DES MOINES, Iowa — Some people who work at the Iowa Capitol have been offered training on how to respond to an armed attack on the premises, a move that comes after a law took effect allowing concealed handguns in the building.
Legislative employees who work for the House and Senate have been invited to attend a roughly two-hour training class in early September at a nearby state building in Des Moines. Staffers at the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency, which reviews proposed policy and is housed at the Capitol, have also been invited. An agency spokesman said some of those employees have already received such training.
Staff members for Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds, who also work in the building, got the training in July, according to press secretary Brenna Smith.
A document distributed to legislative staff ahead of the training reads, “The participant will learn strategies for identifying and handling concerning behavior in colleagues as well as response options to increase survivability of active armed encounters.” It was developed by the Iowa Department of Public Safety, which will lead the voluntary training for free with a handful of law enforcement officials.
Staff leaders for both Republican-controlled chambers requested the training about a month ago, though discussion has been ongoing for months, according to Ed Failor, a Senate Republican spokesman. He said the new law that allows concealed handguns inside the Capitol is not the motivation for the training.
“There’s no downside in people being prepared,” he said, noting shootings around the country.
Capt. Mark Logsdon, who oversees security at the Capitol, said the training will teach employees how to respond within their workspace during a shooting or other potentially violent situation. He agreed that the gun law wasn’t the impetus for the training but acknowledged it had become part of the conversation.
“I think if nothing else, it might have maybe spurred people to say, ‘Hey, you know what? We live in a whole different age. We need to do what we can to make sure that we safeguard ourselves,'” he said.
Logsdon pointed out that other state employees in nearby buildings have received similar active shooter training in recent months. He said state lawmakers and their clerks, both of whom work at the Capitol during the first few months of the year, are not expected to receive the training for now.
Smith, from Reynolds’ office, reiterated that such training is routine for state government employees whose departments request it. She said in an email that Reynolds’ staff received the training after an employee recommended it, noting, “the employee thought it would be valuable for the governor’s office as a number of employees are new, and we wanted everyone to be on the same page.”
The gun law, which took effect July 1, allows U.S. residents with valid weapons permits to bring a concealed handgun into the Iowa Capitol. Visitors enter through metal detectors at the building’s two basement entrances, which are staffed by unarmed security guards. Armed state troopers also staff the Capitol and building grounds at different times, though their locations and hours aren’t disclosed.