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Gun safety instruction for students, permitting guns in school parking lots proposed
The separate proposals were considered Tuesday; one had bipartisan support, the other did not
DES MOINES — Students would be taught gun safety in Iowa schools, and it would be legal for adults to have a gun in their car while in a school parking lot under separate bills that were considered by state lawmakers Tuesday.
Under one proposal, Iowa K-12 students would be given age-appropriate firearm instruction as part of schools’ emergency operations plan.
That proposal was offered by Rep. Skyler Wheeler, a Republican from Hull who represents a rural northwest Iowa district, and Rep. Ako Abdul-Samad, a Democrat who represents a portion of Des Moines.
Abdul-Samad’s son was killed in a shooting in 1997 at age 20. The death was ruled an accident.
“My baby isn’t growing up. My baby was shot in the chest and killed by another young man who didn’t know a thing about a gun,” Abdul-Samad said Tuesday during a legislative hearing on the proposal. “So this is reality that we’re facing.”
Abdul-Samad said that reality is that guns are in people’s homes, they are being brought into schools, and they are being found in public places. Because of that reality, Iowa children should be taught what to do when they discover a gun, he said.
“We also have to provide a vehicle so that those children who see a gun know what to do, and the best way to do that is to help educate our babies,” Abdul-Samad said.
Under the proposal, students would be allowed to opt out of the instruction.
The proposed legislation, House File 73, advanced and is now eligible for consideration by the full House education committee. Abdul-Samad said House lawmakers have not yet discussed the proposal with lawmakers in the Senate.
“This is a great step for our kids,” said Rep. Henry Stone, a Republican from Forest City and member of the legislative panel that advanced the bill Tuesday.
Allowing guns in cars belonging to adults
Meantime, under a separate bill that also advanced Tuesday, adults would be allowed to have a gun in their car while on the grounds of schools and universities, corrections facilities, and casinos.
That proposal, House Study Bill 173, did not have bipartisan support. It advanced only with the support of Republicans, and is now eligible for consideration by the full House public safety committee.
Rep. Brian Meyer, a Democrat from Des Moines, said he opposes the bill and considers it a property rights issue. He argued schools, corrections facilities and casinos should be allowed to regulate whether guns are permitted on their premises.
Rep. Phil Thompson, a Republican from Jefferson who chairs the House’s public safety committee, argued that property rights also apply to drivers.
“Individual property rights matter as well,” he said.
Rep. Steve Holt, a Republican from Denison, said the bill attempts to balance the rights of schools and jails with individuals’ rights.
“I understand the conflict with the rights of business owners to control what goes on in their parking lot. I actually get that argument. I do,” Holt said. “We also have the rights of the law-abiding citizen who owns that vehicle to think about as well.”
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