California Passes Resolution Calling For a Convention to Add Gun Control to US Constitution

California Passes Resolution Calling For a Convention to Add Gun Control to US Constitution

California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks during a press conference in Sacramento on Feb. 1, 2023. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Jill McLaughlin

Jill McLaughlin


Updated: 12/30/2023


The California Assembly voted on Sept. 14 in favor of supporting Gov. Gavin Newsom’s call for a national constitutional convention to add his gun control measures to the U.S. Constitution with a 28th amendment.
The body approved Senate Joint Resolution 7 in a vote of 53–17 along party lines, with 10 members abstaining, after the state Senate voted on Sept. 6 to pass the measure on a 24–11 vote, with five abstentions.
Mr. Newsom’s proposal, announced in June, would leave the Second Amendment unchanged but would add mandated universal background checks, raise the firearm purchase age from 18 to 21, institute a firearm purchase waiting period, and prohibit civilians from buying “assault weapons” and other “weapons of war.”
The governor’s gun control measures would be added in a new amendment.
“The Right to Safety Amendment would preserve the integrity of the Second Amendment, while enshrining in our Constitution common-sense safety provisions that are supported overwhelmingly by the American people,” Mr. Newsom said in a Sept. 15 statement. “This action is even more urgent as radical judges use a warped interpretation of our Constitution to roll back gun safety laws in California, and across the country.”
The U.S. Supreme Court and judges in California—whom he called “radical” and “unelected judges”—have restricted the governor from enacting similar measures in the state.
“In the face of decades of congressional inaction and unelected judges that are putting Americans in danger, it is time for citizens to stand up for common sense to protect us against the uniquely American epidemic of gun violence,” Mr. Newsom said.
The resolution doesn’t require approval by the governor.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks during a press conference in Sacramento, Calif., on Feb. 1, 2023. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks during a press conference in Sacramento, Calif., on Feb. 1, 2023. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Convening a constitutional convention is unlikely. It would require either approval by two-thirds of both houses of Congress or two-thirds of state legislatures—34 of them, according to Article V of the U.S. Constitution.
Co-sponsor of the resolution Assemblyman Reginald Jones-Sawyer, a Democrat, said the resolution was crafted in a way that restricts the constitutional convention to discuss only California’s gun control measures. If that changes, the state’s call for a convention would be voided, he said.
Some Democratic members of the Legislature were concerned that a constitutional convention could be expanded to add other amendments, such as addressing right-to-life issues.
“With the support of the people across all political ideologies, who overwhelmingly support these measures, we can and will get this done,” Mr. Jones-Sawyer said on the Assembly floor on Sept. 14.
Republican Assemblyman Tom Lackey, of Palmdale, California, a retired California Highway Patrol sergeant who served for 28 years, called the resolution flawed.
“A gun is a tool, and a tool is only as dangerous as the individual wielding it,” Mr. Lackey said before the vote. “California’s approach to gun control is far from perfect, and I think we should be less prescriptive about how we fix a problem nationally that we haven’t fixed in our own cities and counties. I hope that in the future, we can be a little more open-minded about actually addressing the root causes about violent acts committed with firearms.”
The National Rifle Association (NRA), the nation’s largest advocacy group for gun owners, called Mr. Newsom’s proposal “incoherent” and a “tact to garner national attention for himself,” in a June 12 response to its announcement.
Many political experts are expecting the governor to run for president in the 2024 Democratic primary, although Mr. Newsom has denied his intention to seek the office.
The NRA also pointed out that any amendment proposed at a constitutional convention would have to be ratified by three-fourths of the country’s state legislatures, which is unlikely as Republicans control 22 states and Democrats 17. Political majorities are split in the remaining 10 states, and Nebraska is nonpartisan.
“That sort of state-generated constitutional action has NEVER occurred on ANY issue during the entire history of the U.S.,” the NRA wrote in a response to Mr. Newsom’s announcement about the gun control measures in June. “It certainly won’t occur on one of the most divisive issues in modern politics.”
People stand in line outside the Martin B. Retting gun store in Culver City, Calif., on March 15, 2020. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

People stand in line outside the Martin B. Retting gun store in Culver City, Calif., on March 15, 2020. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

A slew of other gun control measures also recently passed the Legislature and await Mr. Newsom’s signature before becoming law, including the following:
Senate Bill 2 creates new criteria for citizens to obtain permits to carry concealed firearms. The bill was crafted in response to a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision invalidating a concealed carry law in New York that included similar restrictions to those in California’s law requiring applicants to justify why they needed the permit. SB 2 increases the number of “gun-free zones” and adds requirements to apply for a permit, including allowing county sheriffs to disqualify an applicant, and raises the age of permit holders to 21 and older. The law also makes it a crime to bring a firearm, loaded or unloaded, to the grounds of, or inside, the governor’s mansion and the residence of any other elected official or any member of the Legislature. It also prohibits anyone from carrying a firearm at an airport or transit facility.
Senate Bill 241 mandates that licensed firearm dealers and their employees complete an annual training program developed by the state’s Department of Justice.
Senate Bill 368 mandates that licensed firearm dealers offer storage services for firearm owners during times of crisis and requires dealers to report those in storage to the federal Department of Justice, prohibits firearm dealers from offering firearms in raffles and other games of chance and makes it a misdemeanor to do so, and expands the category of people subject to the 10-year firearm ban if convicted of a misdemeanor.
Senate Bill 377 requires law enforcement purchasing personal firearms to undergo the same 10-day waiting period and follow the same restrictions of the state’s allowable handgun list as private citizens.
Assembly Bill 28 adds an 11-percent excise tax on the sales price of all firearms, firearm precursor parts, and ammunition in the state. Revenue generated by the tax will be placed in a newly created state “gun violence” fund for appropriation by the state Legislature.
Assembly Bill 574 requires gun owners to affirm during a firearm purchase that they have checked and confirmed possession of every firearm they own or possess within the past 30 days.
“This requirement runs contrary to the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and is an additional burden for gun owners, especially those with firearms stored in multiple residences or in safe deposit boxes, that can make them ineligible to purchase another firearm until they visit all of those locations,” the NRA said in a statement.
Assembly Bill 725 expands California’s one-size-fits-all reporting mandate for lost or stolen firearms to also include gun parts. Californians could face criminal penalties if they don’t report the loss or theft of a frame or receiver, which are firearm components.
Assembly Bill 732 reduces the amount of time a defendant, after release from custody, has to relinquish a firearm following a conviction from five days to 48 hours and requires the state’s Department of Justice to provide local law enforcement agencies and district attorneys a monthly report of those who haven’t done so.
Assembly Bill 733 prohibits state and local governments from selling surplus firearms, ammunition, and body armor.
Assembly Bill 1089 expands California’s ban on ghost guns, or those that are untraceable and can be bought online or assembled at home.
Assembly Bill 1483 expands California’s one-gun-per-month purchase rule to include private-party transfers.
Jill McLaughlin

Jill McLaughlin


Jill McLaughlin is an award-winning journalist covering politics, environment, and statewide issues. She has been a reporter and editor for newspapers in Oregon, Nevada, and New Mexico. Jill was born in Yosemite National Park and enjoys the majestic outdoors, traveling, golfing, and hiking.

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