Gun-rights advocates in Iowa have cause for celebration tonight.
Voters have officially approved Amendment 1 by a margin of 65.5 percent to 34.5 percent, according to the Associated Press. The measure will add language to the Iowa state constitution guaranteeing an individual right to keep and bear arms. It also imposes a heightened standard of review for judges faced with challenges to gun-control measures.
“The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. The sovereign state of Iowa affirms and recognizes this right to be a fundamental individual right. Any and all restrictions of this right shall be subject to strict scrutiny,” the added language reads.
The vote will make Iowa the 45th state to enshrine a right to keep in bear arms in its state constitution. Only California, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, and New York do not have an analogous provision to the Second Amendment in their respective state constitutions. It is another positive indicator for gun-rights advocates in the midterm elections, alongside wins for Republican governors in Texas and Georgia.
Strict scrutiny is the highest standard of review used by courts to evaluate the legality of a government action that burdens a constitutional right. To pass strict scrutiny, the government must demonstrate that a given law furthers a “compelling governmental interest.” It must also show that the law is “narrowly tailored” to achieve that interest.
The standard has long been sought after by gun-rights advocates who have been dissatisfied with the use of the more permissive intermediate scrutiny standard by judges in most gun cases in recent years.
The Supreme Court addressed this complaint in its landmark ruling in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen. In that decision, the court ultimately did away with tiers of scrutiny in Second Amendment cases. Instead, the Court said if a challenged law implicates the plain text of the Second Amendment, a government defending the restriction must demonstrate that it is in line with the nation’s historical tradition of gun regulation.
The effort to enact strict scrutiny in Iowa predates the Supreme Court’s ruling in Bruen. It will only apply to state courts in Iowa.