Letter from the Editor | Why ‘guns in Iowa’ was chosen for the DI’s special edition

For this year’s special edition, the DI chose to focus on guns because it’s a hot-button and comprehensive topic.


Matt Sindt

A police officer walks through the crime near the entrance of Brother’s Bar and Grill after reports of shots fired near the Pedestrian Mall on in Iowa City, Iowa on Saturday, Jan. 14, 2023. Officers were able to detain the shooter, no one is believed to have been injured.

Hannah Pinski, Executive Editor

One of the most important responsibilities I have as executive editor is choosing stories that go in our print paper. Because The Daily Iowan only prints twice a week, I always want to make sure that our coverage has an impact on our community.

So, dedicating a whole issue like this print edition is a big deal.

When I began my tenure as Executive Editor, I knew I wanted one of our 68 print issues to be a “special edition” like editors have created in the past. The first one I was a part of was two years ago when the DI published a paper dedicated to “one year of COVID-19.”

After witnessing the issue’s impact, I realized the power that journalism has when we provide comprehensive coverage on a topic that’s important to our community.

A lot of potential special edition topics, such as student loan forgiveness, were thrown around during last semester.

So, why did we choose guns in Iowa? To state the obvious first, guns are a hot-button issue. In 2022, the U.S. Congress passed a milestone gun control bill that was supported by both Democrats and Republicans. This was the first time in almost 30 years that firearms legislation received bipartisan support.

On a state level, gun laws in Iowa have drastically changed within the past five years. One of the most notable changes happened during the 2021 Legislative Session, when Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a new law removing the requirement to obtain or carry a permit when possessing a gun within city limits.

More recently, 65 percent of Iowans voted in support of the “Right to Keep and Bear Arms” amendment to Iowa’s constitution that would strengthen protections for gun rights.

Second, guns are a comprehensive and data-heavy topic. From gun offenses to gun interceptions at Iowa airports, we knew this issue had the potential for a variety of stories and visually interesting graphics. That’s why we have a whole page dedicated to different numbers, statistics, and facts surrounding guns, gun violence, and gun regulations in Iowa and across the country.

Finally, another reason why we chose to focus on guns in this edition is because of the increased amount of gun violence and crime both locally and nationally. According to data from the Gun Violence Archive, 2022 was reported to be the second-highest year for mass shootings in the U.S.

While current University of Iowa students have been fortunate to avoid shooting events on campus, a number of shootings in downtown Iowa City have created concerns within the community. Universities like Michigan State have also experienced gun violence that killed four students last month, showing that the safety of students can quickly change.

Additionally, gun violence is costing Iowans, whether they’ve experienced it or not. On average, gun violence costs the state $4.2 billion every year, and $53 million of it is paid by taxpayers.

When we worked on this issue, we wanted to include as many different voices as possible. From politicians to health care workers to UI students, we were able to highlight a variety of voices and cover a wide range of topics in this paper.

We know our readership is going to have differing opinions on topics such as guns and methods to combat gun violence. The goal of this print edition isn’t just to provide statistics or facts about guns in the state.

I also hope that this special edition will spark conversation on these different issues. Our writers, photographers, and editors have worked on this edition since January, and we hope this paper makes the impact we want it to make.