Yesterday there was quite a show in Iowa, with the Democrats walking out over some proposed gun bills. But the bills managed to pass. Iowa is one of only a few states without any right to keep and bear arms provision, and this bill would propose an amendment to the Iowa Constitution to give it one. What’s more important, the language is much stronger, and not open to interpretation by the courts:
The right of an individual to acquire, keep, possess, transport, carry, transfer and use arms to defend life and liberty and for all other legitimate purposes is fundamental and shall not be infringed upon or denied. Mandatory licensing, registration, or special taxation as a condition of the exercise of this right is prohibited, and Â any other restriction shall be subject to strict scrutiny.
One Iowa representative, who is on the NRA Board, had joined with Democrats to water the language down to just be a rehashing of the Second Amendment, which would have defeated the whole point of this endeavor. I asked some folks I know at NRA what was up in Iowa, and they assured me they would be attempting to fix the language on the floor. It appears that was managed, and this has passed through the House with the original, strong language. I don’t know why Clel Baudler weakened the language, but there could be a number of reasons that don’t amount to sabotage. It’s important to note that Clel voted to improve the language in the final bill. We will try to contact his office and see if he’s willing to talk about what happened there. This bill is of extreme strategic importance the way it is, and language that just repeated the Second Amendment would not have the impact we need.
Long Term Strategy
There just aren’t many states left without a RKBA provision where we could do something like this, but with lower courts in this country consistently reading the Second Amendment to be a narrow, essentially meaningless right, passing something like this would be a strong signal to the courts as to how the people interpret their right.
Secondly, Iowa is not a state known for radical politics in either direction. Most Iowans I’ve met are pretty mellow, easy going people. If a provision like this can pass in Iowa, we can probably pass it in other states. This is important, even for states that already have RKBA, because in the event the left interprets the Second Amendment out of the Constitution, overturning Heller and McDonald, or narrowing the decisions into meaninglessness, pushing a federal constitutional amendment is going to be the only recourse. Passage of a constitutional amendment this strong in a state like Iowa would serve as a warning to the left-wing judges to treat the Second Amendment seriously, because we might have the juice to pass this as a federal amendment if the backlash is severe enough, and with language that won’t leave any weasel room.
Short Term Strategy
Our opponents fear and loathe this proposed amendment. Despite all their hewing and hawing about how gun owners are bullies who don’t believe in democracy, this bill would have to pass the Legislature twice in two back-to-back sessions, and then be voted up or down by the people of Iowa. Our opponents should welcome this. But despite their machinations, they don’t really believe in democracy either. They don’t have the money to fight a ballot measure, and they know we do. Gun control leaders are great supporters of Democracy if they think Democracy will go their way. Not so much if they think they’ll lose.
Also, short term, this fixes a lot of problems for Iowa, where not every local community has welcomed the changes in their gun laws, and this should allow some restrictive laws to be challenged in court. It also ought to preserve carry rights. Had language that echoed the Second Amendment made its way through, the courts in Iowa would have likely just piggy backed off the federal protections, which would have gotten Iowa nowhere.
Short Term Tactics
If you live in Iowa, contact your Senators. Hold them accountable in the up coming elections if they don’t help move this. Iowa’s senate is still controlled by the Democrats, so there’s probably little chance the RKBA amendment bill is going to be taken up. But some phone calls might put some fear into Senators to act.