Photo Credit: Jason Mrachina (CC-By-NC-ND 2.0)

On Monday evening, the Iowa House passed HJR 2009, a “right to keep and bear arms” amendment that would amend the Iowa Constitution to add language affirming the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, by a 54 to 42 vote. The vote was held after a long debate with Iowa House Democrats who attempted and failed to amend the bill numerous times.

State Representative Matt Windschitl (R-Missouri Valley) was the floor manager for the House bill. HJR 2009 passed on a party-line vote with State Representatives David Heaton (R-Mount Pleasant) and Andy McKean (R-Anamosa) voting with Iowa House Democrats against the resolution.

The text that would be added to Article I (Iowa’s Bill of Rights) of the Iowa Constitution should the Amendment be adopted would read:

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

The phrase “strict scrutiny” is a form of judicial review that courts use to determine the constitutionality of a law. Wex Legal Dictionary states:

To pass strict scrutiny, the legislature must have passed the law to further a “compelling governmental interest,” and must have narrowly tailored the law to achieve that interest.

The definition continues:

For a court to apply strict scrutiny, the legislature must either have significantly abridged a fundamental right with the law’s enactment or have passed a law that involves a suspect classification.  Suspect classifications have come to include race, national origin, religion, alienage, and poverty.

In order for a constitutional amendment to be adopted it needs to pass both the House and the Senate in concurrent General Assemblies, then Iowa’s voters must ratify it by majority vote.

SJR 2009, the Senate companion version of the bill, was passed by the Iowa Senate Judiciary Committee on February 19th – 13 to 0. It is awaiting a Senate floor vote.

Groups opposing the constitutional amendment are the Iowa Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, Episcopal Diocese of Iowa, League of Women Voters, and the Interfaith Alliance of Iowa. Groups supporting the constitutional amendment are National Rifle Association, Iowa Firearms Coalition, Iowa Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, and ABATE of Iowa.

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