DES MOINES, I.A. – Everytown for Gun Safety and its grassroots network, Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, released the following statements in response to the Associated Press report that Iowa has largely not spent any of their promised $75 million in federal funding for school safety. This report comes just weeks after a mass shooting at Perry High School in Perry, Iowa, perpetrated by a 17 year old shooter, rocked the entire state. A sixth grader and the school principal were shot and killed, and six others, four of them students, were shot and wounded.
“It is infuriating but unfortunately not surprising that our state, led by a Governor who presented herself as indifferent to our children being shot at school by providing zero response to a mass school shooting, has not invested the time prioritizing funding school safety measures,” said Michelle Lange, a volunteer with the Iowa chapter of Moms Demand Action. “We need to be investing in preventing further tragedies by prioritizing school safety. It’s deeply disappointing and frustrating that we even have to continue asking how many more of our children need to die for you to take action? We won’t stop fighting for common sense gun safety until every Iowan is guaranteed it.”
“While guns continue to be the leading cause of death for my generation, Iowa leadership can’t be bothered enough to fill out paperwork that would give us access to more funding for school safety. Their failure is putting lives at risk,” said Gavin Hoedl, a leader with Students Demand Action Iowa. “Our movement is called gun violence prevention for a reason. We need to take action before tragedy strikes, not just after. It shouldn’t have to take someone being gunned down for our leaders to take the basic steps to protect students and young people across the state. We deserve better than this.”
Guns are the second leading cause of death among children and teens in Iowa and an average of 29 children and teens die by guns every year in the state. Firearms are the leading cause of death for children, teens, and college-aged people (ages 1 to 25) in the United States. Every year, nearly 19,000 children and teens are shot and killed or wounded and approximately three million are exposed to gun violence. Children and teens in the U.S. are impacted by gun violence in all its forms.
Exposure to gun violence has an impact on the psychological and mental well-being of children and teens and affects their school performance, among other negative impacts. People are also traumatized when a friend or family member is killed with a gun, when someone they know is shot, and when they witness and hear gunshots.
Iowa has weak gun laws and extremist lawmakers have spent the last decade rolling back the few gun safety measures they once had, including the state legislature’s recent votes to eliminate both its permit-to-purchase and concealed carry permitting requirements in 2021. Just four years earlier, Iowa enacted a Shoot First law. Iowa also sees disparate racial impacts of gun violence that exceed the national average: Black people in the state are significantly more likely to die by gun violence than white people. More information about gun violence in Iowa is available here.