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An Iowa high school student has been appointed to the board of a grassroots gun safety organization

Chloe Gayer
Chloe Gayer of Ankeny has already been involved with the Iowa chapter of SDA for a couple of years.

An Iowa high school senior has been appointed to the Students Demand Action National Advisory Board.

Chloe Gayer of Ankeny has already been involved with the Iowa chapter of SDA for a couple of years. She said the mission of the grassroots organization is to stop gun violence.

“We work within our schools and also in our communities to educate our peers, register voters and demand, essentially, what we call common sense solutions to this national gun crisis,” she said.

Her work with the organization started when she wrote a speech reflecting on growing up with gun violence being a part of her life.

“I was reacting, and my peers were reacting so differently than all of the adults around us. It was just normal for us."

Despite being a common occurance, Gayer said school shootings and other instances of gun violence still affected her.

"We can see what's happening in Florida and in Oregon. And even when it's happening to someone that's not us, that's not close to us, it still feels like it hits us. And it's like the entire world is more connected than it used to be," she said.

Gayer said that SDA works on the local, state and national levels. Some of their projects include voter registration drives and gun safety education.

“So making sure that Iowa gun owners understand safe storage and how to store their firearms in a way that can keep them out of the hands of their children and of suicidal individuals,” said Gayer. “We also want to make sure that people understand that this movement isn’t about taking away your second amendment rights. It’s about taking and keeping firearms out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them, like domestic abusers.”

The Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Prevention and Policy reports that firearms are the most common weapon used in intimate partner homicides.

Gayer herself is a survivor of domestic gun violence, and she said her experience, as well as hearing about the experiences of other survivors, has shaped her worldview.

“That greatly impacted the way that I view the world and the way that I view my own safety," she said. "And that's something that I never want someone else to ever have to go through again, seeing the way that it's affected me and so many other survivors that I've got to meet across the country.”

The Iowa Department of Public Health reported a record 353 deaths from gunshot wounds in 2020, a 23 percent increase from the previous record, set in 2019.

Guyer said that teenagers and young adults interested in SDA can text the word “students” to 64433.

Caitlin Troutman is a talk show producer at Iowa Public Radio