CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) — Giving teachers guns is a controversial idea, but it’s something President Trump and Governor Reynolds say deserves consideration. And while education groups largely oppose arming teachers, others believe gun-free zones are easy targets.
Iowa Code section 724.4B prohibits firearms on school grounds, with some exceptions. One of those exemptions has received so much public scrutiny recently that in March the Department of Education issued an updated explainer on its website. The issue has received interest since the Parkland, Florida shooting on Valentine’s Day that killed 17 people. The exemption reads in part, “A person who has been specifically authorized by the school to go armed with, carry or transport a firearm on the school grounds…” Although Iowa law gives schools the authority to allow a teacher, or other person, to carry a gun on campus, we couldn’t find any that actually allow it. Police officers are already exempt.
Three educators in eastern Iowa agreed to experience intense computer-generated simulations armed with a Glock 17 handgun. The simulations happened inside Midwest Shooting in Hiawatha. Instead of ammunition, the guns used a CO2 converter and interacted with the screen so the teachers could tell where their shots landed. The scenarios varied from a mass shooter shooting students in a library to a teenager with a knife fighting with his girlfriend in a hallway. Each time the teachers had to decide when to shoot, if at all.
“I don’t know if I’d react differently if I didn’t have that. I would have gotten help, gotten other teachers involved,” said Marty, who’s been teaching eighth graders for 33 years.
Marty supports allowing trained, willing teachers to have guns at school. He said he’d give thought to being armed himself but would want extensive training first.
“Just as a deterrent, to let it be known that there could be teachers with a gun,” Marty said.
Two other teachers said these graphic simulations reinforce their feelings that teachers should not be armed.
“I would oppose it because it takes specialized training. Today alone is a reminder of how much training that takes,” said Dan, a teacher in the TV-9 viewing area.
Another educator, Eli, successfully killed a student who was indiscriminately firing an AR-15 style rifle. She was the only educator to successfully halt the massacre before everyone in the scene was killed.
“Initially I’m like, yes, I got her. And afterwards, I’m like I just shot a kid. That doesn’t feel good. Even though it was just a simulation I felt guilty for shooting her,” said Eli.
Reporter’s Note: KCRG-TV9 is not using the last names or identifying where these educators work at the request of their employers.