State Sen.-elect Mark Segebart
State Sen.-elect Mark Segebart
State Sen.-elect Mark Segebart, R-Vail, says school principals, superintendents or other administrators should be armed with guns to protect the children and teachers in their systems from criminals.

In an interview with The Daily Times Herald, Segebart, who will represent Carroll, Sac, Audubon, Buena Vista and part of Crawford County in the Legislature, said the school shooting two weeks ago in Connecticut drives home a point he made after the Aurora, Colo., theater massacre this summer: more guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens is the solution.

“I think this reinforces the fact that at least certain administrators or designated people at any school system, it may come to the point where they need to be armed,” Segebart said. “I think we’re at that point.”

Segebart said he has had several people tell him that some existing school employees should be trained and qualified to carry guns. He thinks teachers should be in the mix of weapons-carriers as well.

He suggested school officials be armed with standard-issue, law-enforcement weapons in the “small-arms category.”

“In this case they would be able to stand up and at least slow the process down from the perpetrator,” Segebart said.

Segebart said he doesn’t plan on introducing legislation associated with his idea right away. But he will discuss it with the Iowa Senate Republican Caucus.

“I’m sure it will come up,” he said. “It’s unavoidable. This is such a major issue. It’s not going to be ignored.”

Segebart dismissed any concerns about possibly ramping up the body count or accidental shootings if school officials are armed and introduce crossfire into mayhem, or accidentally shoot students as a result of  misinterpreting situations.

“I don’t that that’s an issue, actually,” Segebart said. “Given the alternative of doing nothing, doing something’s always a better alternative if you’re faced with that sort of a problem.”

Any officials armed with guns in the schools should be trained as rigorously as the police and have access to local firing ranges to hone their skills. But Segebart said he wouldn’t support hiring specialists, guards whose sole purpose is to protect the school.

“No, I wouldn’t go to a guard,” Segebart said. “It would be one of the regular administrators. It would take a special person. You couldn’t ask just anybody to do this.”
Segebart said he doesn’t want to see any more restrictions on firearms and ammunition sales in Iowa.

“It was the person that did the murdering here, not the weapon,” Segebart said. “You take the person out of this equation, this doesn’t happen. If you take the gun out of the equation it doesn’t happen but it still could happen if the person was that motivated to do it in the first place. It could have been any kind of a weapon that could have caused that problem.”

Segebart said he sees no difference between the Bushmaster AR-15 used in the Newtown, Conn., shooting, and a semi-automatic pistol from a policy standpoint.
“You have to pull the trigger once to fire a shell,” he said. “The assault weapons they’re talking about are just like that. It’s not a machine gun where you pull the trigger and it just keeps shooting by pulling the trigger. That’s not what these weapons are, so to say that these were assault weapons — they look like assault weapons but they’re no different than any semi-automatic weapon.”

In terms of limiting ammunition purchases, the size of clips or magazines, Segebart said he would “rather not.”

“Again, law-abiding citizens don’t have a problem with it,” Segebart said.

Segebart said the purpose the Second Amendment is to empower Americans to protect themselves from tyranny.

“It’s really why we have a Second Amendment,” Segebart said. “It wasn’t about hunting at all.”

Segebart said he could see scenarios unfold in which a free government loses control.
“You know, we’re only a day or two away in any disaster from having total anarchy,” Segebart said. “Things could go bad in a hurry. We’ve seen that with hurricanes and those types of situations. Any kind of large disaster or power outage could cause the world to turn upside-down pretty quickly.”

There are other concerns at work with school violence, he said.

Segebart said he believes violent video games are part of the problem with school shootings.

“I’ve never seen one,” he said. “I don’t plan on buying one anytime soon.”

Segebart said he is aware of age guidelines for play of the games. But that’s not enough, as young people can “get very addicted” to video games, he said.

“Can the Legislature for something about that?” Segebart said. “I certainly think we could. I’m all about freedom and business and all that, but again, what are we teaching our kids?”

Segebart said he would like to see bigger labels and better ratings on the games so parents know what their children are playing.

“Maybe you make it that they can only be purchased by adults,” Segebart said.
Segebart said state commerce officials and business-related committees in the Legislature should eye such plans.

A veteran Crawford County supervisor, Segebart has been appointed to the Senate Human Resources Committee and attended meetings on mental-health redesign.

“I certainly think this young man, people were aware of it, and you know, he could have received services, I think, from the mental-health system that could have maybe prevented all that,” Segebart said.

Bottom line, Segebart said, there should be more funding for mental health in Iowa.
“I don’t see how it’s avoidable, actually,” Segebart said.