Iowa high school senior says bill to arm teachers makes him feel ‘unsafe’

Iowa high school senior says bill to arm teachers makes him feel ‘unsafe’

Des Moines high school student Trey Jackson speaks to Iowa Senators during a subcommittee on a bill to arm Iowa teachers. Photo by Sean Dengler

By Ty Rushing

March 6, 2024

An Iowa school student questioned state senators about a Republican proposal to arm Iowa teachers and staff in an attempt to deter school shooters.

“This bill, for me, makes me feel unsafe, it means that this bill is going to put more guns into the hands of students and, frankly I find that profoundly nonsensical. I don’t understand why that is the goal,” said Trey Jackson, a senior at Roosevelt High School in Des Moines, referencing situations in other states where school staff or police officers accidentally left their guns unattended in schools

“Why we are focusing on reactionary policies, why we’re saying school shootings are always going to happen at such a high rate that we might as well just put guns in schools… I ask that we focus more on preventive policies rather than reactionary.”

In addition to being a student, Jackson is a volunteer for Brady: United Against Gun Violence, a nonprofit that advocates for tougher gun laws and a wholesale approach to ending gun violence in America.

The teenager shared statistics, data, and real-world examples of the potential dangers of adding more guns to schools as the senators contemplated HF 2586, a bill to train and arm school staff and grant them “qualified immunity” in the case of an accidental shooting or misfire.

Iowa House Republicans passed HF 2586 last week.

The bill also requires Iowa’s 11 largest school districts to have at least one armed private security guard or school resources officer (SRO) at all high school buildings unless the school board opts out of this clause.

 Republican senators Lynn Evans of Aurelia and Julian Garrett of Indianola voted to advance the bill to the full Iowa Senate Education Committee while Sen. Herman Quirmbach (D-Ames) declined to sign off.

During the subcommittee, Garrett had a few exchanges with some of the speakers who were against the bill—including Jackson—and challenged them to bring more evidence to support their points.

Garrett asked Jackson if he knew of any injuries from incidents he mentioned in Chicago and multiple in Texas where an SRO or armed staff members, respectively, misplaced their guns which were later found by students. 

“I mean if you’re going to throw out stuff like that—you’re implying that people were injured because police officers left his gun behind or because somebody else left their gun in a drawer or something like that,” Garrett said. “I’d like to know if there were injuries.”

“I’d be happy to find some of those and send those to you senator,” Jackson responded. “Again, I would point out the fact that these are even getting in the hands of students—which is fundamentally wrong—we shouldn’t be putting firearms in the hands of people under 18, so I’d really focus on that as well.”

  • Ty Rushing

    Ty Rushing is the Chief Political Correspondent for Iowa Starting Line. He is a trail-blazing veteran Iowa journalist, an Emmy-nominated filmmaker, and co-founder and president of the Iowa Association of Black Journalists. Send tips or story ideas to [email protected] and find him on social media @Rushthewriter.

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