Newsom’s Proposal to Call for Adding Gun Control to US Constitution Moves Forward

Newsom’s Proposal to Call for Adding Gun Control to US Constitution Moves Forward

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

Jill McLaughlin

Jill McLaughlin

8/31/2023

Updated: 12/30/2023

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The California Senate’s Public Safety Committee voted Aug. 29 to proceed with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposal to call for a constitutional convention to add gun control measures to the U.S. Constitution.
State senators on the committee voted 3–1 in favor of Senate Joint Resolution 7, authored by Sen. Aisha Wahab (D-Fremont), calling for a convention to consider and ultimately pass Mr. Newsom’s proposal to add a 28th Amendment to enshrine his gun control policies.
The measure now heads to the Senate Floor for a vote and then over to the Assembly.
The governor’s proposal, announced in June, would leave the Second Amendment unchanged but would add an amendment for universal background checks, raise the firearm purchase age from 18 to 21, and institute a firearm purchase waiting period.
He also wants to prohibit civilians from buying assault weapons, which he says “serve no other purpose than to kill as many people as possible in a short amount of time—weapons of war our nation’s founders never foresaw.”
“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 June 8 press statement.
Sen. Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh (R-Yucaipa), who is the state’s first Republican Latina state senator, voted against the resolution after sharing her family’s experience in Mexico.
“In Mexico, guns, for the average citizen, [are] outlawed,” Ms. Ochoa Bogh told the committee. “They are not allowed to have a gun. My grandfather actually hid a gun in his closet, and I remember seeing it as a kid.”
State Senator Rosicilie Ochoa Bogh joins other Republican lawmakers gathered at California's Capitol building to mark the 100th day since their Democratic peers promised gas price relief in Sacramento on June 15, 2022. (Courtesy of the California Republican Assembly Caucus)

State Senator Rosicilie Ochoa Bogh joins other Republican lawmakers gathered at California's Capitol building to mark the 100th day since their Democratic peers promised gas price relief in Sacramento on June 15, 2022. (Courtesy of the California Republican Assembly Caucus)

Drug cartels now have control over many small towns, she added.
“You think we have problems here? It is horrible in Mexico for many community members who are overwhelmingly suffering from carnage from cartels,” Ms. Ochoa Bogh said. “Cartels are overwhelmingly taking over many communities in Mexico and the average person cannot protect themselves. It doesn’t matter how many laws we have on the record. When we have evil people—when we have bad people—doing bad things, they could care less about the laws that we pass. It is only law-abiding people like you and me who follow the law who will become vulnerable.”
The resolution’s author, Ms. Wahab, said her father was murdered by gun violence and while she supported the Second Amendment, there had to be guardrails.
“Today, we have more guns in the United States than we have in the population of human beings,” Ms. Wahab said. “And at a certain point, we need to say we need to curb certain things. It is also people like myself who, because of a death of a loved one due to gun violence, their lives are changed forever.”
She added she was very proud of the governor’s bold stance on gun control but she wanted to “go further than thoughts and prayers in the U.S.”
Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) abstained from voting saying that although he is a consistent supporter of gun-safety measures and Newsom’s leadership, he could not support the measure because of the uncertainty of a constitutional convention.
“I am concerned what a constitutional convention could do, because we know the same extremists that have completely rewritten the Second Amendment would also like to rewrite reproductive health access, LGBTQ rights,” Mr. Wiener said. “They want to get rid of the separation of church and state. They want to undermine voting rights. For these reasons, I won’t be able to support this today.”
But some say, it is unlikely to get traction outside of the Golden State, prompting some to label the effort a publicity stunt.
Many have speculated Mr. Newsom, a progressive Democratic, may launch a bid for president in 2024, though he has denied such, telling the news organization Politico he would not challenge President Joe Biden.
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.
According to the association, what Mr. Newsom is really proposing is a “fundamental constitutional revolution” that would turn protection against government overreach into a tool for it to crack down on the people.
Gun rights advocates take part in a rally in Richmond, Virginia, on Jan. 20, 2020. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)

Gun rights advocates take part in a rally in Richmond, Virginia, on Jan. 20, 2020. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)

“That explains more about how Gavin Newsom approaches governance than anything his critics could say,” the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action said in the same response.
Convening a constitutional convention to consider Newsom’s gun control amendment would require either approval by two-thirds in both houses of Congress, or two-thirds of state Legislatures – 34 of them, according to Article V of the U.S. Constitution.
Any amendment proposed would then have to be ratified by three-fourths of the state Legislatures, or three-fourths of conventions called in each state.
Such is currently 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 the same response to Mr. Newsom’s announcement. “It certainly won’t occur on one of the most divisive issues in modern politics.”
The Convention of States in California, the Sacramento Freedom Coalition, and Gun Owners of California also opposed the measure.
Sam Perez, president of the state lobbying group Gun Owners of California, told committee members the constitutional convention was a non-starter.
“All of the laws will not change the hearts of people who are willing to commit crimes,” Mr. Perez said. “They will always be able to get whatever they need to commit their crimes. That’s been proven throughout history. This is never going to happen.”
The only constitutional convention held in U.S. history occurred in 1787 in Philadelphia, which charged the new country’s leaders with amending the Articles of Confederation to address the weak central government. The convention quickly broadened and resulted in the creation of the U.S. Constitution.
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Jill McLaughlin

Jill McLaughlin

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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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