Brad Zaun

Thirty-four state senators have joined 54 members of the Iowa House in voting for a resolution that ultimately could add a gun rights amendment to the Iowa Constitution.

The same proposal must pass the legislature again in 2019 or 2020 before it could be presented to voters who decide whether amendments are added to the state constitution. Senator Brad Zaun, a Republican from Urbandale, said during today’s debate that this is a “very, very important” issue to him.

“I am trying to protect, at the highest level, our Second Amendment rights,” Zaun said.

Senator Matt McCoy, a Democrat from Des Moines, said backers of the proposal are “completely tone deaf” to public opinion.

“Across America people have been dealing with the impact of a school shooting,” McCoy said. “Tonight, it’s as if we’re preparing for the zombie apocolypse.”

McCoy was among 15 senators who voted no. Critics argued the proposal’s call for courts to use “strict scrutiny” when reviewing gun laws would lead to upending reasonable gun regulations.

“We’ve gone to the extreme of our the right to bear arms. We’re having multiple murders in our schools. People have thousands of rounds of ammunition,” said Senator Tony Bisignano (biz-ihg-NAN-noh), a Democrat from Des Moines, who called the proposed amendment “simply ridiculous.”

Senator Jason Schultz, a Republican from Schleswig, said the proposal probably doesn’t go as far as “James Madison, the father of the Bill of Rights,” would go were he alive today.

“I would imagine that when he wrote ‘shall not be infringed,’ he meant higher than ‘strict scrutiny,'” Schultz said. “That he meant zero tolerance. That he said: ‘Hands off. Get away from our weapons. The law-abiding shall not be hampered in their ability to possess…arms.'”

Schultz and other Republicans in the Senate rejected the idea of putting the language of the Second Amendment from the U.S. Constitution in Iowa’s Constitution. Instead, the more expansive language approved in the Iowa House this past Monday is what won Senate approval tonight.