House votes to create school safety grant program

DES MOINES — The Iowa House has approved a bill that sets up a state school safety grant program and, if a companion bill becomes law, it could provide extra pay to school staff who get a professional permit to carry a gun on school grounds.

Representative Carter Nordman of Adel says it’s part of House Republicans’ response to the fatal shooting at Perry High School in January. “This bill will make our students safer by investing in infrastructure and technology that we know will make our school buildings more secure. It will make our students safer by requiring school districts to prioritize safety before they prioritize flashy sports facilities,” Nordman says. “Democrats would pass restrictive gun laws, but none of the gun control bills that we’ve heard from Democrats would have prevented what happened in Perry, Des Moines East, Parkersburg or Starts Right Here.” That’s a list of shootings in school facilities in Iowa.

Democrats say the grants in this bill could be used to buy guns if school boards get authority to let employees be armed at school. Representative Ross Wilburn, a Democrat from Ames, says the bill’s a disappointment. “It’s important to point out that we all are in favor of keeping our schools safe, of keeping our communities safe,” Wilburn said. “We differ about how to go about doing that.”

Another Democrat said the legislature should be making it harder for a would-be school shooter to get a gun rather than making it easier to have more guns in schools.