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Iowa Lawmakers Advance Two Proposals To Allow Loaded Guns On School Grounds

Iowa lawmakers gave preliminary approval this week to two measures that would expand the circumstances in which loaded guns are allowed on school grounds.

One would make it legal for parents with a valid permit to have a loaded weapon on them while they’re in a school parking lot or driveway, dropping off or picking up their kids. It would not allow parents to bring weapons into school buildings.

Sen. Brad Zaun, R-Urbandale, proposed the bill.

“There’s a lot of permit carriers out there that do this and they don’t realize they’re in violation,” Zaun said.

It’s currently legal to have a firearm in a car on school grounds, but it has to be unloaded and locked up out of reach.

Some school associations and religious groups are opposing the bill because of safety concerns.

Melissa Peterson, a lobbyist for the Iowa State Education Association, said one of her organization’s priorities is the safety of students and teachers.

“We don’t think their safety should be put at risk because of someone’s inconvenience,” Peterson said.

The second proposal, sponsored by a Democrat, would allow any law enforcement officer to have a weapon on school grounds and in school buildings, including when they’re off-duty. It’s intended to fix a previous law that excluded some law enforcement officers.

Sen. Kevin Kinney, D-Oxford, sponsored the bill.

“There are a lot of agencies that require their officers to carry 24 hours a day, and we’re just trying to take any of the grayness out of that,” Kinney said.

No one present at the subcommittee meeting said they were opposed to this measure.

Both proposals have been sent to the full Senate Judiciary Committee for consideration.

Katarina Sostaric is IPR's State Government Reporter