California Gov. Gavin Newsom is a big fan of gun control. Perhaps more accurately, he’s a vocal proponent of it. Whether or not he actually agrees with it or not requires us to peer into his soul. His actions, however, are plain for everyone to see.
His latest effort is a constitutional convention intended to pass a gun control amendment, one that would mandate universal background checks and ban “assault weapons.”
The legislature is backing him.
Yet will it amount to anything? I’ve argued that it won’t.
Gov. Gavin Newsom will need to do more than tweet to secure a constitutional amendment on gun restrictions.
The Democratic governor reinserted himself into the national gun debate this week after a mass shooting in Maine with a post on X condemning Republicans’ failure to act. But aside from his regular social media broadsides, Newsom has made little obvious progress outside of California over the past five months on his likely futile effort to inscribe gun restrictions into the U.S. constitution.
The governor’s aides say they are gathering support from other state leaders and have been in touch with Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey’s office. Newsom first proposed the idea in June, and more than a month after the California Legislature approved it, no leaders from other Democratic states — let alone Republican ones — have joined the effort that requires passing resolutions on the measure.
The lack of progress is deepening doubts about Newsom’s ambitious crusade — and calling into question the motives of someone with presidential ambitions.
“It’s good politics,” said Eric Jaye, a Democratic campaign consultant who has worked both for and against Newsom. “I don’t think many people who have looked at this closely think there’s a very good chance.”
California is one of 19 states where Democrats wield legislative majorities. The fact that Democrats who control Maine’s Legislature helped vote down the gun restrictions Newsom referenced in his post — a waiting period for firearm purchases — indicates the scale of the challenge.
And let’s face the facts here. More than half of the states in the country have some form of permitless carry. It’s highly unlikely that states that have done away with permitting requirements to carry a firearm are going to back an amendment that enshrines things like universal background checks and assault weapon bans.
Especially when trying to include an assault weapon ban in a constitutional amendment would be a multi-page nightmare.
Our amendments tend to be relatively short, yet amending it to ban modern sporting rifles would be far more difficult based on what we’ve seen out of states’ attempts to ban them. Plus, as soon as such a definition is ratified, gun companies will start building guns that bypass that definition.
So the only way that could really be prevented is to somehow give Congress the right to define an “assault weapon,” which means they could include anything, up to and including a single-shot .22 rifle or handgun.
The truth is that gun control is very popular in those states where it’s already on the books. It’s not overly popular in most of the rest of the country, which means that Newsom’s proposal is going nowhere.
We’ve said that more than once, of course, and others have said it as well. Now Politico is pointing it out.
It seems pretty clear now that even if a constitutional convention is convened, it won’t go the way Newsom wants.
And that’s just one of the ways this will backfire.
For one thing, Newsom’s proposal already is a tacit acknowledgment that gun control is unconstitutional. After all, if it is, why do you need a special amendment just to allow it?
Even if it did pass, it would actually be used as an argument against other forms of gun control. After all, the amendment itself only allows specific gun control laws. The fact that it doesn’t permit others means that those would be unconstitutional.
But, as Politico notes, this is likely more about Newsom’s eventual presidential campaign and less about gun control itself.