Posted by 19 November 2018
Should the Iowa constitution protect the right to bear arms?
That is the question facing legislators as they gear up for the 2019 legislative session. There is a move to enshrine the right to bear arms in the state’s constitution, but some legislators are wary.
To amend the state constitution, Iowa legislators must approve amendments in two separate sessions and then the voters must vote in favor. Last year, both houses of the legislature approved a resolution that would add this language to the constitution:
The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. The sovereign state of Iowa affirms and recognizes this right to be a fundamental individual right. Any and all restrictions of this right shall be subject to strict scrutiny.
The vote was 34-15 in the house and 54-42 in the senate.
With new legislators being elected in November, these vote totals will certainly change. However, Republicans retained control of both chambers, so efforts to pass the amendment a second time will likely succeed. If that happens, the proposed amendment will be on the Iowa ballot in 2020.
Supporters of amending the constitution argue that the right to bear arms is a fundamental right that should be protected from infringement by lawmakers. They say that putting this language in the state constitution will ensure that state residents will be protected from future efforts to strip them of their gun rights. Opponents counter that this amendment would prevent common sense gun safety legislation. They say that this is the wrong direction for Iowa to be taking given recent mass shootings.
The legislature convenes on January 14.
Do you think that Iowa and other states should add constitutional protections for the right to bear arms?