A proposed amendment to the Iowa constitution on gun rights has cleared one hurdle in the Iowa House, but it’s the first of many required steps before the constitution could be changed.

The proposed amendment states that Iowans have a “fundamental right…to acquire, keep, possess, transport, carry, transfer and use” firearms for “legitimate purposes.” It also indicates courts should strictly scrutinize any attempt to regulate guns.

Republican Representative Matt Windschitl of Missouri Valley is one of the amendment’s key backers. “The proposal before us is to put Second Amendment protections into our state constitution if the voters so choose once this gets on the ballot,” Windschitl said during a House subcommittee hearing yesterday.

Amending the state constitution isn’t done quickly. The Iowa House and Seante would have to approve this specific language this year and then again sometime in the next two years before it would be submitted to voters in the 2020 election.

Richard Rogers of the Iowa Firearms Coalition said Iowa is one of only six states that does not have gun rights spelled out in its constitution.

“This simple amendment will ensure that these basic rights are protected for future generations and will not be affected by shifting and transitory political winds,” Rogers said.

Tom Chapman, executive director of the Iowa Catholic Conference, said people have a right to defend themselves, but the church opposes this amendment.

“The bishops have been very strong advocates for regulation of firearms in the past and we’re concerned that this amendment, if it becomes part of our constitution, would make it very difficult to have any future regulation,” Chapman said.

Chapman said it could also lead courts to overturn current regulations. Connie Ryan of the Interfaith Alliance of Iowa agreed.

“We simply believe that it opens up a whole new can of worms of what we’re talking about in the state of Iowa,” Ryan said.

Supporters of the amendment dispute the idea it could un-due current regulations. They poitn to a case in Missouri, where a similar amendment was just passed, and where a felon lost his lawsuit to regain his gun rights.