Iowa needs constitutional amendment to protect gun rights

January 31, 2018

Why does Iowa need to amend our state constitution to recognize and protect the right to keep and bear arms?

It might seem redundant, as the Bill of Rights already states that “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” Also, the Supreme Court of the United States has made crystal clear that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right in the landmark Heller case a few years ago.

So how could a state constitutional amendment be necessary?

Iowa is one of only six states that lack constitutional protection for these fundamental natural rights. While some state-level gun rights provisions were adopted in the era of George Washington and others have been added in recent decades, they have been designed to protect individuals from an overreaching state government. The language of many is even more direct and specific than is the Second Amendment.

State constitutions are an essential part of federalism in that they define and limit the powers of state governments to prevent the erosion of individual rights. While the Second Amendment to our federal constitution enshrines our right to keep and bear arms, several states have failed to protect those rights in their constitutions — or, worse, in practice. Regarding the lack of state constitutional protection, Iowa is in the company of New York, California, Minnesota, New Jersey and Maryland — states that are openly hostile to gun rights.

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