PERRY, I.A. – Everytown for Gun Safety and its grassroots network, Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, released the following statements in response to a shooting at Perry High School in Perry Iowa. While details are still unfolding, law enforcement has announced multiple gunshot victims. Today is the first day of the second semester for the school district and students’ first day back at school in the new year following the winter break.
“This is America. Students can’t even make it one day back to school after winter break without gun violence wreaking havoc in our lives,” said Brittany Kaufmann, a gun violence survivor and volunteer with Iowa Students Demand Action. “Thoughts and prayers are meaningless without the action of our leaders to do their jobs and protect our right to live. Schools everywhere should be a sanctuary for us, not a place where we have to wonder whether or not we’ll be shot. Enough is enough.”
“What should have been a day focused on sharing stories about the holidays and wishing friends and teachers a happy new year was instead spent hiding from blood shed,” said Hope Johnson, a volunteer with the Iowa chapter of Moms Demand Action. “It’s frustrating that we even have to say this, but students should feel safe going to class and not worry about whether we might get shot. To our lawmakers, we ask, once again, how many more of us have to die before you take action to put an end to this crisis?”
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.
Iowa lawmakers return for the 2024 legislative session four days from now, on January 8th — they will be conveying as families continue to deal with the aftermath of this shooting. Lawmakers should prioritize measures that will keep guns out of Iowa classrooms and make Iowans safer, over gun lobby priorities like reintroducing a law to require children enrolled in firearm safety training programs in public schools to go through the National Rifle Association’s “Eddie Eagle” program. The program was deemed ineffective by the American Academy of Pediatrics. More information about gun violence in Iowa is available here.