A Gun-Control Amendment?

posted on November 30, 2023
Gov. Gavin Newsom
Illustration: Gary Locke

The only positive thing that one can say about the governor of California’s ongoing attempt to add a gun-control amendment to the U.S. Constitution is that his effort is more transparent than usual.

Instead of having a set of corrupt judges wave their wands and remove the right to keep and bear arms from the Constitution—which he would happily do if he got the chance—Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) is trying to amend the document openly, via the designated amendment process. This is a disgrace, but, at the very least, it’s a disgrace that we can see—and fight—out in the open.

And fight it we must, for if it were to be adopted, Newsom’s proposed change would be a disaster for the right to keep and bear arms in America. Indeed, it would be its death knell. Only one amendment to the federal Constitution in the history of the United States has ever limited or removed a right that the people have held since its founding, and that amendment—the 18th, which ushered in the prohibition of alcohol—was such a monumental disaster that it, in turn, was repealed. Inexplicably, Newsom has looked at that historical warning and decided that it is time for America to make a similar mistake. Evidently, some people never learn.

When he is selling his plan to the public, Newsom likes to insist that he is merely attempting to enshrine into American law a set of “common-sense” regulations. But this isn’t even close to being true. The changes Newsom seeks to make include setting the age at which Americans may purchase a firearm to 21—three years higher than the voting age, and with no exceptions. This change would also institute a national background-check system that would apply to all private transfers (including those between family members and friends). It would also require the establishment of a federal gun registry and would impose mandatory waiting periods on gun purchases for all Americans. It would thereby delay every citizens’ ability to exercise their rights and would ban the most-popular rifle in the United States under the false pretense that it is too exotic or dangerous for civilian use.

By design, these changes would be universal. Per his own admission, Newsom wishes to apply this new regime to every state, as well as to the federal government. “The 28th Amendment,” he has said, “will affirm Congress, states and local governments can enact additional common-sense gun-safety regulations that save lives.”

Or to put it another way: In the service of his extraordinary arrogance and plain-as-day political ambition, Gavin Newsom is trying to repeal one of the core provisions within the U.S. Bill of Rights, to override the constitutional protections of 45 of the 50 states and to replace them with the failed laws of California. In one fell swoop, Newsom aspires to wipe out the Heller (2008) decision, the McDonald (2010) decision and the Bruen (2022) decision, and thus to reverse the renaissance in the right to keep and bear arms that Americans have enjoyed over the last 30 years.

During the brief period of time in which the U.S. Supreme Court was declining to uphold the Second Amendment as it was written and understood, Justice Clarence Thomas frequently complained that the judiciary was treating the provision as if it represented a “second-class right.” By attempting to effectively rewrite the Second Amendment as he has, Newsom is responding to Thomas’ complaint by saying, “yes, exactly!”

At present, American governments at all levels are bound by the words “shall not be infringed.” Newsom wishes to free those governments from this injunction. If he were to succeed, the United States would be one bad election cycle away from becoming Canada.

Or, dare I say: California. 


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