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Iowa House panel adopts gun rights language, but not what backers wanted

James Q. Lynch, The Gazette –

DES MOINES – A constitutional amendment protecting Iowans right to bear arms was approved by a House committee, but it wasn’t the one supporters hoped for.

Sponsor Rep. Matt Windschitl. R-Missouri Valley, offered House Joint Resolution 2005 — a constitutional amendment that must be approved by two session of the Legislature and Iowa voters – that would provide Iowans a fundamental right to “acquire, keep, possess, transport, carry, transfer and use arms to defend life and liberty and for all other legitimate purposes.’’ It would prohibit mandatory licensing, registration and special taxation of firearms.

He told the House Public Safety Committee his amendment would be “precise in protecting” Iowans’ 2nd Amendment rights.

However, Rep. Rick Olson, D-Des Moines, offered an amendment that substituted the last 14 words of the 2nd Amendment: “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

Windschitl called it a dodge that wouldn’t fool backers of 2nd Amendment rights.

“What we’re trying to do is not uphold the U.S. Constitution (but) trying to get away from taking a politically tough vote,” he said about Olson’s amendment.

However, Public Safety Chairman Clel Baudler, R-Adair, argued that gun rights supporters have used those words to win U.S. Supreme Court victories in when they have challenged restrictive gun ordinances in Washington and Chicago.

“I cannot and will not vote against the U.S. Constitution,” Baudler said.

He was joined by two other Republican committee members, Reps. Dave Tjepkes of Gowrie and Gary Worthan of Storm Lake, in voting with Democrats to approve the amendment 11-10.

Windschitl promised to offer his wording when HJR 2005 comes to the House floor.

The Senate, so far, has shown little interest in taking up gun rights bills.

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