DES MOINES, Iowa — A proposal that would amend Iowa's Constitution to add "right to bear arms" language needs to pass again in the 2019 or 2020 sessions for voters to weigh in on the issue.
Right now, Iowa is one of six state's that doesn't have "right to bear arms" protections in its constitution that mirrors the Second Amendment in the United States Constitution.
The proposal, House Resolution 2009, already passed the GOP-controlled legislature in 2018. Under Iowa law, any changes need to be approved by two General Assemblies before moving to the ballot.
Second Amendment advocates are confident that the proposal will pass again next year, leaving the final word with voters during the 2020 statewide Election. Those groups are making it a top priority.
“It’s without a doubt our number one priority," said Richard Rogers with the Iowa Firearms Coalition. "It has been for some time and we’re already a third of the way there."
But the proposal faced some pushback from Democrats in the legislature, mostly for the "strict scrutiny" language that would broaden protections for gun owners and make it hard to approve any restrictions in the future.
"It’s going to make it harder to justify restrictions," said Mark Kende, chair of Drake University's Constitutional Law Center. "You’ve got statues about universities, statutes about schools, some facilities that are government facilities that don’t allow weapons. Those could be called into question.”
The "strict scrutiny" provision would make Iowa one of just four states in the country with that language in a state constitution. The U.S. Constitution does not have that language; Louisiana, Alabama and Missouri do.
"There’s no doubt in my mind that something like this would make Iowa one of the most lenient states in terms of access to guns and one of the hardest states for the state government to restrict access to firearms," Kende said.