Students Rally at Iowa State Capitol, Demanding Stronger Gun Laws After Fatal School Shooting

DES MOINES, Iowa — The halls of the Iowa State Capitol Building echoed with chants on Monday as hundreds of high school students from across the state gathered in the rotunda to demand stronger gun laws. This protest came just days after a fatal shooting that took place in Perry, Iowa, on January 4th, resulting in the death of sixth-grader Ahmir Jolliff and the injury of five others, including Perry High School Principal Dan Marburger.

The students, representing approximately 12 to 15 high schools in Des Moines, held signs with messages such as “Are we next?” and “Your inaction is killing us.” They were joined by members of the organization March for Our Lives Iowa, who presented Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds with a letter calling for gun violence prevention laws at the start of Iowa’s 2024 legislative session.

Trey Jackson, legislative director for March for Our Lives Iowa, expressed his frustration with lawmakers offering “thoughts and prayers” instead of enacting real policy changes. He urged them to commit to meaningful reform.

In 2023, Iowa House Republicans introduced and passed a bill that would have allowed guns in school parking lots and implemented a firearm safety program in Iowa schools. Additionally, Iowa voters ratified an amendment to the state’s constitution in 2022, requiring laws that impose restrictions on gun rights to be reviewed using strict scrutiny in court challenges.

Students from Iowa City also participated in the walkout and protest. Around 150 students from all three public high schools in Iowa City marched to the Old Capitol Building, braving freezing temperatures to voice their concerns about recent gun violence. Chants such as “Protect the kids, not guns” and “Hey hey, NRA, how many kids have you killed today” filled the air.

Democratic legislators, including Iowa Senate Democrats leader Pam Jochum and Iowa Sen. Claire Celsi, joined the protesters in the rotunda. They pledged to advocate for gun law reforms and promised to introduce concrete legislation during the session. Jochum emphasized that gun violence and child safety are not partisan issues and encouraged the students to use their voices and their votes to make a difference.

In conclusion, hundreds of Iowa high school students across the state gathered at the Iowa State Capitol Building to demand stronger gun laws following a recent fatal school shooting in Perry, Iowa. They were joined by members of March for Our Lives Iowa and Democratic legislators, who pledged to push for gun law reforms. The students’ protests and voices aim to create lasting change and ensure the safety of themselves and future generations.