‘No silver bullet’ to prevent school violence, according to Iowa House Republican newsletter

Illustration by Jordan Sellergren.

The official weekly news update of the Iowa House Republican caucus addressed violence in schools in a strange and tasteless way last week, concluding: “Clearly there is no so-called ‘silver bullet’ for the school bullying and violence situations.” The Capitol Report published that the day after the one month anniversary of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

The section of the Capitol Report on school violence started by criticizing “the talk about school security these past few weeks” for “leav[ing] students out of the solution,’ noting students “have tried to find a voice” and staged walk-outs since the Parkland shooting. The Capitol Report then thoroughly ignored what students have been saying loudly for the last month.

North Liberty High School and Middle School students protest gun violence in schools at the corner of Forevergreen road and Highway 965. Friday, March 2, 2018. — photo by Zak Neumann

High school and junior high school students who have walked out of class in protest have been very clear about what they want: gun control and political leaders who reject the influence of the National Rifle Association. The Capitol Report didn’t mention either of those student demands. Instead, it turned to anti-bullying efforts.

The Capitol Report commended the inaction of legislature on the issue of school violence. The legislature hasn’t passed any bill addressing violence in schools since 2008, but that’s good, according to the Capitol Report because “Top-down directives from bureaucrats aren’t solving the issue.” Responsibility for addressing is passed from adult political leaders to school kids: “Part of this was because some legislators felt, and heard from students, that it was time for students to take on the issue in their schools.” It then cited a program that encourages students to intervene when they see an instance of bullying.

Barbara Rodriguez, who covers the Iowa statehouse for the Associated Press, pointed out the “silver bullet” metaphor in a tweet on Friday.

She also tweeted:

That seems correct as far as the Republican response on gun control following the mass shooting in Florida. The day after the shooting, Sen. Brad Zaun withdrew a bill that would have entirely eliminated gun permits. No member of the Republican majority in either house of the legislature has introduced a bill strengthening gun control laws.

At her first press conference following the Florida shooting, Gov. Kim Reynolds didn’t push for any legislative action on guns. After describing herself as “a proud Second Amendment supporter,” Reynolds said the federal government should take some unspecified on background checks. The governor also called on “parents and students, school faculty and staff and members of the community to be especially vigilant for signs of potential violence.”

Reynolds has also ordered the heads of several state agencies to conduct a review of school safety plans and procedures. As The Gazette noted, “The governor gave the directors [of the review] no hard deadlines or specific actions to take, but they feel a sense of urgency.”

In recent weeks, President Trump has been pushing the idea of having teachers or other school employees carry guns to discourage school shootings. That has been possible under Iowa law since 2011. People are allowed to carry guns on school property with the permission of the school district. The Iowa Department of Education and Iowa School Board Association told WHO-TV that no school districts currently permit teachers to carry guns on campus.