Iowa approves right to keep and bear arms amendment, Oregon gun control measure too close to call

Iowa approves right to keep and bear arms amendment, Oregon gun control measure too close to call
(AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

There were only two ballot measures dealing with gun ownership in this year’s midterms; a constitutional amendment in Iowa to enshrine the right to keep and bear arms in the state constitution, and a voter initiative in Oregon that would ban “large capacity” magazines and establish a “permit-to-purchase” system for all gun buyers. So far, Measure 114 in Oregon is too close to call, but the Iowa constitutional amendment isn’t close at all. In fact, with an estimated 98.5% of the vote counted, Amendment 1 is ahead by 30 points. That’s actually better than the 20-point margin I predicted, and the amendment is drawing even more support than Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds, who handily won re-election by 19 points.

As you can imagine, Second Amendment advocates in Iowa are thrilled with the results.

The Iowa Firearms Coalition President Dave Funk praised the approval of the ballot measure Tuesday evening, calling it a “historic day for freedom, civil rights and the Hawkeye state.”

At the Republican Party’s election night event in Des Moines, the crowd cheered as at television screen flashed news that voters approved the constitutionally amendment Tuesday night.

Adam Bentz, 44, of Ankeny, supported the measure. He said he is not a “gun nut.” He started hunting about a decade ago and owns “very few” guns. He also supports background checks for prospective owners.

“The constitution’s pretty clear,” he said, nursing a Busch Light as the crowd thinned out inside the Hilton Des Moines Downtown. “We have it spelled out. We have the right to bear arms. It just makes sense at the state level that we would have the right to bear arms as well.”

Opponents said the amendment would make it easier to strike down existing gun laws and make it harder to pass new regulations. The Iowans for Responsible Gun Laws called the amendment “reckless,” saying it would “only serve to put Iowans in harms’ way.”

“The potential consequences of this amendment’s passage, from expensive lawsuits in the Iowa courts to impacting current law and the safety of Iowans, will be far reaching and dire for our state,” the coalition wrote in a statement Tuesday evening.

With rhetoric like that as the basis for their argument, no wonder the amendment sailed to victory. Based on the vote totals, a fair number of Democrats ended up casting a vote in favor of Amendment 1, so this was a bipartisan victory for gun owners and a much bigger loss for the gun control lobby than they were anticipating.

It looks like we’re also seeing a little crossover vote on Measure 114 in Oregon, which is currently ahead by a little more than 9,000 votes out of more than 1.4-million cast, though whether it will be enough to defeat the measure is still an open question. At the moment Multnomah County is going for Measure 114 75-25, but there’s still almost 40% of the county’s anticipated vote that hasn’t been counted. We should get another batch of mail-in votes later today, and state law allows for ballots mailed on Election Day to be counted as long as they arrive by next Tuesday, so it could be some time before this race is officially called. At this point I’d say the measure is slightly favored for passage, but it’s going to be incredibly close with nowhere near the 80% or 90% approval that the gun control lobby likes to claim for its “reasonable” infringements on the right to keep and bear arms.

The Oregonian newspaper has already declared Measure 114 victorious based on the outstanding ballots in and around Portland, and the Oregon Firearms Federation is vowing to challenge the measure in court if it does go into effect.

Kevin Starrett, director of the firearms federation, has argued the measure violates the Second Amendment and will be challenged in court. He called it “impossible to comply with” and said it won’t have the desired impact.

Mass shooters will still be able to get their hands on the millions of large-capacity magazines now in circulation and not regulated elsewhere in the country, he said.

On the eve of Election Day, the firearms federation sent out an email to voters, calling the race a “tight one,” and urging them to “stop the worst gun grab in the country.”

State police and local sheriff’s offices have anticipated needing more staff to process the permit applications and conduct the background checks. State police also will need more staff to create and maintain a new database to track the number of annual permit applications, denials and reasons for denials.

The ballot measure is estimated to cost state and local governments $55 million in the first biennium and about $50 million for each successive biennium to administer, according to a state financial impact committee.

The revenue to local governments from permit fees is projected to be up to $19.5 million annually based on an estimated 300,000 applications per year.

I would have preferred to see Measure 114 go down to defeat last night, of course, but if the ballot initiative is enacted into law I suspect that court challenge will ultimately be victorious. And as the mandates in Measure 114 start to be enforced, I predict that many Oregonians who voted in favor of Measure 114 are going to be surprised and disappointed to learn of the devils in its details… as well as the unintended consequences of creating new criminal offenses out of a fundamental civil right.