Davenport, Iowa – In response to a recent shooting in Perry, Iowa, Iowa House Representative Ken Croken, a Democrat from Davenport, organized a forum at Davenport West High School. The forum brought together lawmakers, parents, and educators to discuss “common sense” gun laws and school safety. The attendees included State Senator Cindy Winckler, a Democrat from Davenport, as well as Trey Jackson, the legislative affairs director for March for Our Lives, Ben Layer, the crisis prevention coordinator for the Mississippi Bend Area Education Agency, and Kaleigh Rogers, the director of the local advocacy group “Moms Demand Action”.
During the forum, participants engaged in a discussion about various gun violence prevention measures, with a particular focus on the implementation of red-flag laws, also known as extreme risk protection orders. Red-flag laws allow for the temporary removal of firearms from individuals who are believed to pose a risk to themselves or others. Iowa is one of 31 states that currently do not have such a law in place.
In contrast, Illinois has a red-flag law that went into effect in 2019. However, a recent report from the Center for Gun Violence Solution at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has recommended improvements in the implementation of emergency orders as part of broader efforts to reduce gun violence in the state.
Although then Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller called on the state legislature to support a red-flag law in 2022, it failed to pass. Organizations like Everytown for Gun Safety argue that extreme risk laws can help protect public safety by allowing key community members to intervene before warning signs of violence escalate. However, critics, including the NRA Institute for Legislative Action, argue that such laws violate due process safeguards.
Under current federal law, individuals can only be prohibited from owning firearms if they fall into specific categories. This means that individuals who display warning signs of violence but do not meet the criteria for firearm restrictions can still legally purchase and possess guns.
In June 2022, 29 Republicans joined with Democrats to pass a federal gun safety law. However, Iowa’s two U.S. senators, Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley, disagreed on their votes. Ernst joined 14 other Republican senators in voting in favor of the measure, known as the Safer Communities Act.
Recent incidents, including a shooting outside East High School in Des Moines and a fatal shooting in Ames, have prompted Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds to take action. The governor has pledged up to $50,000 per school to address security vulnerabilities. Nevertheless, according to the Associated Press, most schools in the state, including Perry, have yet to receive funding.
In conclusion, the forum organized by Ken Croken provided a platform for dialogue on gun laws and school safety in Iowa. While the discussion included support for red-flag laws as a means to prevent gun violence, there is also opposition based on concerns about due process. The recent federal gun safety law and Governor Reynolds’ funding initiatives demonstrate the ongoing efforts to address these issues and ensure safer communities in Iowa.