A teacher has a few questions about Iowa lawmakers’ proposal to arm school employees

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(Photo illustration by Iowa Capital Dispatch with images via Canva) | (Ilustración fotográfica de Iowa Capital Dispatch con imágenes vía Canva)
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By Daniel P. Finney, Iowa Capital Dispatch

Our great and glorious leaders in the Iowa House of Representatives have advanced a bill allowing the arming of school district employees.

House Study Bill 675 passed a legislative deadline last week and may get consideration from the full House. (The new number is House File 2586.)

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To be clear, the proposal for arming school employees would be voluntary — as would any security or police presence.

Still, as a public school teacher, I have questions.

The bill seeks to authorize “school employees to be issued professional permits to carry weapons.”

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“School employees” covers a lot of people. Are we talking about just a highly trained special missions security team? Or are we talking about everyone including teachers, administrators, food services staff, and maintenance personnel?

We probably should arm the librarians first. They’ve got nothing else to do now that we’ve banned all the bad books.

We should also issue the librarians silencers. We know how they hate loud noises.

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The bill also would pay districts “to employ or retain school security personnel.”

My school district already has school security, many of whom are ex-police officers. They are unarmed.

The district used to have police officers specially trained to work in schools.

However, some students had historically poor experiences with police and didn’t feel safe with officers on campus.

My district ended its school resource officer program.

Our glorious leader who descended from heaven, Gov. Kim Reynolds, does not seem to like it when public schools listen to the concerns of people who have historically been pushed aside or otherwise oppressed by society.

Thus, we are back to having armed people in schools.

Terrific.

Arm everyone, I say.

Science fiction writer Robert Heinlein once said, “An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life.”

This is true.

The United States has the highest gun ownership rate in the world with 120.5 firearms per 100 people.

And all one needs to do to see how polite we are is to look at our politicized cable TV news, podcasts, and social media.

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Ms. Manners would swoon at how we communicate with each other.

“Weapons” also is a broad term.

Does this mean swords, knives, throwing stars, and nun chucks?

Or are we just talking about guns?

It feels like we’re always talking about guns.

Are we talking about handguns, shotguns, long guns, America’s favorite, the AR-15, or some combination of them all?

How many guns can a school employee carry? Just a sidearm? An ankle piece? Maybe a shotgun over the shoulder? Or one of each just to be sure?

Will my school district buy my gun, or will the cost come out of my pocket?

The Legislature hasn’t passed its school funding bill yet, so I’d probably be on the hook for it.

If I’m paying for it, can I at least get a tax deduction for the weapon and ammunition?

And on the point of ammunition, what caliber are we allowing district employees — .22 LR, .380 ACP, .9mm, .38 SPL, or .357 MAG?

Full metal jackets? Hollow points? Armor-piercing?

How many boxes of ammunition should I have in my desk drawer?

And as for my desk, is that where I keep the gun while I’m teaching, or will I need a whole holster and belt setup?

Will specially designated lockers in the hallways with combination locks be secure enough to hold employee guns or should we have designated gun safes in every classroom?

What level of proficiency with a firearm must school employees demonstrate to be able to carry one?

Will districts be allowed to use their state-required professional development days for time at the shooting range?

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And here are a couple of trickier questions:

If an armed school district employee shoots at an armed intruder and misses but hits a student, teacher, or other school staff, are they indemnified against prosecution?

What if the armed school district employee thinks a person is armed and shoots and wounds or kills that person, but it turns out the person was only carrying a hairbrush or getting out their wallet? Are they indemnified, then?

Finally, how will police, sheriff’s deputies, and state troopers tell the difference between designated school employees with guns and an actual shooter in schools?

I’m not worried about that. I won’t be buying a gun to serve my students. If the dark day ever comes that I need to confront this terror, you’ll find me leading my students out of the building and away from the guns, no matter who has them.

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