In 2022, Iowa voters approved of an amendment to the Constitution of the State of Iowa guaranteeing a right to keep and bear arms to the Iowa State Constitution. The language of the amendment says “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.”1
Rather than simply enshrining a right to keep and bear arms, the constitutional amendment contains an extreme provision that would force judges to apply a legal standard called “strict scrutiny” to “any and all restrictions” of the right to keep and bear arms—including background check laws, laws prohibiting gun possession by violent offenders, and restrictions on guns in schools. Only three states (Alabama, Missouri, and Louisiana) have ever adopted such an extreme provision and they have done so recently; there is no historical support for a “strict scrutiny” provision in a state constitution.
In addition, in its landmark Heller decision recognizing individual Second Amendment rights, the US Supreme Court rejected the radical idea that strict scrutiny should apply to all gun laws. In fact, Justice Scalia’s opinion identified many reasonable and basic gun safety laws, like those that prevent dangerous people from accessing guns and keep schools gun-free, as “presumptively lawful”—a standard that is the opposite of strict scrutiny. Courts in Iowa and elsewhere have overwhelmingly rejected the strict scrutiny standard as being contrary to Justice Scalia’s opinion in Heller. Nonetheless, this extreme standard is now the law in the state of Iowa.
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- Article I, Sec. 1A, Constitution of the State of Iowa.[↩]