Pro-gun laws are important. Not just for gun rights activists, but society in general. More guns tend to lead to less crime, providing even non-gun owners with a kind of herd immunity against crime.
Despite that, we always have a tough fight on our hands whenever a new pro-gun law is proposed. It’s more of an issue when we’re talking an amendment to a state’s constitution.
So imagine how bad it sucks when a bureaucratic snafu derails a pro-gun amendment.
Actually, we don’t have to imagine. It’s happened.
Iowa’s top elections official acknowledged Monday that his office mistakenly derailed a long-sought plan to grant residents more expansive gun rights by forgetting to notify the public of the proposed constitutional amendment, as required. Secretary of State Paul Pate cited a “bureaucratic oversight” for his office’s failure to publish notice of the proposed amendment in newspapers before the November election, as required by the Iowa Constitution.
The mistake means supporters likely will have to restart the lengthy process for amending the state constitution and that the earliest the measure could be voted on in a statewide referendum would 2022, instead of 2020. The plan likely would be blocked if Democrats gain control of either legislative chamber before then.
“It’s really unfortunate,” Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds said, according to the Des Moines Register. Other supporters reacted with fury to the oversight by Pate, a Republican and lifetime member of the National Rifle Association who supported the proposed amendment.
They said they would review any legal options for seeking to fix the error but acknowledged that they would likely have to start again from scratch. “The amendment has been a priority for over a decade now and yes, this may be a monumental setback, but we will continue to press forward and try and get this on the ballot,” said state Rep. Matt Windschitl, a Republican sponsor of the proposed amendment who noted that his initial reaction to the oversight “wouldn’t be publishable.”
With the issue stemming from something out of the office of a pro-gun official who supported the measure, I can believe it was a mistake. Had this been because of something an anti-gun politician had done, I wouldn’t have believed it. Not in a million years.
The amendment would create a state level Second Amendment, complete with the whole “right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed” bit. It would also require any gun control to be subject to “strict scrutiny” during judicial review.
In other words, it was a damn good amendment.
That means the whole process will have to start all over again. With luck, the fact that it’s already passed once will make it a little easier to get through a second time around, but you never can count on that. How many lawmakers went home after the last session and got an earful from their constituents because they had the temerity to support the right to have and carry guns? It doesn’t take much to change the mind of a politician.
This is one that bears watching.