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Following Mass Shooting at Perry High School, Iowa House Lawmakers Pass Dangerous Legislation to Arm Teachers in Schools; Iowa Moms Demand Action, Students Demand Action Respond

February 29, 2024

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 Iowa House passing a dangerous gun bill, House File 2586, which would allow school employees to bring guns on school property. Additionally, the measure provides qualified immunity to armed school personnel, which raises concerns about accountability.

This dangerous vote taken by Iowa lawmakers comes just under two months after a mass shooting at Perry High School in Perry, Iowa, 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. 

“How many times do students have to go to bat, begging out-of-touch lawmakers to stop putting more guns in our classrooms?” said Chloe Gayer, a volunteer leader with the Des Moines Students Demand Action chapter. “Our lives are now even more at risk from the legislature’s actions today. When our lawmakers respond to school shootings by forcing more guns into our schools, it is time for new leadership. We deserve better than this. Thanks to the members who stood up for students.” 

“Instead of prioritizing measures that will actually keep gun violence out of classrooms, extremist lawmakers are politicizing falsehoods, and only increasing the likelihood that gun violence will enter our school grounds,” said Madonna Backstrom, a volunteer with the Iowa chapter of Moms Demand Action. “Let teachers teach. This is not the job they signed up for.” 

Arming teachers and staff is opposed by school safety experts, teachers, and law enforcement – and with good reason. Research shows that arming teachers introduces new risks of gun violence in schools and puts the lives of students, teachers, and law enforcement in danger. Arming teachers and people on campus only increases the chances of students experiencing gun violence at school. 

When a gun is in the classroom, students can get access to it. There have been multiple incidents of students and teachers finding misplaced firearms: in bathrooms, locker rooms, and even sporting events. Additionally, the notion of a highly trained teacher armed with a gun, able to respond as quickly as trained law enforcement, is a myth. Law enforcement officers receive hundreds of hours of training but Iowa would allow armed personnel to carry in schools potentially with much less training.

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. 

States with the weakest gun laws tend to have higher rates of gun violence than states with stronger gun laws. Iowa has weak gun laws and extremist lawmakers have spent the last decade rolling back the gun safety measures they once had, including the state legislature’s recent votes to eliminate both its handgun permit-to-purchase and concealed carry permitting requirements in 2021. Just four years earlier, Iowa enacted a Shoot First law. Last session, lawmakers also introduced legislation to nullify federal gun laws and penalize law enforcement agencies who attempt to enforce federal gun safety protections, despite widespread opposition from public safety advocates.
More information about gun violence in Iowa is available here.

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