Meeting Public Comments
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A joint resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the State of Iowa relating to the right of the people to keep and bear arms.(See SJR 7.)
Subcommittee members: Zaun-CH, Bisignano, Schultz
Date: Thursday, January 21, 2021
Time: 10:00 AM - 10:30 AM
Location: 217 Conference Room
The purpose of comments is to provide information to members of the subcommittee.
Names and comments are public records. Remaining information is considered a confidential record.
Jane R 
SJR 1 is not an attempt to add the Second Amendment right to the Iowa Constitution. The Republican majority voted down an amendment that exactly mirrors the US Constitutions Second Amendment.Under this proposed amendment to the Iowa Constitution, ALL state gun safety regulations would be subject to "strict scrutiny," the highest level of constitutional review available. Every commonsense gun safety laws and future laws would be challenged in court and would be at risk, including background checks, permit age limits and training, prohibition on felons to possess a gun, and more. SJR 1 goes well beyond the federal Second Amendment and is terribly unwise in light of the suicide rate, mass shootings, private 3Dprinting of firearms, Capitol insurrection, and more. Please vote NO on SJR 1.
Leslie Carpenter [Iowa Mental Health Advocacy]
As a serious brain disorders advocate and the mom of an adult son with a serious brain illness, a Schizoaffective Disorder, I am opposed to this bill. This bill is extreme and would prevent the very kinds of sensible gun safety legislation the majority of Iowans and NRA members support such as background checks and Extreme Risk Protection Orders, to prevent guns from getting in the hands of people who shouldnt have them. Since suicides make up the majority of gun deaths (66%), and suicide attempts with guns are lethal 8590% of the time, having the ability to have Extreme Risk Protection Orders would be one of the most impactful ways for the Iowa Government to actually limit gun violence & deaths in our state. This bill would prevent the types of legislation that could protect our children and the public from being victims of gun violence.I know that many consider the right to own guns to be a vital right, but I feel strongly the sensible gun legislation doesnt impinge on those rights, and helps with the right of our children and citizens to feel safe in our communities across the state. For me, protecting public safety is much more a priority.I urge you to vote against this bill which would limit sensible gun safety legislation that we KNOW saves lives.
Temple Hiatt [Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America]
Chair Zaun & Members of the SubcommitteeThank you for considering public comments as you hold a hearing on SJR 1. I hope you will reject this dangerous proposal.I am an Iowan and an Army Reserve veteran who served in the first Gulf War with the 320th Military Police. Prior to that, I served with the 339th Military Police in Davenport, Iowa. After the attempted coup at the United States Capitol Building, the FBI is warning of further armed demonstrations at the state Capitol in Des Moines. This moment calls for lawmakers to do more to prevent gun violence, rather than undermining Iowas gun safety laws. I fully support the 2nd Amendment. Unfortunately, this proposal is NOT the 2nd Amendment. With language that reads any and all restrictions, this is much more extreme. If strict scrutiny is applied to any and all restrictions this could remove public safety measures that the majority of Iowans support, such as background checks on handgun sales and permitting for concealed carry. I dont want convicted felons to have guns and I dont want guns on school grounds. This amendment will put all of that in jeopardy, with Iowa taxpayers funding all of the lawsuits filed by criminal defendants and extremists with criminal histories. Only three states have enacted strict scrutiny laws, and Iowa should not be the fourth. Respectfully submitted,Temple Hiatt
Tom Chapman [Iowa Catholic Conference]
The Iowa Catholic Conference is registered against SJR 1, which would restrict the states ability to regulate weapons in the future. We believe the strict scrutiny language might put current regulation in jeopardy, such as our background check and permit requirements. We think these decisions are best left to the legislature.
Julie Kearney 
I understand it took all of 15 minutes for the Iowa legislature to pass this bill to subcommittee. Is that careful consideration for a bill to make it easier to put guns in the hands of those who are a threat to themselves and/or to others? Is that the time it takes to ponder the wisdom of allowing more people to participate in armed insurrection against our democracy? Is that how long it takes to stop and consider that this bill IS NOT the will of the people of Iowa? Im asking the subcommittee to take their responsibility seriously to truly understand the impact of this bill and choose to end its consideration in the state of Iowa.
Elizabeth O'Hara 
To: Iowa Senate Judiciary Subcommittee: Im writing to express my opposition to SJR 1, and my great concern at the way its sponsors have sought to rush the adoption of a constitutional amendment with so little public discussion (as we saw at the House Public Safety Subcommittee on 1/19). This proposed constitutional amendment is being misrepresented as simply enshrining the federal Second Amendment in Iowas Constitution. I support the Second Amendment. SJR 1 is NOT the Second Amendment, and it is not what the majority of Iowa voters want, as recent polls have demonstrated.When conservative icon Antonin Scalia wrote the majority opinion in the 2008 Supreme Court decision (District of Columbia v. Heller) that the Second Amendment protects the individual right to possess and carry handguns in ones homes for selfdefense, he made clear that nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms. This should be a relief to the majority of Iowans, including a majority of gun owners, who support permit regulations, universal background checks, and other sensible gun restrictions. Apparently the National Rifle Association, which authored this dangerous bill, begs to differ. In their version of the Second Amendment, any and all infringements on the right to bear arms will be subject to strict scrutiny by the courts. The future of Iowas sensible gun laws is an open question. Only three states have adopted the NRAs version of the Second Amendment. Iowa should not be the fourth.
Francoise Gourronc 
Hello SenatorsMy name is Francoise Gourronc and I am writing to you because I am standing against SJR1.If you support this bill you will made it clear that you value the right to bear arm more than the right to vote.During the last assembly you decided to block HJR14 a proposition to restore voting rights to former felon. Here with this bill, I can understand that you will allow the same persons to have easier access to guns. Allow me to point to the irony of the situation.With gun ownership comes great responsibilities that are never addressed. This bill disrespect the victims of gun violence, ignore gun owner with mental illness, children who have crosspath with careless gun owners, police officers who will have to defend us from overzealous shooters, this is just a short list.You have already all the rights you need to own guns and it is covered by the US Constitution, nobody is going to take your guns away.Thank you for reading me
Nicole Kosby 
Background checks save lives it is the bare minimum we can do to protect the children and people of Iowa. The fact that this legislation was written at a time when people are struggling most with mental and physical health due to a worldwide pandemic speaks to the ridiculousness of your priorities.
Tanya Keith 
I'm writing in opposition to the strict scrutiny bill for amendment. As a mother and community advocate, we want more safety and more oversight on gun ownership. We should have gun licensing and registration like we do for cars. Please do things to protect Iowans like sensible gun control. And wearing masks.
Michelle Henderson 
I am writing to oppose adding Strict Scrutiny to our state constitution. It has no place around the 2nd amendment. I am for the 2nd amendment but as we have shown as a state; there are times when limitations need to be put in place. Strict scrutiny makes any current or future gun safety laws difficult to pass or defend in court. Also, Missouri (one of the very few states with Struct scrutiny added to the 2nd amendment) has seen many court cases based on strict scrutiny which has cost the state millions of dollars to defend in court. Why do we need to cost tax payers money to defend gun safety laws that are in the books or new legislation that may need to pass in the future?If you are a legislator that is concerned with the state budget, passing a constitutional amendment with strict scrutiny is not a sound choice.
Carolyn Suggett 
The attack on the Capital Jan. 6 should show that our gun laws have not provided us with the protection all citizens should have. The Second Amendment is an amendment it is not a commandment to allow anybody to go out and buy guns without restrictions or limitations .
Linda Louko 
I am totally opposed to this bill that allows for an amendment to the Iowa constitution. I am opposed to allowing strict scrutiny to be included in the constitution!!
Lenore Holte 
I am an Iowa wife, mother and grandmother. I am writing to express my opposition to the proposed strict scrutiny amendment to the Iowa constitution. This dangerous step would lead courts to strike down the few public safety guarantees Iowa currently has against gun violence. It could put too many guns in the hands of dangerous people in our state. In addition, this is not even what Iowans want! Twothirds of Iowans oppose amending the constitution to undermine gun safety laws, according to polling data from 2020. Given the events of the last few weeks, we need our lawmakers to make us safer, not less safe. Do the right thing and stop this radical amendment.
PAMELA VOGT 
In this time of unrest and chaos, the last thing you should be doing is changing the Iowa constitution that would force courts to strike down our public safety laws. You should be doing more to PREVENT gun violence, not undermining current gun laws that keep guns out of the hands of extremists with criminal histories. O strongly opposed this amendment.
Hope Johnson 
Iowa should not become only the the fourth state in the nation that takes such an action. It is a dangerous attempt to undermine Iowas reasonable, popular public safety laws, and it would be a truly extreme, farreaching change to our constitution. The truth is that the language in this amendment poses a direct threat to Iowa public safety laws that protect our communities by keeping guns out of the hands of people who we all agree shouldnt have them.
Clare Smith-Larson 
This legislation is against everything that mom's across this nation cherish. Safety of kids should come first and foremost in the laws of the state of Iowa, not the rights of gunowners, sellers, or shooters.
T Deal 
With nearly 70% of people in Iowa in favor of keeping background checks and other gun safety measures, this proposed amendment would surely make a lot of people unhappy and Iowa much less safe. Iowa has a very large per capita rate of gun ownership but because of Common sense gun laws on the books Iowa is a very safe place in terms of gun related incidentsPassing an amendment like this strict scrutiny law would undermine our states safety.
Vanessa Phelan 
I am a resident of Des Moines and I am opposed to the strict scrutiny language in this legislation. Such language could lead to guns getting into the hands of the wrong people, including domestic abusers or convicted felons. In 2016, 2 police officers were murdered, one about a mile from our house. The murderer was reported for domestic violence by his mother. When people like this are allowed to have guns, women, children, and police officers get hurt. I would prefer that you work on closing loopholes in background checks rather than add language to the constitution that could tear up the system background checks. I am also very concerned about making it easier for people with mental illness to gain access to weapons when they are most vulnerable. Suicide by gun is a major problem in our state. I fear this proposal would end the few gun safety measures we have.
Janet Rosenbury [Iowans for Gun Safety]
Please oppose SJR 1 that adds a gun amendment to the Iowa Constitution that states any and all restrictions of this right shall be subject to STRICT SCRUTINY. Strict Scrutiny would require the highest standard for Iowas Gun safety laws and any gun legislation may be subject to costly court processes. Only three states (Alabama, Missouri and Louisiana) have included NRApushed strict scrutiny language in their gun rights amendments. Gun deaths in Missouri have increased since the bill was passed. 70% of voters in Iowa do not support amending the constitution to undermine Iowas gun laws. Please oppose SJR 1.
Erica Fletcher [Moms Demand Action]
Chair Holt & Members of the SubcommitteeThank you for the opportunity to submit public comments as you consider HSB 9. I am writing urging you to reject this dangerous proposal.I am the mother of 2 young boys and a health care worker who has been watching the COVID pandemic play out first hand. When our legislature returned to session, I was watching for legislation to deal with the COVID pandemic and its economic ramifications. But instead of leading with legislation that would make our communities safer, legislative leaders have introduced this truly extreme, farreaching proposed change to our constitution. Iowa has a strong heritage of responsible gun ownership. Ive been a gun owner my entire life I grew up with guns, Im a twicedeployed Army veteran, and I own guns now. But this proposed constitutional amendment does not honor Iowas heritage of responsible gun ownership. Only three states have enacted strict scrutiny laws, and Iowa should not be the fourth. Under strict scrutiny courts could potentially eliminate laws that protect our communities like the law that prohibits convicted felons from having guns, and the background check requirements that ensure those prohibited purchasers cant legally purchase handguns in our state. I lived in Missouri for 10 years and watched as the gun violence there got worse and worse after they enacted a similar strict scrutiny constitutional amendment. I didnt decide to raise my boys in Iowa, hoping that it would become the next Missouri. I want a life free from gun violence for my children and know most Iowans feel the same. Please vote no on this extreme proposal.Erica FletcherJohnston, IA
Kay Marcel 
Gun violence prevention is more important than ever in the 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. Lawmakers must do more to protect Iowans by rejecting dangerous legislation that would undermine public safety laws. Passing a strict scrutiny amendment to the Iowa constitution would force courts to use a type of judicial analysis that is likely to lead to them striking down Iowas bedrock public safety laws. Laws that prohibit convicted felons and domestic abusers from having guns, and the background check requirements that ensure those prohibited purchasers cant legally purchase guns.The proposed constitutional amendment comes as the FBI is warning of further armed demonstrations at the state Capitol in Des Moines after last weeks 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.
Rick Widman 
On January 6, our democracy and the lives of our elected officials in Washington DC were threatened by armed domestic terrorists.We must resolve the problem of domestic terrorism and prevent radical individuals from causing gun violence.This amendment should not be approved.
Brenda Schumann 
The US constitution gives the people in the US including Iowa the right to keep and bear arms so I think the current legislative session has more important things to address such as the pandemic. If the second amendment is added to the Iowa Constitution it should not include "strict scrutiny". Adding that may nullify the gun safety measures Iowa has such as keeping convicted felons from owning guns or requiring background checks.
Kaleigh Rogers 
I am writing in opposition to SJR1. This amendment to the Constitution would be dangerous to public safety due to the Strict Scrutiny clause. This would make it difficult to create better or even uphold current gun safety laws. As a mom and a social worker, I care deeply about our (and especially our children's!) safety. I see the toll domestic violence takes on families every day and the thought of domestic abusers being able to challenge the laws that keep them from owning firearms is terrifying. A domestic abuser is 5 times more likely to kill their partner if they have access to a firearm. We cannot risk legislation that could put a firearm back in their hands.
Susan Jacobi 
I am writing to express my opposition to introduction of a strict scrutiny amendment to the Iowa constitutionSJR 1. This amendment will pose a threat to the reasonable public safety laws that protect our communities, including laws prohibiting gun possession by felons and domestic abusers, as well as background check requirements. As a child growing up in smalltown Iowa, I did not have concerns about gun violence. Much has changed since then, and sadly my own children have grown up learning about gun violence as a common occurrence. We should be striving to make our communities saferthis amendment does NOT work toward that goal.
MARK MAXWELL [ABATE of IOWA]
We supported this bill last session, and we continue to support it! We don't fear good people with guns! We believe the citizens of Iowa deserve to vote on this issue.
Laura Hessburg [Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence]
Senators Zaun, Bisignano, Schultz:The Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence (ICADV) represents 22 crime victim service provider agencies across Iowa and the collective experience of agency staff who dedicate their lives to supporting victims of violent crime, specifically survivors of domestic violence and sexual abuse. Our direct service providers routinely witness the pain and suffering of crime victims, as well as their stunning resilience in surviving repeated violent acts (often over the course of months and years), inflicted on their minds and bodies by people they know and care about. ICADV urges you to oppose SJR 1, a constitutional amendment adding gun rights to the Iowa Constitution with a strict scrutiny judicial review standard. We believe this amendment undermines every existing or future sensible gun safety policy. Americas level of gun violence threatens public safety, and we urge legislators to halt further efforts to advance this constitutional amendment proposal.As we become normalized to the regular pace of mass shootings and gun homicides in our communities and come to grips with the reality that twothirds of all gun deaths are gun suicides, discussion to further expand access to guns present a false choice. Access to guns and gun rights for lawabiding citizens are not threatened in Iowa. You can be in favor of gun rights AND be in favor of reasonable policies to protect people from gun violence. Strict scrutiny is the most demanding judicial standard applied to constitutional cases. It requires judges to assume a challenged law is unconstitutional until the state proves otherwise. Only three states (Alabama, Louisiana, Missouri) include the extreme strict scrutiny language under consideration in Iowa. The experience in these states indicates a strict scrutiny standard undermines gun safety laws due to persistent legal challenges that burden the justice system and are paid for by taxpayers. Gun deaths by suicide, by intimate partners in homes, and in criminal acts occurring every day in communities across America are most common but mass shootings offer powerful illustration of the terror and toll of gun violence. The link between guns and domestic abuse homicide is so definitive that the history of domestic abuse among individuals who carry out mass shootings is unsurprising.More men than women are killed by gun violence, except when it comes to domestic violence incidents where women and children are significantly and disproportionately terrorized and killed when guns are present. Nearly half of female firearm homicide victims were killed by an intimate partner. Access to a gun makes it five times more likely that an abusive partner will kill his female victim and when that happens guns are the cause of death for 70% of bystanders killed in domestic abuse incidents. And women in communities of color face a disproportionate share of the burden nationally, Black women are twice as likely to be fatally shot by an intimate partner compared to white women and younger Black women between ages 1834 are nearly three times more likely to be shot and killed by an intimate partner than are white women in same age group. Importantly, for every case of domestic abuse homicide, there are many more cases where women and children are held hostage and terrorized with guns. For example, the abusive partner who never fires the gun, but threatens a partner with it by pointing it at the children, waving it around during an argument, or shooting a family pet. Experience and research offer numerous examples of policies that work to protect people from gun violence and overwhelming majorities of Americans support these policies. We are moving in the opposite direction in Iowa. As a modern society we balance individual rights with public safety and community interest all the time. In the face of overwhelming evidence confirming Americas uniquely shameful gun violence problem, gun rights should be no exception. The gun rights constitutional amendment proposal with strict scrutiny language advancing in Iowa would undermine all efforts to enact sensible restrictions on firearms access and could open the door for current gun safety laws to be challenged. Please oppose SJR 1.Attachment
Rebecca Truszkowski 
I am a lifetime Iowan, a wife and mother of two. I am writing in opposition to SJR1. Adding a "strict scrutiny" amendment to the Iowa constitution would undermine Iowa's reasonable, popular public safety laws, and would be a truly extreme, farreaching change. The truth is that the language in this amendment poses a direct threat to Iowa public safety laws that protect our communities by keeping guns out of the hands of people who we all agree should't have them.
Joseph Truszkowski 
I am a resident of Johnson County and have practiced medicine in Iowa for over twenty years. While I support the right to bear arms, I firmly believe that we must have responsible gun safety laws in place. By adding a strict scrutiny amendment to the Iowa constitution, lawmakers would be forcing courts to use a type of judicial analysis likely to lead to them striking down Iowas public safety laws. I therefore oppose SJR1. Thank you for your consideration.
Traci Kennedy 
Thank you for accepting public comments as you consider SJR1. Im writing to you today as a mom of two young children and a gun owner to express my opposition to this proposal.My growing family moved to Iowa because we felt our values would be better represented than in our former home in Missouri. Like many Iowans, I want to do all I can to keep my family safe, which is why Im deeply concerned that instead of pursuing common sense solutions to gun violence, the committee is considering an extreme attempt to amend the Iowa constitution and threaten our bedrock public safety laws. The overwhelming number of Iowans, your constituents, support commonsense public safety laws, like the background check requirement for handgun sales. Please vote no on this radical and unnecessary strict scrutiny measure that would threaten the public safety laws that keep our communities safe.Attachment
Ingrid Madsen 
Regarding strict scrutiny... I am very concerned about violent felons being able to legally buy, own, and use guns. Will any Iowan, regardless of age, be able to buy, own, and use guns? Are there current laws restricting a class or group of people from owning a gun who should be able to own a gun? How does the safety of all Iowans factor into strict scrutiny and the lifting of all gun safety legislation? Doesn't the 2nd Amendment protect a citizens constitutional right to keep and bear arms? Would the subcommittee clarify the objective and discuss unintended consequences (all legislation has unintended consequences)? Thank You
William Schoenenberger 
I am a veteran, 21 months in Viet Nam. Know all too well how destructive assault weapons are. I am a gun owner, still have the .22 I bought with paper route money when 9. I am against this amendment. As Scalia write in Heller, people have a right to own guns but local governments can place restrictions. This amendment is designed to prevent that ability. Remove the "severe" language. If you think Iowa needs a Second Amendment statement in the Iowa constitution then copy that language and don't add anything.
Lori Durian 
I am strongly opposed to SJR1. This amendment goes beyond the Federal second amendment and will make it impossible for the legislature to pass any gun violence prevention legislation like requiring background checks on all gun sales or prohibiting convicted felons and those convicted of domestic violence from obtaining a gun. The absence of gun violence prevention legislation puts the lives of all of your constituents at risk.
Rachel Cole 
I object to the inclusion of "strict scrutiny" language. This language opens the state up to lawsuits, wasting money and possible striking down common sense gun laws that the majority of people support, such as background checks. This has already happened in other states! There is absolutely no reason to include this language. It will make our state poorer and less safe!
Kathleen Cave 
I strongly oppose this change to the constitution of the state of Iowa. I can see no benefit to reducing the few controls on gun ownership. I have no desire to eliminate gun ownership; I own a gun.
Carolyn Suggett 
Vote NO on SJR 1
Brenda Schumann 
I oppose adding strict scrutiny to the Iowa constitution. The US Second Amendment gives Iowa the right to bear arms so I think spending time on this when the pandemic is showing so many other problems that the legislature should be covering is not a wise use of time. However if you feel Iowa needs the Second Amendment in our constitution, add it without strict scrutiny. Strict scrutiny could undo a lot of common sense rules that keep Iowans safer. For my safety and my children and grandchildrens safety I want responsible gun ownership.