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GOP advancing proposed gun rights amendment to Iowa constitution

DES MOINES — A proposal to add a gun rights amendment to the state constitution is retracing its path through the Iowa legislature.

The proposal has been approved twice before, but a paperwork error in the secretary of state’s office is forcing Republican legislators to pass it a third time before it can be presented to voters in 2022. Richard Rogers of the Iowa Firearms Coalition said the amendment is needed because opponents of gun rights are trying to “weaponize” the federal courts.

“At this very moment, serious attempts are being made to shamelessly back the court, turning it into a political tool,” Rogers said during a House subcommittee hearing Tuesday. “Should this ever success, the need for state-level protections of the right to keep and bear arms will be critical.”

Critics say the proposed amendment goes further than the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Tom Chapman of the Iowa Catholic Conference said it could lead to the repeal of background checks and gun permit requirements.

“We think this ‘strict scrutiny’ language put current regulation in jeopardy,” Chapman said.

The Republican-led Iowa Senate overwhelmingly advanced the proposed gun rights amendment last year, but cleared the Iowa House by a narrower margin. Republicans have a larger majority in the Iowa House this year, raising the prospects for easier passage of the proposal.

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