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Iowa’s 2024 Legislative Session Begins Just Days After Mass Shooting at Perry High School; Lawmakers Need to Prioritize and Take Action on Gun Violence Prevention Measures

January 8, 2024

Iowa Legislators Return to Des Moines Just Four Days After Mass Shooting at Perry High School, Where a Sixth Grader Was Shot and Killed and Five Others Shot and Wounded 

DES MOINES, IA — Today, the Iowa legislature convenes for their 2024 legislative session. Session begins just four days 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 was shot and killed and five others, four of them students, were shot and wounded. As the session begins, lawmakers need to break from their dangerous pattern of favoring the gun lobby and reject efforts to continue to weaken the state’s gun laws. Instead, lawmakers need to find common ground on policies that will keep guns out of the wrong hands, like an Extreme Risk law, background checks on all firearms sales, and secure firearm storage requirements. 

“The horrific news out of Perry Iowa is the real life consequence of lawmakers choosing the gun lobby’s ‘guns everywhere’ agenda over protecting our children’s lives,” said Sarah Hayes, a volunteer with the Iowa chapter of Moms Demand Action. “Lawmakers in Iowa have spent years rolling back foundational gun safety laws, and replacing them with dangerous ones like a shoot first law. They are planning on pushing a gun omnibus package, falsely branded as school safety, that will force even more guns on and around school campuses. Governor Reynolds and Iowa lawmakers, the Perry community and families across the state don’t want your thoughts and prayers. We demand action to actually prevent future shootings and save our children’s lives. How many more kids need to be shot for you to care?”

“It shouldn’t take a tragedy to ignite action, but after the school shooting at Perry High School last week, we need our lawmakers to pass gun safety legislation more than ever,” said Chloe Gayer, a gun violence survivor, volunteer leader with the Drake University Students Demand Action chapter, and a member of the national advisory board of Students Demand Action. “Iowa still lacks some of the most basic gun safety laws that have proven to save lives. Our so-called leaders have wasted enough time over the years catering to the gun lobby’s agenda. This session, we’re demanding Iowa lawmakers pass common-sense gun safety laws so the next generation of students don’t have to constantly worry about getting shot at school, at home, at the movies, or anywhere else for that matter.” 

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. Iowa 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.

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