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Iowa Lawmakers are Still Advancing Dangerous Legislation to Arm Teachers in Schools; Here’s What You Need to Know:

March 15, 2024

DES MOINES, I.A. – Yesterday, after weeks of the bill sitting dormant, the Senate Education Committee advanced House File 2586, despite previously signaling legislators were not interested in passing this dangerous bill. The bill was voted out of committee and it is now headed to the Senate floor, the last stop before reaching the Governor’s desk. House File 2586 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. 

“Arming teachers does NOT make our kids safer — it puts more risk in classrooms and is completely counterproductive in creating a school safety policy,” said Brigit Barnes, a volunteer with the Iowa chapter of Moms Demand Action. “Instead of prioritizing measures that will actually keep gun violence out of classrooms, extremist lawmakers in Iowa are politicizing falsehoods spread by the gun lobby that claim allowing school districts to arm more people will create a safer environment for students. In reality, reckless legislation like this only increases the likelihood that a student will have access to a gun, potentially hurting themselves, their classmates or their teachers. We urge Iowa senators to reject this measure and prioritize common sense gun safety measures.”

“Arming teachers is completely out of touch with the solutions we know to actually reduce gun violence,” said Hannah Hayes, a volunteer leader with the Iowa Students Demand Action chapter. “We need background checks, an extreme risk protection law, to get assault weapons off our streets, and reinstate permit to purchase and concealed carry – NOT put more guns in schools. This defies all common sense. We deserve better than our schools being plagued by guns and we demand Iowa lawmakers reject this measure immediately.” 

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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