Late last Wednesday, just three days before millions of Americans marched to end gun violence, the Republican-controlled Iowa Legislature gave a dangerous gun gift to the NRA. While youth across America are demanding legislators pass greater gun safety measures, Iowa Republicans are passing dangerous bills that create additional barriers to prevent future gun safety legislation. With all the other horrible Republican sponsored legislation last week, this extreme gun promotion amendment flew under the radar.
Under the management of Senator Brad Zaun, the Iowa Senate quietly approved the first step in amending the Iowa Constitution by adding NRA-endorsed wording to expand gun access. The Iowa Republicans’ addition to the Iowa Constitution will add Second Amendment language as well as these two crucial words, “strict scrutiny.” The NRA’s approved amendment should be called a state “Super Second Amendment.”
“This joint resolution proposes an amendment to the Constitution of the State of Iowa providing: 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 Iowa Republicans’ constitutional amendment language is taken directly from the NRA playbook. The addition of the words “strict scrutiny” to the Second Amendment is intended to give gun owners even greater power to resist any gun safety measures. Adding strict scrutiny elevates Iowa gun ownership, possession and use to an especially high level, higher than the standards imposed by Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
“The NRA strongly endorses the adoption of ‘strict scrutiny’ for state constitutional rights to arms,” NRA Executive Director Chris Cox said. “These measures ‘build an iron wall’ around your freedoms and protect them from antigun officials and activist judges.”
When this bill was first introduced by Iowa Republicans in January, the NRA boasted that this would make it much more difficult for future Iowa legislators to pass even modest gun safety measures.
“Should the introduced language eventually be adopted, the Hawkeye State would become the fourth – behind Louisiana, Missouri and Alabama to explicitly designate “strict scrutiny” as the required judicial standard for adjudicating restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms. This change would rocket Iowa from one of the few states without any constitutional right to arms into an elite group that provides the strongest possible protection for the most fundamental of civil rights.”
The NRA describes strict scrutiny amendments as the “Iron Plating for the right to keep and bear arms…while the U.S. Constitution sets a ‘floor’ on certain individual liberties, states can exceed that floor with additional protections of their own.”
The Republicans’ extreme gun amendment raises the bar for any future gun safety legislation to meet. It’s another example of an Iowa Republican Party held hostage to the dictates of the NRA. They are unwilling to deviate from the NRA playbook or the money the NRA lavishes on their campaigns. The NRA money pay trail can be traced from state legislators to the U.S. Congress and the Senate. Both Congressman Young and Senator Ernst are top beneficiaries of NRA funding.
Iowa Democratic Senators, led by Senator Tony Bisignano attempted to reach a compromise by agreeing to add the exact wording of the federal Second Amendment, but Republicans voted it down and added the NRA endorsed strict scrutiny language.
The good news is that a constitutional amendment requires the legislature to pass identical legislation again next year and then it must be approved by the public.
Just one more reason for Democrats to retake control of Iowa State government.
by Rick Smith