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Iowa Moms Demand Action, Students Demand Action Statement on Passage of ‘Strict Scrutiny’ Constitutional Amendment in House and Senate

January 28, 2021

The Iowa chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, the grassroots networks of Everytown for Gun Safety, released the following statement after the Iowa House and Senate advanced SJR 7, a “strict scrutiny” amendment to the Iowa state constitution. 

“‘Strict scrutiny’ would be a truly extreme, far-reaching change to our constitution and, unfortunately, is much more than an affirmation of our Second Amendment rights — which we value greatly here in Iowa,” said Katie Albrecht, a volunteer with the Iowa chapter of Moms Demand Action. “‘Strict scrutiny’ is a dangerous attempt to undermine Iowa’s reasonable, popular public safety laws that protect our communities by keeping guns out of the hands of people who we all agree shouldn’t have them — like convicted felons and domestic abusers. Despite what lawmakers are saying, only three states have enacted ‘strict scrutiny’ laws, and Iowa should not be the fourth.”

Nearly 200 public comments have been sent to lawmakers in the House and Senate and over 180 emails to the House in opposition to this proposal. 

What to know about SJR 7:

  • By adding a “strict scrutiny” amendment to the Iowa constitution, lawmakers would be forcing courts to use a type of judicial analysis that could lead to them striking down Iowa’s bedrock public safety laws — like the laws that prohibit convicted felons from having guns, and the background check requirements that ensure those prohibited purchasers can’t legally purchase guns.

If adopted, strict scrutiny would threaten to eliminate Iowa’s most crucial public safety laws, including:

  • Prohibition on Gun Possession by Convicted Felons: After strict scrutiny amendments passed in Louisiana and Missouri, convicted felons challenged state laws that prohibit felons from possessing firearms. At least one lower court found that Louisiana’s law prohibiting felons from having guns was unconstitutional. Fortunately, the Louisiana Supreme Court reversed this ruling.
  • Prohibitions on Gun Possession by Domestic Abusers: 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.
  • Background Check and Concealed Weapons Permit Requirements: Strict scrutiny would directly threaten Iowa’s laws requiring a background check on every handgun sale and a permit to carry a concealed handgun in public. 

Strict scrutiny laws make state taxpayers fund the flow of lawsuits brought by criminal defendants:

  • Proponents of this constitutional amendment claim it would simply bring Iowa in line with the majority of other states, but in fact only three states have adopted radical strict scrutiny amendments—Alabama, Louisiana, and Missouri. This extreme language has brought costly repercussions. In all three cases, the state has had to pay to defend a flood of lawsuits brought by criminal defendants, including convicted domestic abusers who challenged state prohibitions on gun possession by domestic abusers. The result has drained coffers and disempowered law enforcement.
  • The Missouri State Auditor determined that Louisiana’s strict scrutiny law led to “significant time, effort, and expenditures by Louisiana’s public defenders and district attorney’s offices,” imposing “significant workload and related costs on the Louisiana government.” The auditor projected that a strict scrutiny law in Missouri would ultimately cost Missouri taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.

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