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Anti-Gun Governor Grabs Headlines with Phony, Insincere Proposal to Amend Away Your Rights

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) is presiding over a state in decline, with violent crime rising in the state and once renowned cities like San Francisco now cautionary tales of urban squalorResidents and businesses are fleeing locales that have all but abandoned the idea of law enforcement, if not fleeing the state altogether.

But nothing succeeds in Newsom’s brand of politics like failure, and with his sights set firmly on national office, the Golden State governor is now receiving fawning attention in the mainstream press for an unserious proposal to rewrite the Second Amendment. The “plan” would be to change the current wording that protects what the U.S. Supreme Court has characterized as a preexisting, fundamental right rooted in concepts of self- and corporate defense into an affirmative grant of authority to the U.S. government to restrict and impede gun ownership. The fact Newsom is taking this tact to garner national attention for himself, however, may say more than he or his supporters realize about how overreaching California-style gun control already is.

It’s ironic that the U.S. Constitution and its constraints are suddenly of interest to Newsom, especially when it comes to gun control. There is precious little bad thinking in gun control that isn’t already binding law in California. This includes versions of every item on Newsom’s list of proposed changes, i.e., banning adults under age 21 from purchasing firearms; banning private sales and transfers of firearms; a waiting period for gun purchases; and banning “civilian” purchase of so-called “assault weapons.” Newsom pitches these “ideas” by emphasizing (and grossly exaggerating) their supposedly broad bi-partisan support. But they remain the minority approach among U.S. states, and none of them (except limitations on handgun purchases by young adults) are federal law.

Just how far Newsom would go with these proposals is unknown; there appears to be no text of his amendments for public review. That alone strongly indicates that publicity, not policy-making, is the real impetus of his effort. But even from a policy-making standpoint, Newsom’s proposal is incoherent.

First, as shown by the most exhaustive analysis of gun control’s effectiveness to date – conducted by the non-partisan RAND Corporation – none of these policies has “supportive” evidence for decreasing violent crime or reducing firearm-related mortality.

Second, if the policies are as popular as he claims, the political process itself should be enough to see them enshrined into law. Indeed, that has been the case in California and in other states where anti-gun sentiment prevails in the legislature. It’s also a fact that each item on this list is perennial fodder for anti-gun bills introduced in the U.S. Congress. Clearly, gun control supporters at all levels of government are already convinced that nothing in the U.S. Constitution stands in the way of these laws. No serious or well-informed person, in any case, believes an anti-gun politician would forgo a politically feasible gun control win over quibbles about its constitutionality. Yet if Congress won’t even pass bills to enact these laws, who could believe both houses would vote by a two-thirds margin to take the far more difficult, consequential, enduring, and politically perilous step of supporting a constitutional amendment to implement them? It is unpopularity, not reverence for the Constitution, that dooms the items on Newsom’s list.

Third, even Newsom’s fellow travelers in the media who are happy to give him national exposure and favorable coverage for his silly plan admit it is all but hopeless. The antigun Los Angeles Times characterized it as “a longshot proposal with little chance of passing in a nation deeply divided on the issue.” As that outlet correctly notes, many states are not only rejecting proposals like the ones on Newsom’s list, they are affirmatively removing restrictions to favor the right to keep and bear arms.  Meanwhile, the generally pro-gun Republican Party wields control of 22 states, with the generally anti-gun Democrat Party dominant in 17 states. For the amendment to arise from the states themselves, two-thirds would have to support a call for a constitutional convention for that purpose. And assuming Newsom’s proposal survived that convention intact, three-quarters of the states would have to ratify it. That sort of state-generated constitutional action has NEVER occurred on ANY issue during the entire history of the U.S. It certainly won’t occur on one of the most divisive issues in modern politics.

Finally, if Newsom really believes that the U.S. Constitution must be amended to accommodate the four items on his list, then he is necessarily admitting that existing laws to this effect are constitutionally void or at least highly problematic. If that’s true, then the oath he took as governor to support and defend the Constitution of the United States should compel him to seek repeal of California’s own versions of those laws or at least to withhold defense of them against court challenges. It would also establish an extraordinary concurrence with the NRA’s own view of those laws.

If, on the other hand, he believes those laws are valid, then he is being nakedly political and insincere with his calls for a constitutional amendment to enable them. That would establish the NRA’s own view that Newsom’s “28th Amendment” effort is merely an expensive and time-wasting “publicity stunt.”

It’s also important to understand that what Newsom is really proposing is a fundamental constitutional revolution that would turn a constitutional protection against government overreach into a tool for the government to crack down on the people. That explains more about how Gavin Newsom approaches governance than anything his critics could say.

Article by NRA-ILA


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