State lawmakers are considering a change that would arm some state troopers with more rapid-fire weapons. Senator Tom Hancock, a Democrat from Epworth, backs the change. "One of our local troopers made me aware of the issue where they’re just allowed to carry shotguns," Hancock says. "In today’s environment, unfortunately, most of the bad guys and the crooks are carrying high-powered rifles and that type of thing."
A proposed pilot project would let some troopers carry semi-automatic rifles. Iowa’s sheriffs and their deputies carry semi-automatic rifles. But troopers have not since a trooper used one against a suspect in western Iowa in 1994. A pilot project to allow troopers to voluntarily carry the rifles is now part of a justice system budget bill making its way through the legislature.
"I just don’t think it’s fair that our public safety officials, those folks that are out there on a daily basis and put their lives on the line and protect us and keep us safe — they should have the same equipment that the crooks and the bad guys have," Hancock says. Under the proposal, 34 troopers will be certified and armed with the semi-automatic weapons.