, turn around and say excuse me can you stop following me. Tell them to leave you alone and let them know you’re not going to be shy about it.”

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