Newsom proposes amending U.S. Constitution to curtail gun rights

Gun Rights

Gov. Gavin Newsom proposed an amendment to the U.S. Constitution on Thursday that would dramatically roll back gun rights enshrined in the Second Amendment since the nation’s founding.

“The American people are sick of Congress’ inaction,” Newsom said through his personal Twitter account.

His proposed 28th Amendment to the constitution, he said in a tweet that included a video of him describing his proposal, would enshrine four “widely supported gun safety freedoms — while leaving the 2nd Amendment intact.”

His proposal calls for raising the minimum age to purchase any gun to 21, universal background checks on all gun transfers, a “reasonable” waiting period for gun buyers to pick up their weapon and banning the civilian purchase of “assault weapons.”

Gun-rights supporters called it a political gimmick by a politician with national ambitions that if adopted would roll back people’s rights to defend themselves.

“Newsom’s latest publicly stunt once again shows that his unhinged contempt for the right to self-defense has no bounds,” the National Rifle Association said in a response Thursday. “California is a beacon for violence because of Newsom’s embrace of policies that champion the criminal and penalize the law-abiding. That is why the majority of Americans rightfully reject his California-style gun control.”

But advocates for more restrictions on guns cheered Newsom’s proposal.

“These are commonsense solutions that the vast majority of Americans support and it’s past time to make them the law of the land,” Moms Demand Action founder Shannon Watts said in a Twitter response to Newsom’s announcement.

The nation’s founders didn’t make it easy to amend the U.S. Constitution. The Constitution provides that an amendment may be proposed either by the Congress with a two-thirds majority vote in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, or by a constitutional convention called for by two-thirds of the state legislatures, according to the Office of the Federal Register. None of the 27 amendments to the Constitution have been proposed by constitutional convention.

A proposed amendment becomes part of the Constitution as soon as it is ratified by three-fourths — 38 out of 50 — of the states.

Larry Gerston, San Jose State University political science professor emeritus, said it would be quite difficult to persuade enough lawmakers and senators in rural states where hunting and gun rights are popular to go along with a proposal that would be assailed as an assault on their culture and constitutional rights.

“We’ve got a gun culture in many of these states and they view this as an intrusion,” Gerston said. “There have been more than 11,000 attempts to amend the Constitution since 1789. Twenty-seven have succeeded and 10 of those are the Bill of Bights.”

But Gerson added that the long-shot proposal gives Newsom another opportunity to raise his national profile ahead of an assumed future presidential campaign. Though Newsom has said he supports and won’t challenge the re-election of President Joe Biden, a fellow Democrat, he often is mentioned as one of the party’s top prospects for the White House, given his landslide victories in the nation’s most populous state.

“It’s just one more opportunity for Newsom to get on the national stage on a controversial issue,” Gerston said. “He’s already been out there on immigration, abortion — California is a sanctuary state for both of those. These are all big social issues. This is one more issue where he’s come out there and laid his cards on table. He’s developing this portfolio where once he presents himself as a national candidate, it’s just one more step for him to be in position should interest in the presidency ever develop.”

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