In an effort to keep Iowa colleges safe, Sen. Jake Chapman, R-Adel, introduced a bill to the Iowa Senate that would allow firearms on campuses.
The bill was first proposed as a Senate joint resolution when the Senate convened Jan. 9, before being formally introduced nearly two weeks later.
The bill, which would be an added amendment to the Iowa Constitution, states that Iowans on college campuses should retain the right “to acquire, keep, possess, transport, carry, transfer, and use arms to defend life and liberty and for all other legitimate purposes.”
The bill also would override Iowa State’s current firearm policies. As noted in the Policy Library and last revised in 2008 under the Board of Regents, Iowa State decreed that “the possession or use of weapons is prohibited on campus and in the course of university-related activities.”
Furthermore, Iowa State defines weapons as “any pistol, revolver, shotgun, machine gun, rifle or other firearm, BB or pellet gun, Taser or stun gun, bomb, grenade, mine or other explosive or incendiary device, ammunition, archery equipment, dagger, stiletto, switchblade knife, or knife having a blade exceeding five inches in length.”
If passed, the bill would derail Iowa State and other Iowa public institutions from implementing and enforcing their current firearm policies.
Chapman, however, believes the bill will ensure that students maintain an extra sense of security when faced with a threat.
“This isn’t a new concept,” the senator said in an interview with The Gazette. “It takes a good guy with a firearm to stop a bad guy with a firearm, and unfortunately that’s the reality we live in today.”
The state of Iowa is not alone in the realm of open-carry legislation. Similar versions of the bill have appeared in numerous states throughout the country. In the last seven years, Kansas, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Wisconsin, Mississippi and Colorado have passed laws allowing firearms into public institutions.
The University of Texas regents also made headlines last year when the organization became the latest to allow “campus carry” laws.
But many Iowa students worry about ramifications the bill could have on university campuses.
Cole Staudt, Student Government president, said the majority of Iowa State students do not support open-carry legislation in schools and "that proponents of campus carry make up a small but vocal portion of the university community.”
Rachel Zuckerman, University of Iowa’s Student Government president, reflected on a deeper issue concerning guns on university campuses that students would need to confront.
“This would, without a doubt, make our campuses unsafe," she said. "The University of Iowa has had a mass shooting before. We know firsthand the devastating effects of guns on campus.”
Last year marked the 25th anniversary of the mass shooting at the University of Iowa committed by a disgruntled student working toward a doctorate, Gang Lu, in 1991.
Since the mass shooting, Iowa State and the Ames Police Department have implemented a threat assessment team in case of emergencies.
If the bill is enacted into law and more guns become present on campus, the functionality of the threat assessment could be threatened as it relies on the ability “to identify individuals of concern, investigate individuals and situations that have come to attention of others, and assess the information gathered.”
The introduced bill has since been referred to the Judiciary Committee, where it will be properly evaluated.