Iowa Voters Affirm Absolute Right of Citizens to Own Firearms

kudla/shutterstock.com
kudla/shutterstock.com

While most Americans were eagerly awaiting election results for candidates in the 2022 midterm elections (and some are still waiting), there were also some interesting ballot measures that were voted on.

Voters in Iowa amended their state constitution in a big way.

They chose to affirm the right of Iowa citizens to keep and bear arms and imposed the doctrine of strict legal scrutiny on any future gun control laws that the legislature might try to pass. This was a big blow in favor of Iowans’ gun rights.

State constitutions are notoriously difficult to amend, and for good reason. Usually, both houses of a state legislature have to pass the amendment first – and sometimes in back-to-back legislatures, depending on each state’s process. That has to happen before it’s put to a vote of the citizens.

But after going through that lengthy process, Iowa Public Measure 1 passed last Tuesday. It wasn’t even close.

As of this writing, 99% of the vote is reported. There were 747,917 Iowans who voted in favor of Public Measure 1 and 399,479 who opposed it. It was almost a 2-to-1 margin, 65.2% to 34.8%.

The text of Public Measure 1 amends the Iowa constitution to 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.”

By affirming gun ownership as an individual right, this brings Iowa’s constitution in line with the Bruen decision in the Supreme Court earlier this year. That decision basically declared that firearms licenses for ownership are an infringement of the Second Amendment and that individuals have a fundamental right to carry a firearm both on and off of their own private property.

The case overturned some of New York’s draconian anti-self-defense laws.

The more important affirmation in Iowa’s Public Measure 1 is the “strict scrutiny” change. Strict scrutiny is a type of judicial review that is applied to determine whether a law is constitutional.

The doctrine of strict scrutiny means that for any future gun control law to be passed by the legislature in Iowa, the onus is on the government to show that there is a strong or compelling interest in the law. It also means that the law needs to be narrowly tailored or the least restrictive means possible since the law would be infringing on a fundamental right.

If Democrats ever managed to take over the legislature and the governorship in Iowa in some future election, this new constitutional amendment sets up big obstacles against new gun control laws.

This Iowa approach to affirming gun rights is the exact opposite of what just happened in Oregon. The liberals in Antifa-Portland, who outnumber the entire rest of the state, just voted to pass Ballot Measure 114.

It’s one of the most restrictive gun laws on the books in America now. 114 bans any firearm with a magazine that holds more than 6 rounds. This effectively makes almost all handguns and sport rifles in the state of Oregon “illegal.”

And in order to even own a firearm in Oregon, it will now have to be registered with the government, and the owner will have to pay a $65 per year tax for every registered gun they own. This is all blatantly unconstitutional, especially in the wake of the Bruen decision.

The law will likely be overturned after the very first lawsuit against it. Some County Sheriffs in Oregon are already saying they won’t enforce it.

But this highlights the need for states to affirm their citizens’ gun rights, and to apply the doctrine of strict scrutiny to all future gun control bills.

Well done, Iowa!