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Article written with the help of Richard Rogers of the Iowa Firearms Coalition.

Your 2nd Amendment rights are literally on the ballot next Tuesday!

You the voter have the final say in whether a Right to Keep and Bear Arms goes into the Iowa Constitution!

Iowa is one of 6 states that does not have a Right to Keep and Bear Arms in its state constitution. Tuesday you have the opportunity to put it in there!

The full text of the 2nd Amendment proposed on your ballot will read as follows:

Article 1 of the Constitution of the State of Iowa is amended by adding the following new section: Right to keep and bear 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 this right to be a fundamental individual right. Any and all restrictions of this right shall be subject to strict scrutiny.

This constitutional amendment has gone through all the legislative processes necessary to become part of our state constitution. The final step is approval of the voters at the ballot box.

Some may think we already have a Right to Keep and Bear Arms in our federal Constitution, so why do we need this? This will help protect your “2nd Amendment” rights from state laws that could possibly violate them. It is best for Iowans for our legal climate to favor the law-abiding citizen that wants to defend his life, family, and property.

Some have claimed that the wording of this amendment is deceptive, but there is nothing whatsoever that is deceptive in this simple three- sentence amendment.

1.) “The right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” This line is taken directly from the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Justice Thomas, in a recent 6-3 majority opinion in a U.S. Supreme Court case which ruled unconstitutional a New York state gun control law, stated that this statement an “unqualified command”. He has repeatedly stated that Second Amendment rights are NOT second-class rights. So,
there is nothing deceptive or even controversial in this line of the proposed amendment.

2.) “The sovereign state of Iowa affirms and recognizes this right to be a fundamental individual right.” Throughout the history of this nation, the right to keep and bear arms was generally recognized as both a fundamental and individual right. (It was really only during the period from about 1940 through the 1970s that there was a broad attempt to reinterpret that right as either a collective right only of those members of an organized militia or of the states themselves.) This anti-historical argument was thoroughly refuted in a Supreme Court decision in 2008, which affirmed that that the right to keep and bear arms is a fundamental individual right. The Court said, “By the time of the founding, the right to have arms had become fundamental for English subjects.” Therefore, the historical record demonstrates there is nothing deceptive or confusing about this second line of the amendment.

3.) “Any and all restrictions of this right shall be subject to strict scrutiny.”
Strict scrutiny is not used commonly in conversation, but it is hardly deceptive and ought not to be controversial. It is a legal term and is used to determine the constitutionality of a law if there is a question over whether it violates a fundamental right. It is required to be used for all fundamental rights laid out in our Constitutions, such as freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, etc. The right to keep and bear arms is to be treated no differently. Controversy comes in when courts do not use the strict scrutiny standard for fundamental rights when they are supposed to, which they have not always done when it comes to the right to keep and bear arms. This proposed amendment to Iowa’s Constitution merely makes very clear that Iowa courts are to use the strict scrutiny standard when they evaluate whether a law affecting gun rights is constitutional or not.

The opponents of this amendment ask, “Why not just use the exact words of the Second Amendment?” For the same reason mentioned above – Strict scrutiny has been added because courts have not always adhered to that standard when looking at whether a citizen’s right to keep and bear arms has been violated.

Some claim the standard of strict scrutiny may somehow allow violent felons, the mentally incompetent, and convicted domestic abusers to possess and carry guns. Part of applying strict scrutiny is looking at the history and tradition of our nation regarding laws affecting fundamental rights, which applies to gun laws. America has historically consistently maintained restrictions of that sort. Other states that have expressly established the strict scrutiny standard have not made changes to their laws denying felons and the mentally incompetent their gun rights.

Conclusion: Please turn your ballot over and vote “Yes” to adding the Right to Keep and Bear Arms to our Iowa Constitution!

Author: Sandy Salmon


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