Why Newsom is wrong to bemoan "frozen in time" gun laws

AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes

The ink isn’t even dry on the Bruen decision, but some are already preparing to pass as many gun control laws as they think they can get away with. One such person is California Gov. Gavin Newsom.

California is one of the six states with may-issue concealed carry laws, laws that were basically just destroyed by the decision.

One might think that lawmakers there might want to take a step back and try to determine if they need to rethink how they view the Second Amendment. If you did, you’re very wrong.

California’s governor and attorney general vowed to adopt new gun control measures after the U.S. Supreme Court weakened states’ ability to place limitations on concealed carry permits. They said the new bills would help “keep Californians safe.”

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) quickly lambasted the ruling, saying it was a “radical decision” he would fight, voicing opposition to those who “coddle the gun industry.” The governor pledged the state would move forward with 16 new gun safety bills next week, including legislation that would allow people to sue gun manufacturers and sellers for violating gun laws.

“While this reckless decision erases a commonsense gun safety law that existed for decades, California anticipated this moment,” Newsom said in a statement Thursday. “But make no mistake: this is a radical decision. Today’s Court thinks that gun regulations should be frozen in time, and that if there wasn’t a similar law in existence in the 1700s or 1800s, then a state can’t pass it now, no matter how important it is to protect people from the modern horror of gun violence.”

The thing is, the Court was right to view the Second Amendment as “frozen in time,” since that’s literally what they do with every other right enumerated in the Constitution.

For example, technology makes it really easy for law enforcement to look inside your various devices. However, the courts have ruled for years that they enjoy the same Fourth Amendment protections as your home.

The internet is something the Founding Fathers couldn’t have begun to imagine, yet the courts have held that First Amendment protections extend to Twitter and Facebook. While those platforms may delete content, you can’t be arrested for, say, criticizing the government on them.

Both the First and Fourth Amendments are, in essence, frozen in time in their protections of our civil liberties. Why should the Second Amendment be held to a different standard?

The short answer is that it shouldn’t.

Justice Clarence Thomas has argued that the Second Amendment is treated as a second-class right. That’s essentially what Newsom is doing with this very argument, suggesting that while the First and Fourth Amendments are “frozen in time,” to borrow his words, but the Second Amendment not only isn’t but shouldn’t he suggests that it’s a right that’s not on the same level with anything else in the Bill of Rights.

Well, thankfully for all of us, Gavin Newsom isn’t on the Supreme Court, nor are there that many who believe as he does.