There is a good reason the process of amending Iowa’s Constitution is drawn-out. Two separate legislative sessions must act, followed by ratification by Iowa citizens. The intent is clearly for careful deliberation by legislators and a final decision by a fully informed public. Sponsors of SJ1 and HSB9, a constitutional amendment to ensure Iowans the right to bear arms, seem uninterested in either.
Its sponsors would have you believe it simply enshrines federal Second Amendment protections in Iowa’s Constitution. However, this is a supercharged Second Amendment stipulating that “Any and all restrictions of this right [to bear arms] shall be subject to strict scrutiny.” The Second Amendment does not say (and the U.S. Supreme Court never held) that strict scrutiny applies to all gun regulations.
Strict scrutiny is the highest level of scrutiny by the courts, putting up a high barrier not only to enactment of new restrictions on gun ownership and use but any and all restrictions. Recent polls in Iowa show the vast majority of the public, including a majority of gun owners, favor closing loopholes in the background check system and other sensible restrictions such as permit requirements. At a time when gun violence is increasingly recognized as a public health crisis, legislative committees dealing with SJ1 and HSB9 should show their commitment to responsive government by offering adequate time for their deliberation.
Gun violence prevention advocates:
Temple Hiatt, Iowa City
Lori Durian, North Liberty
Jodie Theobald, Iowa City
Lenore Holte, Coralville
Patricia Zebrowski, Iowa City
Leslie Carpenter, Iowa City
Susan Bryant, Iowa City
Rebecca Truszkowski, Coralville
Julie Kearney, Iowa City
Liz O’Hara, Iowa City