Dangerous gun amendment on Iowa's November ballot

Gerald Ott of Ankeny was a high school English teacher and for 30 years a school improvement consultant for the Iowa State Education Association.

On June 15, as many as a dozen Kansas City area schools shut down summer classes when a generalized threat was posted on Snapchat. A 19-year-old suspect has been charged with making a terrorist threat.

The Kansas City Star's editorial board commented, “If lawmakers won’t do what most Americans want and pass some real, effective and warranted restrictions on gun access, then we are left with drilling children on how to react when a gunman comes into their school.”

That’s just where Governor Kim Reynolds wants Iowa schools to be — battened down, armed, drilled, quivering, guarded, and under desks.

Last year, Reynolds signed a law allowing Iowans to buy and carry handguns without a permit, fulfilling a longtime goal of gun rights advocates. The law, which some advocates call "constitutional carry," took effect July 1, 2021.

Last week, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine signed a bill allowing teachers to carry guns in class after 24 hours of training. The prior law required 700 hours of training. Sad. Dangerous.

Under Iowa law, teachers are allowed to carry weapons at school. What parent wants to send her kid to a classroom where the teacher is packing heat?

The Des Moines Register's editors recently called for voting against a proposed Iowa constitutional amendment. If enacted, it would make all firearm restrictions subject to “strict scrutiny”—meaning that if any gun regulations were challenged in court, the state would need to prove the law was narrowly tailored to further a compelling government interest. That's a difficult bar to clear.

Iowa voters will have a chance to vote yes or no on this amendment in the 2022 general election. If the majority vote yes, the following language will be added to the state constitution:

The right of an individual to acquire, keep, possess, transport, carry, transfer, and use arms to defend life and liberty and for all other legitimate purposes is fundamental and shall not be infringed upon or denied. Mandatory licensing, registration, or special taxation as a condition of the exercise of this right is prohibited, and any other restriction shall be subject to strict scrutiny.

Under a “strict scrutiny” test, the Register explains, even if the people's elected representatives thoughtfully balance competing interests and arrive at a solution with the aim of saving lives, their efforts could be cast aside for not meeting every prong of the (extreme) judicial test.

Incredibly, Reynolds, a grandma, supports this dangerous amendment. The Register asks voters to reject it. So do I. Get ready for November 8. Tell your friends.

PS: The podcast ”The Weeds” (Vox) recently posted a segment with host Dylan Matthews and co-host Dara Lind, joined by Vox politics reporter Nicole Narea, to talk about gun violence. They discuss the findings of three different research studies related to firearms, which gun control policies are effective, the outcomes of specific violence interventions, and how state legislatures respond to mass shootings. Excellent for those interested in preventing gun violence.

White paper 1: “The Science of Gun Policy

White paper 2: “Presence of Armed School Officials and Fatal and Nonfatal Gunshot Injuries During Mass School Shootings, United States, 1980-2019”

White paper 3: “The Impact of Mass Shootings on Gun Policy

PPS: Read. It will be on the test‼️ We Need Hope to Combat Violence. That Won’t Arrive Without Action.

Top image: "March for Our Lives” protesters demonstrate outside the White House on March 24, 2018. Photo by Phil Pasquini available via Shutterstock.

  • Using their language

    We should stop using the term "gun rights." Any "right" belongs only to the well-regulated militia operating in service to the state. Such a group has a right to keep arms but that does not mean everyone has a right to carry them to the grocery store.

    Using the language of the gun sellers hurts our quest for a safe community. We don't say illegal aliens or use the term death tax. We should not accept the "gun rights" frame either.

  • Agree on terminology

    I agree we need to find a phrase to counter "gun rights." I find it ironic that "to protect liberty" is in the proposed amendment, as the solution to mass shootings seems to be to require everyone else to be locked up in schools, have excessive identification when entering an office building, and otherwise tolerate living in a surveillance society. (I appreciate red flag laws, but I am also very concerned about how they can be used against people. I am also thinking of numerous radio programs I have hard of how the everyday use of tracking tools is now being used against women seeking abortions.) As to the right to keep guns for well-regulated militia, I have also been listening to several NPR programs that have discussed the 2008 (I believe) US Supreme Court ruling expanding the right of guns to non-militia purposes and that have tracked the idea of guns as an overpowering right to NRA and related propaganda going back at least to the mid-1970s.

    • yes, the Heller ruling

      that first established an individual right to possess firearms (outside the context of a well-regulated militia) was in 2008.

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