The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Iowa House Republicans approve bill to arm teachers

The bill provides training requirements and gives local control over arming teachers, and private security guards.
Ayrton Breckenridge
The inside of the gold dome is seen during the first day of the 2024 Iowa legislative session at the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines on Monday, Jan. 8, 2024. The Republicans have 34 seats in the senate and the Democrats have 16 seats.

After a more than hour-long, heated debate on a proposal to provide licensing and training for school staff who want to carry firearms for protection, the Iowa House approved the bill, 61-34, on Wednesday. 

The bill comes more than a month after a fatal school shooting in Perry, Iowa, just 40 miles from Des Moines, that killed 11-year-old Amir Jolliff and Perry High School Principal Dan Marburger

The bill, House File 2586, would require teachers and staff who wish to carry a firearm to protect students to be licensed through the Iowa Department of Public Safety and the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy. 

The bill would also give local control for school boards to hire private security, contract with the police force to get more School Resource Officers, and to decide whether or not teachers are allowed to carry weapons on school grounds. 

The bill would also give qualified immunity to teachers and security guards licensed under the bill. The clause in the bill would give immunity from civil liability for injuries or other torts due to a teacher carrying a firearm. This would only allow suits regarding violations of clearly established legal and constitutional rights.

Republicans say law enforcement can take up to several minutes to make it to the scene in the event of a shooting, and the more trained and able to protect students, the better. 

In the case of the Perry shooting, it took seven minutes for the first law enforcement officer to arrive on the scene after an emergency call was activated at the school. 

“Having somebody there on the scene that is right there that is trained, that knows how to get to that classroom, that knows how to get to that auditorium, that knows how to get to that ballfield and can be there in seconds,” House Majority Leader Matt Windschitl, R-Missouri Valley, said during impassioned debate on the floor of the House late Wednesday. “Look at the statistics — seconds count. Seconds save lives.” 

Windschitl said the legislature should afford the same protections to schools that lawmakers afford to themselves, and allow schools to decide how to protect students. 

“People with bad intentions are going to do bad things,” he said. “People with good intentions are there to stop them.”

Democrats said the bill is an improvement on legislation passed in 2023 that allowed teachers to carry guns. However, they said adding more guns doesn’t address the root of the problem, pointing to a growing mental health crisis in the state. 

“We need to address mental illness. We need to address mental health and we all know it,” Rep. Beth Wessel-Kroeschell, D-Ames, said. 

Democrats also said gun safety reforms can be put in place to help prevent guns from getting into the hands of bad actors. Iowa House Democrats have introduced a host of legislation aimed at keeping domestic abusers from obtaining weapons, allowing judges to take weapons away from those who pose a danger, and more. 

“We can invest in mental health care, and we should. We can invest in infrastructure for our schools, we can invest in training,” Rep. Adam Zabner, D-Iowa City, said. “The truth is it’s the guns and until we deal with that part of the problem, we are not going to solve this.” 

Republicans said they are committed to looking at the issues contributing to gun violence holistically, including looking at mental health and other contributors. However, they say this bill will help save lives. 

“Even with the best attempts to prevent these scenarios, bad things happen,” Rep. Phil Thompson, R-Jefferson, said. “And this bill ensures that more people are in our school buildings prepared to respond in the event of these emergency situations to protect our kids, and I believe this bill will save lives.” 

More to Discover
About the Contributors
Liam Halawith
Liam Halawith, Politics Editor
Liam Halawith is a third-year student at the University of Iowa studying Journalism and Mass Communication and minoring in Public Policy. Before his role as Politics Editor Liam was a politics reporter for the DI. Outside of the DI Liam has interned at the Cedar Rapids Gazette and the Southeast Iowa Union. This is his second year working for the DI.
Ayrton Breckenridge
Ayrton Breckenridge, Managing Visuals Editor
Ayrton Breckenridge is the Managing Visuals Editor at The Daily Iowan. He is a senior at the University of Iowa majoring in journalism and cinema. This is his fourth year working for the DI.