GOP senators want to allow school personnel with gun permits to be armed

DES MOINES – Senate Republicans indicated Wednesday they plan to propose allowing teachers, administrators or other school personnel who have been issued a permit to carry a gun to be authorized to bring the firearm into the school building as a safety precaution.

Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Red Oak, requested that a school safety bill that was called up for floor debate Wednesday be deferred to allow time for minority Republicans to come with their amendment. She said language was still being drafted but it likely would deal with gun-related issues.

Senate GOP Leader Bill Dix of Shell Rock confirmed that the amendment under consideration would allow – in the absence of any current policies – school officials to adopt future emergency management plans that would allow teachers, administrators and others who have been issued a permit to carry to be in school with a gun.

“The thinking is that if you have people who are prepared, trained and ready to defend that have a permit to carry, that that’s a whole lot better than trying to throw themselves, a body or something like that in front of someone who is endangering the students,” Dix said.

The presence of weapons or having armed police officers on school grounds has been a front-burner topic in the wake of a December 2012 fatal shooting spree in which Adam Lanza shot his mother at home, then killed 26 people (20 children and six staff) and himself at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

In the aftermath of the Newtown, Conn., incident, which was the second-deadliest school shooting in U.S. history, the Iowa Senate took up a bill Wednesday that would require each board of directors of an Iowa school district to develop and implement a comprehensive emergency management plan that addresses school safety, security procedures, and emergency guidelines relating to school shootings, assaults, and other incidences that threaten the safety and security of school students and school employees.

Senate File 320 provides that the plans would include training procedures for teachers and other school employees and students, as well as developing and implementing school-community partnerships in the local community that would encompass mental health service partnerships.

Sen. Herman Quirmbach, D-Ames, the bill’s floor manager, said he would decline comment until he is sees the proposed GOP amendment, but he added “it would surprise the heck out of me” if Democrats who hold a 26-24 majority in the Senate would adopt language to allow weapons is schools as part of school safety measures.

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