Op-ed offers strange support for Newsom's amendment

AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposed gun control-focused 28th Amendment didn’t get quite the support the California Democrat likely expected. Anti-gun groups weren’t exactly tripping over themselves to offer their approval and many of his fellow gun control advocates were strangely silent.


It was like even they knew it was a terrible idea.

But over at the Boston Globe, someone seems to like it. Well, for some values of “like,” that is.

California Governor Gavin Newsom wants strong gun-control laws in every state of the union. To that end, he proposes to change the US Constitution.

Last month, Newsom outlined a 28th Amendment that would restrict the Second Amendment’s guaranteed right to keep and bear arms. It would do so in four ways: by raising from 18 to 21 the minimum age to purchase a firearm, by mandating universal background checks for gun transactions, by instituting a waiting period before any gun purchase is finalized, and by banning civilians from acquiring assault rifles, which Newsom calls “weapons of war our Founding Fathers never foresaw.”

Amending the Constitution, as the governor acknowledges, is a daunting task. “This fight won’t be easy and it certainly won’t be fast,” he said in a video posted on social media. It has been more than 30 years since the Constitution was last amended, and no amendment has ever been initiated by the method Newsom is attempting: a so-called Article V Convention summoned by at least two-thirds of the states. If he genuinely intends to lead a national campaign for a 28th Amendment, then he has indeed set himself a tough challenge. And I admire and applaud him for taking it on.

To be clear, I don’t support Newsom’s goal of impeding private gun ownership. His amendment’s restrictions would do little or nothing to reduce mass shootings or gun deaths and would make many vulnerable Americans less safe. But assuming Newsom is serious, I give him credit for seeking to constitutionalize gun control the right way: by amending the Constitution, not by filing a lawsuit.


In other words, the author isn’t anti-gun, he just happens to think that if you want gun control to be constitutional, you need to amend the Constitution.

He’s not wrong, either. The Second Amendment makes it very clear that our right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, and people like Newsom want to infringe it all over the place.

But Newsom’s amendment is very ill-thought-out, even if you support gun control.

For example, banning “assault weapons” is easy to say in a soundbite, but look at how various states define “assault weapons” sometime. It’s pages and pages of definition, all of which are circumvented within five minutes of the law’s passage.

Now, imagine you’re creating an amendment designed to prevent so-called weapons of war from hitting our streets for all time. Even if you can ban anything that even smells like an AR-15, what about the next generation of weapons? The firearm has been around for centuries, but someone is bound to invent something to replace it sooner or later, even if it’s well after our time.

All that said, if you want gun control to stick and not be overturned by the courts, then the author is completely correct. You need to amend the Constitution, as Newsom is proposing.


But amendments are easy to propose. They’re very difficult to pass, and that’s why Newsom’s proposal isn’t about gun control, but grandstanding.

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