Gavin Newsom Wants to Ride Gun Control to the White House

Gun Rights

Gavin Newsom once again pushes gun amendment: The California governor’s plan for a constitutional amendment to restrict guns seems unlikely to ever pass- but looks a great deal like the signature proposal for a future presidential campaign. 

Gavin Newsom Has a Big Plan? 

The issue of gun rights in America is a strange and asymmetrical one. Republicans tell their voters very often that Democrats want to take away their guns or the ability to buy more of them, which mostly has the effect of gun sales skyrocketing whenever a new Democratic Administration is about to come into power. 

Democrats, however, have rarely proposed outright bans on guns. Sure, gun rights are restricted in many cities, and Democrats often propose or even pass such measures as waiting periods, background checks, and the like, the types of laws that are sometimes struck down by the courts. 

In 2022, President Biden signed a bipartisan gun safety bill into law, following the Buffalo massacre, marking the first time since the Clinton crime bill in 1994, which included a since-expired assault weapons ban that federal gun legislation had passed. 

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Democratic voters, especially after major mass shootings, often demand greater action and blame the influence of the National Rifle Association in the prevention of the passage of stricter gun laws. And now someone who may very well be a candidate for president in the future is pushing just that. 

California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who is not currently running for president but often behaves as if he was, in June proposed what he calls the 28th Amendment to the Constitution. Newsom’s amendment has a stated aim to “End America’s Gun Violence Crisis,” and it proposes amending the Constitution to do several things: Raise the minimum age for gun purchases to 21, universal background checks, a “reasonable waiting period” for gun purchases, and banning assault weapons. 

The idea behind the amendment is that laws restricting guns can be struck down by the courts, usually on Second Amendment grounds. As Newsom pointed out this week in an email to his mailing list, this has recently happened multiple times to laws passed in California, such as a ban on high-capacity magazines. 

“People ask me all the time: Do we really need a Constitutional amendment on guns? Yes. Yes, we do,” Newsom said in the email.  “Because as long as there are far-right judges overturning commonsense gun laws — no law is safe. Not laws passed in California, not laws passed in Congress.” 

“Any gun safety law will continue to be thrown out by NRA-owned federal judges until we pass a Constitutional amendment to make our communities safer from gun violence,” the email added. 

Such an Amendment seems highly unlikely to ever pass. Constitutional Amendments are very hard to pass as it is — none of them have been ratified since the 27th Amendment, in 1992 — and it would be especially difficult for an amendment restricting gun ownership to pass two-thirds of Congress and three-fourths of the states. 

But what the proposed amendment seems much more likely to do is serve as a signature proposal for a Newsom presidential run, probably in 2028. Newsom will be able to argue that he is serious about gun violence – an issue that Democratic primary voters are known to care a lot about — and that he’s willing to take the sorts of measures that top Democratic presidents and candidates have not taken in the past. 

However, doing so will likely mobilize Republican voters against Newsom, with Republican candidates able to argue that yes, one of the Democratic candidates really does want to restrict guns. A Newsom candidacy, or presidency, in other words, will lead to the sales of many, many, many guns. 

Newsom, who continues to act as a surrogate for President Biden, is scheduled to debate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Fox News next month, in a rare debate between someone who is an active presidential candidate and someone else who, contrary to speculation, is not. 

Author Expertise and Experience:

Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Stephen has authored thousands of articles over the years that focus on politics, technology, and the economy for over a decade. Follow him on X (formerly Twitter) at @StephenSilver, and subscribe to his Substack newsletter.

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