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DISAPPOINTING AND DISGRACEFUL: Despite Widespread Opposition, Governor Reynolds Quietly Signs Dangerous Policy to Arm Teachers and Staff Into Law


Bill to Arm Teachers Signed Into Law Just Months After the Mass School Shooting at Perry High School

While States Across the Country Are Responding to School Shootings by Passing Critical Gun Safety Laws, Iowa is Responding to School Shootings By Putting More Guns in Schools

DES MOINES, I.A. — Today, Everytown for Gun Safety and its grassroots networks, Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, released the following statements after Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed dangerous legislation into law, House File 2586, which will allow school employees to bring guns on school property. Additionally, the measure provides qualified immunity to armed school personnel, which raises concerns about accountability. The Governor signed this bill just hours after receiving it from the legislature, without comment, as the bill was widely and publicly opposed. 

This action comes months after a mass shooting at Perry High School in Perry, Iowa, perpetrated by a 17-year-old shooter, rocked the entire state. While other states have responded to mass shootings by passing critical gun safety bills, like the Maine legislature passing legislation to establish background checks for gun sales, Iowa has chosen to force more guns into classrooms. 

“Today is a major setback for the safety of Iowa students. Putting deadly weapons into the hands of our teachers will only put more lives at risk,” said Chloe Gayer, a gun violence survivor and volunteer leader with Drake University Students Demand Action chapter. “The response to school shootings simply can’t be to force more guns into our classrooms. Governor Reynolds quietly signed this bill into law hoping no one would notice – but we did. Gun safety continues to rank as a top issue among young voters and come this November, it’ll be no different.” 

“Today, Iowa has become a more dangerous place for our children,” said Jamie Oberhue, second-grade teacher, and a volunteer with the Iowa chapter of Moms Demand Action. “Arming teachers is a dangerous and flawed policy, which the Iowa lawmakers that passed this policy clearly knew, hence their decision to provide all armed personnel with immunity. The Governor’s sneaky and immediate signing purportedly to avoid controversy says all. Kim Reynolds: I hope you know this will forever be your legacy. You responded to our babies being shot in their classrooms, not by taking action to prevent guns from coming into schools, but instead forcing more in. Shame on you.” 

“Inviting more guns into schools is a dangerous, reckless policy that only puts students at risk,” said Angela Ferrell-Zabala, executive director of Moms Demand Action. “Teachers just want to teach. We’re committed to voting out the extremist lawmakers who pushed this bill forward, and elect lawmakers who actually care about the safety of Iowa’s communities.”

Since House File 2586 was passed by the Iowa legislature, in just days, over one thousand Iowans have signed a petition asking the Governor to veto this bill. The bill was opposed by teachers across the state and gun violence survivors.

There is an estimated maximum compliance cost of $2,520,000 for implementation of this bill. The Iowa legislature chose to fund this bill, instead of fully funding summer meals at schools, which would cost the state less. They could also have allocated that funding for proven methods of enhancing school safety, such as hiring more school counselors, implementing threat assessment programs, and improving mental health services for students.

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.