Gun rights supporters have been fighting for years to amend the Iowa state constitution to recognize and protect the right to keep and bear arms. They’ve been pushing to add the following language:
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 process for amending the Iowa constitution is, by design, a heavy lift. A resolution supporting an amendment has to pass the legislature twice, in two separate sessions and then go before the voters.
After much debate and apocalyptic predictions by opponents, the first hurdle for the gun rights amendment was cleared when a resolution to add that language to the constitution passed both houses of the Iowa legislature in March by wide margins.
Step two required the resolution to be passed a second time by the next legislature with the goal of getting it on the 2020 ballot. To do that, notice of the resolution had to published in state newspapers in advance of the legislative session.
Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate confirmed to the Des Moines Register on Sunday night that his office failed to meet a key requirement that would have advanced a resolution first passed in the Legislature last year, which cleared the first of several hurdles required to amend the Iowa Constitution.
“Due to a bureaucratic oversight, my office failed to publish the required notifications in Iowa newspapers of two continuing resolutions passed by the Iowa Legislature last year. I accept full responsibility for this oversight and offer my sincerest apology to the legislators and supporters who worked so hard on these bills,” Pate said in a statement.
Oops. The screw-up is a huge setback for the gun rights effort. Supporters will now have to start over from the beginning of the process.
“It’s really unfortunate,” Gov. Kim Reynolds said Monday morning.
“We’ll do what we need to do to make it right,” the Republican governor said. “They’re still working through what that looks like.”
What it looks like, Governor, is bureaucratic functionaries doing what bureaucratic functionaries do with all the efficiency and competence we’ve come to expect of big government. The same functionaries to whom we’re asked to entrust the protection of our civil rights. The same functionaries who, in other states and at the national level, work tirelessly to limit those rights.
That’s what it looks like, Governor.