Newsom's Latest Anti-Gun Attack Panned By LA Times

AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu, File

New York Attorney General Letitia James is on board with California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s plan to adapt a Texas law that allows private citizens to sue abortion providers into a gun control bill empowering Californians to sue gun makers and gun stores over citizens possessing “assault weapons” and “ghost guns,” but the editorial board of the state’s most widely-read paper isn’t nearly as enthusiastic.

In fact, the editors of the Los Angeles Times have proclaimed that Newsom’s big idea is a bad one.

Perhaps Gov. Gavin Newsom was only joking on Saturday when he called for a Texas-style law that would prod Californians to sue one another over guns, just as SB 8 incentivizes Texans to seek bounties to block abortions. Maybe he was speaking only out of frustration, or maybe he just wanted to buck up fellow blue-staters who are rightly appalled that the U.S. Supreme Court didn’t strike down the Texas law last week and instead appears headed toward embracing further constraints on women’s control of their bodies while loosening restrictions on the ability to carry and use dangerous weapons.

But he certainly seems serious. Newsom said that his office is working on a bill and that he’d consult with his attorney general appointee, Rob Bonta, about how best to proceed.

In either case, the governor’s statements and actions will no doubt play well with a majority of Californians, six months before they head to the polls for the first round of voting on whether to give Bonta a first full term and Newsom a second.

But the idea is just plain wrongheaded.

The L.A. Times‘ argument is a simple one: two wrongs don’t make a right. If the Texas law is an appalling abuse of constitutional authority, then a California gun control law based on the Texas statute would suffer the same fundamental problems.

In fact, the Los Angeles Times editors find themselves in what must be an incredibly awkward position; more in agreement with the Second Amendment advocates at the Firearms Policy Center than with the anti-gun governor of California.

Even some gun rights advocates bristled at the Texas abortion ploy, knowing that Newsom, or others, would try to use the precedent to restrict guns. In an amicus brief that is in places delightfully sarcastic, the Firearms Policy Coalition warned that others could use the same tactics to block constitutionally protected but still controversial rights to same-sex marriage, interracial marriage, criticizing the government, protesting against police brutality, and on and on. Under Friday’s Supreme Court precedent, the court wouldn’t be able to vindicate thwarted constitutional rights until after, as the coalition put it, “years of litigation in state courts under rules that would make Mickey Mouse and kangaroos blush.”

Newsom in 2018 paved his way toward the governorship with Proposition 63, a gun control ballot measure that included a ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines, and he was understandably irked when a federal judge struck down the ban in June, comparing the AR-15-style rifle to a Swiss Army knife. The U.S. 9th Circuit reversed that late last month, and the question is likely to come before the Supreme Court, so Newsom would understandably like to give the court, and Texas, a taste of their own medicine.

The problem is that the medicine is poisonous to those who give it as well as those who take it.

The editors at the L.A. Times are no Second Amendment stalwarts. They regularly opine in favor of more gun control laws and against measures like the National Right to Carry Reciprocity Act. But while they may find Newsom’s proposal emotionally appealing, they’re also at least willing to acknowledge that it’s a truly dumb idea from a political, pragmatic, and even a constitutional point of view. It took some time, but it sounds like the Los Angeles Times finally found a gun control law that they can’t support, all thanks to Gavin Newsom and his political pandering.