Students in some Iowa schools walked out of classes this morning to join a national protest on the 19th anniversary of a school shooting in Colorado. Thirteen students were killed and 24 were injured by the two gunmen at Columbine High School on April 20th, 1999 — before today’s high school seniors were born.
Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds said there is “no one single answer” to school safety.
“We’ll continue to bring all of the agencies together, school boards, administrators — people we need to have at the table to talk about how we can make sure that when we drop off our children at school that they’re safe and they’re able to learn in a safe environment,” Reynolds told reporters Thursday.
Reynolds, a Republican, said the Republican-led legislature has already passed a bill that requires all Iowa school districts to have a safety plan and conduct yearly active shooter drills. As for new gun regulations, Reynolds is opposed. She said the priority should be enforcing the laws already on the books and updating the existing federal background check system.
Senate President Charles Schneider, a Republican from West Des Moines, said the Iowa legislature is setting aside $35 million in grant money to help schools pay for safety upgrades to buildings, like lock down systems or stronger classroom doors. But Schneider, like the governor, suggested new gun regulations are not on this year’s agenda.
“We always have to take into consideration the balance of school safety and the balance of constitutional rights as well,” Schneider told reporters this morning.
Senator Janet Petersen of Des Moines, the Democratic leader in the senate, attended a local school walk-out as well as a student-led rally at the statehouse late this morning.
“I think it’s an important time in our country as we see kids getting more civically engaged, so it’s exciting to see,” Petersen said this morning. “…All Iowans want to make sure that our kids are safe in our schools and so it’s time to listen to what our kids have to say.”
Students involved in today’s protests are calling for gun law changes.