New gun rights bills imminent under amended Iowa Constitution

One month after Iowans voted to add the right to bear arms to the Iowa Constitution, a key Republican lawmaker says he plans to propose new gun rights laws.

House Majority Leader Matt Windschitl, a Republican and frequent leader on firearms legislation, said there are several proposals under consideration "to restore freedoms in Iowa."

"There are multiple different things that we've been trying to get done to restore freedoms in Iowa, and we've not been able to get across the finish line on some of those things," Windschitl told reporters Friday. "I'm not at a point right now where I'm going to discuss publicly what all those items are."

Richard Rogers, president of the Iowa Firearms Coalition, also declined to share specific legislation he hopes to see in 2023.

"There are items that we have left on the table in years past that we will seek to move again," Rogers said.

The Legislature will be will be working under a newly-amended state constitution during the 2023 session. Nearly two-thirds of Iowans, 65.2%, voted to add an amendment that puts the right "to keep and bear arms" into the Iowa Constitution and introduces a higher legal hurdle for any laws that would restrict that right.

The language of the amendment states: "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."

When asked if the lawmakers have plans to address gun violence, Windschitl replied the issue was the "person behind (the gun) that is seeking to do harm."

"If there are ways that we can do more education and trying to find ways to help folks that have mental health issues that are seeking to do violence, then yes, we will explore those options," he said.

Rep. Steven Holt, R-Denison, said conversations about reducing gun violence should focus on family values.

"What is happening to our country in terms of values?" Holt said. "And what is happening to our families that is leading to this?"

House Democrats did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday afternoon.

Iowa lawmakers passed a sweeping law in 2021 that allowed Iowans to buy and carry handguns without first getting a permit. Advocates of the bill call it "constitutional carry," while opponents argue the law rolled back background checks.

From 2021New Iowa gun law allowing permitless handgun carry, purchase takes effect today. Here's what changes

Katie Akin is a politics reporter for the Register. Reach her at kakin@registermedia.com or at 410-340-3440. Follow her on Twitter at @katie_akin.

This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: Iowa House poised to remove gun restrictions in 2023