Iowa is one of only six states that does not have a state constitutional provision that protects the right to keep and bear arms in some way. The other five states without such a provision are California, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, and New York. The two outliers on that list are Iowa and Minnesota. Both states have strong Second Amendment activist organizations.
An Iowa legislator is attempting to remedy the lack of the constitutional protection. One of the reasons Iowa does not have such a protection in its constitution, is the process to enact constitutional amendment is extremely difficult. The resolution for the constitutional amendment has to pass the legislature, then an election must happen, then it must pass the legislature again. It will then be sent to the people as a referendum. If the people vote for it, it will become part of the Iowa Constitution. Here is the proposed amendment. From iowa.gov:
Right to acquire, keep, possess, transport, carry, transfer, and use arms.
“SEC. 1A. The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. The sovereign state of Iowa affirms and recognizes the fundamental right of the people to acquire, keep, possess, transport, carry, transfer, and use arms for all legitimate purposes. Any and all restrictions of this right shall be subject to strict scrutiny.”
The Republican leadership failed to allow the amendment to come to a vote in 2017. These amendments are immensely popular. The difficult part of the process is to bring the amendment to a vote.. If the Republican leadership opposes the amendment, it dies. In 2018, the Matt Windsciti laid out the case for the amendment. From iowapublicradio.org:
Rep. Matt Windschitl (R-Missouri Valley) said the amendment backs up second amendment rights already secured by the U.S. Constitution
“It spells it out very clearly and concisely so that there is no question about what our Second Amendment rights are,” Windschitl said, “and that if they are to be regulated the regulations will be held to a very high level of scrutiny by our judicial system.”
If the Republican leadership allows this to come to the floor for a vote, it will pass. The Republicans in Iowa hold majorities in both houses of the Iowa Legislature for the first time in 20 years. If they lose control of either house to the Democrats, it will not be brought up for a vote. The amendment passed the first Sub-Committee vote on Thursday, 25 January, 2018.
If the amendment is brought up again in 2019, it will pass. If the amendment is offered to the public, it will pass. The same process played out in Wisconsin 20 years ago in 1998. The amendment passed with 72% of the vote.
No right to bear arms Constitutional Amendment referendum has been defeated at the polls. Voters have passed similar constitutional amendments in other states with wide margins. Alabama passed a similar amendment in 2014 with 72% of the vote; Missouri had strengthened its Constitution just months before with 61%; Louisiana in 2012 with 74% of the vote; and Kansas in 2010 with 88%.
The Iowa State Seal says “OUR LIBERTIES WE PRIZE AND OUR RIGHTS WE WILL MAINTAIN.” Now is the time for Iowans to live up to their slogan.
Will Iowans be successful in passing a constitutional amendment? Share your answer in the comment section.
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©2018 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.