This letter was submitted to Rep. Todd Prichard:
Minority Leader Todd Prichard,
We’re encouraged to see the Iowa House Minority leader intends to vote in support of and recognizes the need to place protections of the right to keep and bear arms in the Iowa Constitution. We hope that when you say you intend to vote in favor of a measure to do just that, it isn’t just slippery lawyer speak to mislead a constituent.
Surely, you wouldn’t hide behind an amendment to this measure that will change the language to the 27 words of the Second Amendment for which members of your caucus have already shown a great disdain and then turn around and rise in opposition to recognizing the right to keep and bear arms in the Iowa Constitution as a fundamental and individual right that is protected with a standard of strict scrutiny. Which is exactly what you did last year.
Here is the language you should support in HJR13: “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.”
Surely, as a lawyer and legislator, you would recognize that the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. You voted for this in the amendment, so this must not be the issue. The Heller decision affirmed that the Second Amendment is an individual right and I don’t recall your standing in opposition to this resolution last year to dispute that, so this also must not be the part you contest. The issue must be in the standard of strict scrutiny since in last year’s floor debate you opposed the idea of adding an amendment that you said “goes beyond the Second Amendment”.
Strict scrutiny is the highest standard of judicial review and requires the government to prove that its objective is undeniably necessary, and that no effective, but less restrictive, means are available to achieve its goal.. It is the standard generally applied when considering potential conflicts with fundamental rights.
What does that mean? It means, that if you are going to infringe on my right to keep and bear arms, there had better be a damn good reason!
Nobody is advocating that the right to keep and bear arms is more important than other fundamental rights, but there is no doubt that it is indeed a fundamental right. Justice Alito wasn’t vague in the majority decision for McDonald v. Chicago, which held that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment limited Chicago from banning the possession of handguns by citizens and reiterated previous rulings that the right to keep and bear arms is indeed a fundamental right.
Any right that is essential to the American way of life and our pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness is a fundamental right. If the Iowa Legislature decides to protect speech, the press, due process, assembly, a right to privacy, a jury trial, and the right to keep and bear arms with strict scrutiny; that would be a great day for Iowans.
So why protect the right to keep and bear arms now? Besides the fact that Iowa is one of only six states without constitutional protection for this right and that it is an individual right worth protecting, it has become increasingly clear that some not only discount the value of this fundamental right, but now feel empowered to infringe upon it.
As a lawyer, legislator, and member of the Iowa Democratic Party, I am sure that you are familiar with your party’s platform. That platform promotes an aggressive list of restrictions on Iowans, including bans on common firearms and accessories, firearms registration, arbitrary waiting periods on firearms purchases, and again granting Sheriffs discretion over whether and how to issue Permits to Carry Weapons. Can you not imagine that some Iowans believe such proposals might infringe upon their fundamental rights? Is this why you object to strict scrutiny?
As a leader of the Democrats in the Iowa House, I am sure you are also familiar with legislation proposed by your members that would accomplish many of these goals. Your party has drifted a long way since the day that Governor Culver signed the “shall-issue” weapons permit system into law. I sincerely hope that you and your caucus re-evaluate this hostility to Iowans’ free exercise of their natural and fundamental rights and step back from the ledge to sanity on the ineffectiveness and realities of gun control.
We do hope that your email was sincere, that your caucus intends to support HJR13 and that your words were not an attempt to mislead your constituent. We look forward to your support of HJR13 or an honest explanation to your constituents.
Iowa Firearms Coalition
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