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Voters to decide whether right to bear arms belongs in Iowa Constitution

The amendment is asking for Iowa to recognize the right to keep and bear arms as fundamental and make restrictions only with strict scrutiny.

DES MOINES, Iowa — Gun rights and laws are on the ballots this year. On the back of the ballot, voters can decide to vote whether to adopt a new amendment to the state's constitution. 

The constitutional amendment summary reads: "Provides that the right of the people of Iowa to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. The sovereign state of Iowa affirms and recognizes the right to keep and bear arms as a fundamental right. Any and all restrictions of this right shall be subject to strict scrutiny."

Art Roche with Iowans for Gun Safety said he is telling people to vote 'no' on the amendment.

He said his group is against this because it will put Iowa in a league with other states with similar amendments that have high death rates from guns. 

Roche also noted he thinks this will impede the courts from stopping offenders.

"This will tie the hands of judges in court when they are making a judgment on a case involving guns and be forced to go with the least restrictive situation for a gun offender," Roche said.

Karen Kedrowski, a professor at Iowa State University, said Iowa is one of six states in the nation without a state constitution protecting gun ownership.  

She also said to get this on a ballot, it's been brought up in three legislative sessions, when usually only two are needed.

Kedrowski said what's unique about this bill is the word choice of "strict scrutiny', because if it passes, it could make it hard for the state to block certain gun regulations. 

"It's a very high bar for the government to be able to justify…it's almost impossible to justify discrimination under the standard of strict scrutiny," Kedrowski said.

However, John McLaughlin, with Iowa Firearms Coalition, said making it harder for the government to restrict a person's rights and access to guns is why his group is telling people to vote yes, and why the amendment is important.

 "We're just trying to keep our fundamental rights our natural rights not to let some legislative body or lower court or something like that interfere with that," McLaughlin said. 

Kredowski said if the amendment does get adopted, there is no set timeline for when it would take effect.

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