Gun Violence and Shootings in Iowa City

After my post about armored vehicles last week, I received an email from an Iowa City resident, whom I respect, that sent some information about gun violence, including links to a couple of articles. I thought I’d share my response regarding gun violence and the shootings we’ve had in Iowa City for the benefit of the overall discussion. I’ll post more later this week to answer additional questions that have been raised in response to my post, particularly providing examples of why it’s an important tool.

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My response:


Thanks for taking the time to pass along this info and your thoughts. I assume this is in response to my post regarding the possession and use of an armored vehicle. I think we agree on more than you think. As I wrote in my post, I absolutely believe we should have strict guidelines on the use of such equipment and oversight afterward to assure they are followed. I also expressed my concern about the over militarization of police. In fact, I see replacing the MRAP with a BearCat as a step toward that goal. We would be removing a vehicle designed primarily for military applications and replacing with one that is designed primarily for civilian law enforcement.


I am not supportive of having no tool available that can withstand gunfire. I’m not willing to go that far given the potential incidents that it would be, and has been, invaluable in responding to. That seems to be where we disagree, and I expressed why in my post. You and I agree that prevention is paramount, and I believe we can do so while also being prepared for dangerous situations. I don’t see it as a binary choice.


The first link you shared speaks to gun violence by specifically by police. This is certainly a national issue and conversation we are, and should be, having. In Iowa City however, we are seeing gun violence, but not by police. Other than a few animal control situations, ICPD officers have not fired a round in the line of duty since 2019. There were two non-fatal injuries as a result. It had been several years before that to the last rounds fired by ICPD. In the meantime, data from the ICPD show 15 shots fired calls in 2019 with 56 rounds fired, 5 people hit and no homicides. In 2020 they had 57 shots fired calls with 304 rounds fired, 11 people hit and 2 homicides. Through July 2021 (7 months) there have been 23 shots fired calls with 159 rounds and 11 people hit including 3 homicides. We need to talk about prevention of these incidents, and we are not having it at the city council level. These are not police shootings, these are our fellow Iowa City residents and neighbors that are increasingly using guns in disputes.


The second link you shared speaks to the trauma and cycle of gun violence. I agree there as well. That’s why a post I wrote a week earlier called for more attention on the increase in shootings in Iowa City. That is an issue that requires all parts of the community to engage, not just (and perhaps not even primarily) law enforcement. I clearly stated that the conversation around shootings should take priority over a vehicle that is used rarely. Yet, the vehicle continues to dominate our time and discourse. That was underscored when my post on the vehicle received far more attention than the one on shootings. I am concerned how equipment can lead to escalation, but if you’re arguing that the absence of an armored vehicle in law enforcement inventory will lead to a reduction in what we’re seeing in Iowa City, I think that’s a stretch.


Yes, let’s get to work on prevention. What other actions do you believe we can take at the city level that will lead to a reduction in gun violence? I welcome the continued conversation.


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