Iowa Students March to State Capitol to Demand Stricter Gun Laws

The students walked out of school Monday to demand stronger gun violence prevention laws following the fatal shooting at Perry High School.

Iowa Students March to State Capitol to Demand Stricter Gun Laws

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DES MOINES — Hundreds of Iowa students walked out of class Monday and marched to the State Capitol to call on lawmakers to strengthen gun laws.

As part of the March for Our Lives movement, a student-led organization formed following the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, students from approximately 12 to 15 Iowa high schools filled the Capitol’s rotunda on the opening day of the state’s 2024 legislative session, the Daily Iowan reports.

The group presented Governor Kim Reynolds with a letter outlining their demands for gun violence prevention laws just four days after the fatal Jan. 4 shooting at Perry High School. The shooter, a 17-year-old student at the school, killed 11-year-old Ahmir Jolliff and injured five others, including Principal Dan Marburger.

The teens made speeches and chanted statements such as “Protect the kids, not guns” and “Hey hey, NRA, how many kids have you killed today?” They also held homemade signs that read, “Your inaction is killing us,” “Thoughts and prayers do not stop bullets,” and “Are we next?”

Akshara Eswar, Iowa March for Our Lives co-director and a junior at Johnston High School, said history has shown that protests and peaceful movements can create change.

“We need to talk about this every single day until change happens,” Eswar said. “So today I’m empowered. But until today, I was very upset, heartbroken, nervous, all of the things you can imagine.”

Hannah Hayes, a senior at Roosevelt High School, and Juan Rosado, a junior at City High, said taking away all guns is not the answer but restricting who can own guns is the first step.

“We don’t want to abolish the Second Amendment. We do not want a place where no one can have any sort of self-defense,” Rosado told KWWL. “What we want is, for instance, where 17-year-old [Perry High School shooter] who had a shotgun, we want that to be prevented.”

“We need to provide more mental health resources, but also if people are the problem and not guns, then we need to be restricting the people who can have guns,” Hayes added.

Democratic legislators showed their support during the demonstration, pledging to advocate for gun law reforms. Iowa Senate Democrats leader Pam Jochum said gun violence and keeping children safe should not be bipartisan issues and encouraged the protesters to continue to use their voices and to vote, according to the Daily Iowan.

Senator Claire Celsi urged students to call their state lawmakers to enact change.

“You can’t just say this is what I want,” she said. “You have to say this is how we’re going to get there. The young people of Iowa have spoken and we’re going to demand that they pass these bills.”

On Monday afternoon, Governor Reynolds announced she signed a disaster proclamation to provide state assistance to Dallas County and the Perry community as it continues to recover from the shooting.

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Amy is Campus Safety’s Executive Editor. Prior to joining the editorial team in 2017, she worked in both events and digital marketing.

Amy has many close relatives and friends who are teachers, motivating her to learn and share as much as she can about campus security. She has a minor in education and has worked with children in several capacities, further deepening her passion for keeping students safe.

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