A limited exception to Iowa’s law making it a felony to carry firearms onto school property has cleared an initial hurdle at the statehouse, with the backing of the Iowa Firearms Coalition.
Under the bill, a gun owner with a permit to carry can remain armed while driving onto school property for the sole purpose of transporting a student, but without entering the school building.
The bill cleared a three-member bipartisan panel and will now be considered by the full Senate Judiciary Committee.
Coalition lobbyist Richard Rogers says it’s common for a gun owner with a permit to go about a typical day carrying a weapon, and then be called on an errand to the school.
“Say a person wasn't planning to pick up their kids but their spouse calls and says I need you to pick up Johnny and Sally and take them to the dentist,” Rogers said at a hearing on the bill. “He drives up on the property, pulls up on the U drive, sees his kids there, picks them up, he’s committed a felony.”
Under current law, to avoid the charge, the gunowner must pull over, unload the weapon, and store it in the trunk before driving onto school property. Then he must reverse the process after leaving the
“That manipulation of the weapon multiplied many times through the year ultimately will lead to an accident,” Rogers said.
At a hearing, representatives of the Iowa Association of School Boards and the Iowa Interfaith Alliance spoke against the bill.
“We just don’t see that this as necessary, and we see this increasing our risk,” said IASB lobbyist Emily Piper.
“Why in today’s world, with all of the school shootings that we’ve had, with all of the shootings in other public venues, but particularly schools, why is the safety of our children not the primary thing that we’re looking at?” asked Interfaith Alliance spokeswoman Connie Ryan.
But Sen. Jason Schultz (R-Schleswig) said Iowans with weapons permits are the good guys, and allowing them onto schoolgrounds will make kids safer.
“The more good guys you get armed in our schools I believe the safer our children,” Schultz said. “If we could expand this further I would.”
The activist group Everytown for Gun Safety is monitoring the bill.
Rogers said the bill is a “necessary change” now that more and more Iowans have permits to carry weapons.
“Back in the day when we had 25-30,000 Iowans who had a permit to carry weapons it probably wasn't that much of an issue that it was a felony to carry onto school grounds, even if only in your vehicle and for a moment,” Rogers said. “But now we have nearly 300,000 Iowans with a permit to carry weapons.”