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As COVID Continues to Exacerbate Gun Violence, Iowa Lawmakers Should Not Undermine Gun Laws with Radical ‘Strict Scrutiny’ Constitutional Amendment

January 14, 2021

As the Iowa legislature returns to Des Moines for the start of the 2021 legislative session this week, lawmakers have the opportunity to pass common-sense gun safety bills — and should abandon efforts to undermine gun laws by making dramatic and dangerous changes to the Iowa constitution. Gun violence prevention is more important than ever in the new year as the pandemic continues to exacerbate gun violence, and after a year of increased gun sales, increased risk of suicide and domestic violence, violent extremists causing unrest across the country, and an increase in city gun violence. 

This year, it’s time for lawmakers to protect Iowans by rejecting dangerous legislation that would undermine our public safety laws. Lawmakers have said they will prioritize passing a “strict scrutiny” amendment to the Iowa constitution, which would force courts to use a type of judicial analysis likely to lead to them striking down Iowa’s bedrock public safety laws — like the laws that prohibit convicted felons and domestic abusers from having guns, and the background check requirements that ensure those prohibited purchasers can’t legally purchase guns.

The introduction of the proposed constitutional amendment comes as the FBI is warning of further armed demonstrations at the state Capitol in Des Moines after last week’s attempted coup at the United States Capitol Building. Lawmakers should be doing more to prevent gun violence, not undermining gun laws that keep guns out of the hands of extremists with criminal histories. 

Polling conducted in 2020 showed: 

  • Opposing background checks on all gun sales was the most disqualifying candidate position among suburban women by a six-point margin;
  • Nearly 70% of voters do not support amending the constitution to undermine Iowa’s gun laws;
  • A majority of voters in Iowa, including 70% of Republican women, say they would never vote for a candidate who doesn’t support background checks on all gun sales.

Statistics about gun violence in Iowa are available here, and information on how Iowa’s gun laws compare to other states’ overall is available here.

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