In Iowa, Gun Safety is on the Ballot This November
Iowa legislators have decimated the state’s gun laws, putting it at #33 on our list of states with strong gun laws. And yet they’re still trying to roll back our laws. Iowa state lawmakers have introduced yet another alarming gun safety measure—this time, a dangerous amendment that will be on the ballot this November.
Public Measure #1 is a proposed amendment to the Iowa Constitution that would endanger communities by requiring courts to apply “strict scrutiny,” the most severe form of judicial analysis when ruling on challenges to firearm-related laws, rules, and regulations. Public Measure #1 would threaten Iowa’s basic public safety protections, including laws that prohibit gun possession by convicted felons and domestic abusers.
The gun lobby claims that strict scrutiny amendments “restore” the right to keep and bear arms—when what they really do is threaten public safety laws by forcing judges to apply the highest judicial standard when analyzing firearm-related laws. This standard is not required by the Supreme Court’s recent decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Assn., Inc. v. Bruen.
Oppose Public Measure #1 in Iowa
Public Measure #1 would force Iowa courts to evaluate firearm-related laws using “strict scrutiny,” jeopardizing basic, common-sense public safety laws in Iowa.
If adopted, strict scrutiny would threaten to eliminate critical gun laws in the state, including:
Prohibitions on gun possession by convicted felons: Iowa prohibits people convicted of felonies from possessing firearms. After strict scrutiny amendments were adopted in Louisiana and Missouri, a handful of people convicted of felonies challenged laws in those states that prohibit felons from possessing firearms. A lower court found that Louisiana’s law prohibiting felons from having guns was unconstitutional. Fortunately, the Louisiana Supreme Court reversed this ruling. A similar ruling in Iowa is not guaranteed.
Prohibitions on gun possession by domestic abusers: Iowa prohibits some domestic abusers from possessing firearms and requires them to relinquish the firearms they possess. In Louisiana, after strict scrutiny passed, a convicted domestic abuser challenged the constitutionality of a state law prohibiting possession of a firearm by people convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence crimes.
Minimum age, secure storage, and sensitive areas restrictions: Strict scrutiny would directly threaten Iowa’s public safety laws, including regulations that prohibit transferring firearms to people under certain ages, require firearms to be securely stored, and prohibit firearms in sensitive areas—including public college campuses.
Public Measure #1 would put Iowa taxpayers on the hook for costly litigation.
The Missouri State Auditor determined that Louisiana’s strict scrutiny amendment had required “significant time, effort, and expenditures by Louisiana’s public defender and district attorney’s offices,” imposing “significant workload and related costs on the Louisiana government.” The auditor projected that a strict scrutiny amendment in Missouri would result in lawsuits challenging state gun law that would cost Missouri taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.
The bottom line is that Public Measure #1 will not keep Iowans safe from gun violence. Research tells us that it will do the exact opposite. States with weaker gun laws have higher gun deaths. Louisiana, Alabama, and Missouri have constitutional amendments similar to this one, and are among the five states with the highest rates of gun deaths in the United States.
By following the extreme path of other states who have passed similar amendments, Iowa legislators would be consciously putting common sense gun safety measures on the line—and Iowans in danger of increased gun violence.
This amendment isn’t just a problem for today, it’s a problem for all Iowans’ safety for years to come. If passed, this measure will tie state leaders’ hands, putting the few established gun safety laws in danger of being removed and threatening any new public safety laws that future legislatures may try to pass.
Join an Upcoming Event
Gun sense voters across the country are supporting candidates who are challenging normalized gun violence in their states. Learn more about one of our many virtual and in-person events in Iowa.
With less than two months until Election Day, it’s critical that we rally behind candidates who oppose life-threatening amendments and stripping more common-sense gun laws.
This fight is especially important because a state constitutional amendment is much harder to change than a law—if this amendment becomes part of the state constitution, it’s hard to change it back.
The first step towards ending gun violence in Iowa is to protect the few gun laws in place, not to introduce a measure that will work to dismantle them. By being informed voters and uplifting Gun Sense Candidates, we can make sure that this ballot measure stays on the ballot in November, and doesn’t become a part of Iowa’s Constitution.
Paid for by Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund, Inc. P.O. Box 4184, New York, NY 10163. John Feinblatt, President. Not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.
Every day, more than 120 people in the United States are killed with guns, twice as many are shot and wounded and countless others are impacted by acts of gun violence.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. WONDER Online Database, Underlying Cause of Death. A yearly average was developed using four years of the most recent available data: 2018 to 2021.