Iowa Passes Bill Allowing School Employees to Carry Guns with Permit and Training

Iowa passes bill allowing school staff to carry firearms with training, sparking debate over school safety and gun violence risks.

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Nasiru Eneji Abdulrasheed
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Iowa Passes Bill Allowing School Employees to Carry Guns with Permit and Training

Iowa Passes Bill Allowing School Employees to Carry Guns with Permit and Training

The Iowa legislature has passed a bill that allows school employees to carry firearms on school grounds with a permit and training. House File 2586 was approved by the Iowa Senate on a 30-14 vote and now heads to the governor's desk for signature.

Under the new legislation, school employees who wish to carry a firearm on campus must meet certain training requirements, including quarterly firearm training and annual live situational training. They must also receive a permit from the Iowa Department of Public Safety.

The bill has drawn support from Republicans, who argue that it will improve school safety by allowing trained staff to respond quickly to potential threats. "This bill sets a high standard for districts and staff that want to participate, including one-time in-person legal training, quarterly firearm training, and annual live scenario training," said Republican Senator Jason Schultz.

However, Democrats have opposed the measure, arguing that it could increase the risk of gun violence in schools. They also raised concerns about liability issues if a school employee were to use a firearm. "The bill grants qualified immunity to armed school staff, protecting them from civil lawsuits or criminal prosecution if they used reasonable force and acted within the course of their duties," noted Democratic Senator Claire Celsi. "This leaves families with no options to receive compensation if their loved one is shot at school."

Why this matters: The passage of this bill in Iowa is part of a broader national debate about how to improve school safety and prevent mass shootings. While some argue that arming school staff is a necessary measure, others contend that it could lead to unintended consequences and increase the risk of gun-related accidents or violence in schools.

The bill also requires Iowa's largest school districts to employ school resource officers in their high schools, unless the school board votes to opt out. According to estimates, employing a school resource officer could cost school districts about $63,000. The Department of Public Safety would also need to hire eight positions to train SROs and school employees who obtain permits to carry guns at school. The legislation builds on a previously passed law that let school employees carry firearms, but did not require districts' insurers to cover them.

Key Takeaways

  • Iowa legislature passed a bill allowing school staff to carry firearms with permit and training.
  • Bill requires quarterly firearm training and annual live situational training for armed staff.
  • Republicans support the bill, arguing it will improve school safety; Democrats oppose it.
  • Bill grants qualified immunity to armed staff, limiting liability for use of force.
  • Bill also requires large districts to employ school resource officers, with an estimated $63,000 cost.