U.S.A. –-(AmmoLand.com)-–The Great Seal of Iowa boldly states:
We prize our liberties and our rights we will maintain.
The Iowa Great seal shows a citizen soldier with a musket. In spite of the sentiments on the seal, Iowa is one of only six states where the state constitution does not contain an explicit protection for the right to keep and bear arms. The seal was adopted in 1847. At the time, the right to bear arms was relatively uncontroversial. In the famous Dred Scott decision, Chief Justice Tanney said this, speaking of the rights slaves would have if they were considered to be people:
It would give to persons of the negro race, who were recognised as citizens in any one State of the Union, the right to enter every other State whenever they pleased, singly or in companies, without pass or passport, and without obstruction, to sojourn there as long as they pleased, to go where they pleased at every hour of the day or night without molestation, unless they committed some violation of law for which a white man would be punished; and it would give them the full liberty of speech in public and in private upon all subjects upon which its own citizens might speak; to hold public meetings upon political affairs, and to keep and carry arms wherever they went.
In the last decade, there have been several attempts to add a state constitutional amendment to protect the right to keep and bear arms in Iowa. A Republican representative explained the requirement for the amendment this way:
“We have found that liberal judges are willing to just take away your right to keep and bear arms, the individual right. This is an attempt to do everything we can to make that harder to do,” said Sen. Julian Garrett, R-Indianola.
Here is the text of the proposed amendment:
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.
The path to passing a constitutional amendment in Iowa is long and difficult. Both houses of the legislature must pass the measure with majority votes. Then an election for the legislature must take place. Then both houses must pass the measure, with majority votes, a second time. Then the measure will be put on the ballot for the next election. If a majority of the voters approve it, it will become part of the Iowa Constitution.
Part of the process was for the Secretary of State to publish the proposed amendment after the first passage through the legislature, within a particular time frame. After the amendment passed both houses of the legislature the first time, in 2018, the Secretary of State forgot to publish it. This set back the effort to pass the Amendment for two years.
Since that time, the legislature removed the power of the Secretary of State to, essentially, veto a Constitutional amendment by forgetting to publish it. The amendment was passed again in 2021. In addition, Iowa joined the Constitutional Carry club on April 2, 2021.
The right to keep and bear arms amendment will be on the ballot in Iowa, for November 8, 2022. From ballotpedia:
A “yes” vote supports adding a right to own and bear firearms to the Iowa Constitution and require strict scrutiny for any alleged violations of the right brought before a court.
A “no” vote opposes adding a right to own and bear firearms to the Iowa Constitution and require strict scrutiny for any alleged violations of the right brought before a court.
The amendment has an excellent chance of being passed by the voters. No right to keep and bear arms (rkba) amendment has been rejected by voters in the United States. Voters have strengthened RKBA amendments in several other states in the past decades. Wisconsin Constitution’s Section 25 was passed in 1998 with 74% of the vote. Kansas passed an amendment in 2010 with 88% of the vote. Louisiana passed a similar amendment in 2012 with 74% of the vote. Alabama passed a similar amendment in 2014 with 72% of the vote. Missouri passed a strengthened rkba amendment in 2014 with 61% of the vote.
With the Biden administration pushing hard to infringe on RKBA rights nationally, it is likely Iowa voters will follow the motto on their state seal, and vote to maintain their rights.
The other five states which do not have the explicit protection of the right to keep and bear arms in their state constitution are California, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, and New York. No surprise there.
About Dean Weingarten:
Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of Constitutional Carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.