By Brandon Council
Iowa sits somewhere in the middle in regard to firearms freedom. In fact, in a 2018 article by Keith Wood with Guns & Ammo, Iowa ranks at number 35 out of the 50 States and the Capitol (up from 36). The ranking is based on 1-10 scores on five categories (Right to Carry, Black Rifles, NFA, Castle Doctrine, and Miscellaneous). Not the worst, but certainly not the best. Interestingly enough, Giffords, the anti-Second Amendment organization gives Iowa a grade of C-, although for different reasons. There is a lot of room for Iowa to improve firearm owners’ rights, and that’s what may be happening.
Most States in the USA have included an amendment in their constitution that closely reflects the Second Amendment. Iowa is currently one of the few exceptions but was on track to change that in 2020. The Amendment would read: “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”. To amend the Iowa Constitution, a few steps need to be taken. According to the Iowa Legislation website, a member of either the Senate or House of Representatives needs to propose the amendment. The same proposal needs to be agreed upon by two successive General Assemblies, meaning agreement before an election and again after the newly elected General Assembly takes office. The first vote on this measure took place last year and passed. A critical step in this process is a legal notification that needs to be published to advance a proposed amendment to a second vote. This critical step was overlooked by the Secretary of State’s office; the ones in charge of filing the documents. Iowans would probably have seen the amendment on ballots in 2020, but because the Secretary of State’s Office dropped the ball 2022 is our next possibility. Governor Kim Reynolds told reporters that it was “really unfortunate” and that it would be made right. This topic is sure to be brought up during the current session of the General Assembly, however this setback leaves Iowa gun owners with the daunting possibility of democrats taking control of the Senate in 2020 and stopping it.
It’s not all bad news though. A senate study bill proposing the enhancement of the non-professional permit to carry weapons was introduced to a Judiciary Subcommittee in mid-January to determine whether it was worth pursuing. They approved and it was moved forward. It was then approved by the whole Judiciary Committee at the end of January. The proposed bill, Senate File 116, would allow an individual with a non-professional permit, to carry firearm on school property while dropping off or picking up a person or item and only in the parking lot or driveway of the school. This would save Iowa parents who conceal carry the burden of leaving their firearm at home when dropping off their student at school. The outlook on this becoming law is optimistic, but there will most likely be objections from the gun control crowd in Iowa.
The current elected officials in Iowa seem to be on the side of firearm owners, pushing more and more de-regulation legislation but we can’t let this elevate our complacency. We must always continue to contact these individuals and let them know where their constituents stand on gun owner rights. If this trend continues, we will likely move up from number 35 and see our Giffords grade drop from C-.