Cal. governor calls for constitutional amendment to limit gun access
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) — California Governor Gavin Newsom has announced his latest move in a campaign to enhance nationwide firearm safety measures, proposing another amendment to the U.S. Constitution to enshrine some gun control measures into law.
The governor said Thursday the proposed amendment would not affect the Second Amendment, but would guarantee universal background checks, raise the firearm purchase age to 21, institute a purchase waiting period and bar the civilian purchase of assault weapons.
“The 28th Amendment will enshrine in the Constitution common sense gun safety measures that Democrats, Republicans, Independents and gun owners overwhelmingly support -- while leaving the 2nd Amendment unchanged and respecting America’s gun-owning tradition,” Newsom said in a statement.
To pass the amendment, advocates would need to hold a convention to propose changes to the U.S. Constitution, also known as an Article V convention or amendatory convention. California would be the first state in the nation to call for such a convention, with a joint resolution introduced by California State Senator Aisha Wahab and Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer.
Newsom says he will work with grassroots supporters, elected and civic leaders and coalitions across the country to encourage passing similar resolutions in other state legislatures. It would take 33 other states to convene such a convention.
“A man of action, Governor Gavin Newsom has the backbone to actually do something about the gun fetish culture around weapons of war, and tackle the relentless problem of gun violence and mass shootings,” said Wahab. “As someone impacted by gun violence, I have an obligation to elevate the voices of victims and those of us left behind in the wake of tragedy.”
“We cannot stand idly while courts roll back our work and diminish the ability of our Legislature to keep Californians safe,” said Jones-Sawyer. “This bold but fair resolution calls on other states to join us in protecting some of the most effective ways of reducing gun violence.”
Opposition to the proposal also came swiftly Thursday from Assemblymember James Gallagher of Marysville, a frequent Newsom critic and state Assembly Republican leader.
“When your policy agenda results in widespread failures at home you have two choices: Admit your failures & adjust, distract & deflect,” Gallagher said in a tweet.
The governor’s administration and many Democrat state lawmakers have been pushing for change on gun safety in various forms for years – with varying degrees of success in the courts, particularly when up against the Supreme Court.
Senate Bill 918, which addressed issues flagged by the Supreme Court in New York Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen, and other gun control bills were heavily amended or killed outright in the recent legislative session. But Newsom signed other bills making it easier for Californians to sue manufacturers and distributors of illegal assault weapons, allowing lawsuits against irresponsible gun industry members, strengthening prohibitions on ghost guns and restricting marketing to minors.
In February, the governor presented new proposed legislation called Senate Bill 2 to enhance firearm licensing measures, set the minimum age to obtain a carrying license to 21, increasing training requirements and establishing community spaces where people can expect safety from gun violence.
California is ranked as the No. 1 state for gun safety by the Giffords Law Center, and now has a 37% lower gun death rate than the national average. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, California’s gun death rate was the 44th lowest in the nation, with 8.5 gun deaths per 100,000 people -- compared to 13.7 deaths per 100,000 nationally, 28.6 in Mississippi, 20.7 in Oklahoma, and 14.2 in Texas.