Gun laws are on the midterm ballots in these states
(NEXSTAR) — In the wake of several mass shootings this year and in years past, gun legislation remains a key issue for many voters going into the midterm election this year. While federal lawmakers passed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act back in June, the legislation still leaves many gaps for states to fill in with their own regulations — or not.
By and large, gun legislation isn’t on the ballot for most states in 2022. At least not directly. For instance, in Texas — where the third-deadliest school shooting in history happened earlier this year — voters will decide between incumbent Gov. Greg Abbott (R) and his Democratic challenger, Beto O’Rourke. Abbott has been criticized for his positions on gun ownership — including signing permitless carry into law — and O’Rourke has vowed to repeal the law should he win.
While decisions on guns will be less obvious for most voters, in two specific states, the choices will be right on the ballot.
If passed, Iowa Amendment 1, known as the Right to Keep and Bear Arms Amendment, would amend Iowa’s constitution to include a section explicitly stating that “any and all restrictions” on gun ownership will be “subject to strict scrutiny” by a court. The amendment’s sponsor is Republican State Rep. Steven Holt, who (in addition to its supporters) argues that cementing the right to keep and bear arms — which Iowa’s constitution doesn’t currently contain — would protect gun owners and is in line with the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Meanwhile, Iowan opponents argue that the “strict scrutiny” language of the amendment could insulate future legislation (and cause overturns of previous court rulings) regulating gun ownership. Additionally, the “strict scrutiny” dictates to courts how they should be doing their jobs, detractors argue.
An October poll conducted by the Des Moines Register showed 58% of likely voters said they would vote “yes” on adding the section to the state’s constitution.
Initiative 17, known as the Reduction of Gun Violence Act, would require prospective gun purchasers to qualify for permits before getting them. The initiative would also prohibit ammunition magazines over 10 rounds and would require police to maintain a database of all permits and firearms.
Nexstar’s KOIN, located in Portland, reports the interfaith nonprofit Lift Every Voice Oregon worked to help get the initiative on the ballot in November, helping it gather well over the 112,000 signatures for approval.
An August poll by nonpartisan Pew Research Center found gun policy was the second-most important issue for voters polled going into the midterms. About 62% of registered voters said gun policy came behind economic policy (77%) for November.
Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 8.
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