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Our first priority should be to address health, education and economic issues challenging Iowans due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I have signed onto the Democratic plan to Build Back Iowa. Unfortunately, within the first two weeks of session, Republicans have introduced and passed through committee two controversial constitutional amendments.

Republicans Rush Extreme Amendment through Committee

Republicans are back this year with a bill that aims to eliminate background checks, remove the requirement for a permit to carry a concealed handgun, and allow guns in our safest spaces, schools, hospitals, child care centers, and courthouses. The constitutional amendment will likely take down every reasonable gun law on the books because it raises the legal standard beyond the 2nd Amendment of the US Constitution. If Republicans wanted to protect our 2nd Amendment rights the language of the 2nd Amendment provides a great example of how to do just that. Unfortunately, Republicans have insisted on using “strict Scrutiny” as the standard for reviewing laws.

In this time of increased divisiveness, after the US Capitol was stormed and defiled by an armed mob with violent intent, we need to step back. This is not the time to rush a Constitutional amendment to eliminate Iowa’s common-sense gun laws.

The NRA calls the strict scrutiny amendment “an iron wall around” gun rights. It is estimated that only 30% of laws withstand a “strict scrutiny” challenge. Therefore, the concern is real that HSB9 will eliminate background checks, remove the requirement for a permit to carry a concealed handgun, and allow guns in our safest spaces, schools, hospitals, child care centers, and courthouses.

One fundamental freedom every American should have is the freedom to be safe in our homes, neighborhoods, and communities – freedom to live our lives without the constant threat of gun violence hanging over our heads.

The reckless disregard for the gun violence that plagues so many people’s lives is morally bankrupt and doesn’t have anything to do with protecting freedom.
The fact that military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines are routinely available to people is alarming and surprising news to many Americans. With an “iron wall around gun rights” we don’t know how far the courts will go in allowing more and more dangerous weapons. Semi-automatic military-style assault weapons with high-capacity magazines are readily available to Iowans. Where does it stop?

Statistic: 86% of Americans and 82% of gun owners support requiring all gun buyers to pass a background check, no matter where they buy the gun and no matter who they buy it from.

Nobody knows how our Supreme Court will interpret Iowa’s common-sense gun laws using this strict scrutiny Constitutional Amendment. Nobody knows. We do know that 70% of laws are overturned under a strict scrutiny standard. In his inaugural address, President Biden called for “truth over lies.” As legislators, we have a responsibility to state our clear intentions.

What is the end game? Constitutional carry? Constitutional carry is the legal carrying of a handgun, either openly or concealed, without a license or permit. Instead of a Constitutional Amendment, why don’t you be honest with Iowans and bring this Constitutional Carry bill to the house floor? Republicans are punting this to the courts. Republicans on the far right are always criticizing radical, activist judges for not following the text of the Constitution. But then they justify this extreme amendment by relying on those same so-called activist judges to save it. The truth is that we don’t know how judges will interpret it. We can’t take that chance.

This week, former Presidents Bush, Clinton and Obama, came together and asked us to come together. Former President Bush said that if more Americans would love each other as themselves, a lot of our tensions would go away. This is a fundamental value we have moved away from. This bill divides us. It pits neighbor against neighbor.

Quote of the week: Amanda Gorman, the nation’s first-ever youth poet laureate

We will not march back to what was
but move to what shall be
A country that is bruised but whole,
benevolent but bold,
fierce and free