The California Assembly voted on Sept. 14 in favor of supporting Gov. Gavin Newsom’s call for a national constitutional convention to add his gun control measures to the U.S. Constitution with a 28th amendment.
Mr. Newsom’s proposal, announced in June, would leave the Second Amendment unchanged but would add mandated universal background checks, raise the firearm purchase age from 18 to 21, institute a firearm purchase waiting period, and prohibit civilians from buying "assault weapons" and other “weapons of war.”
The governor’s gun control measures would be added in a new amendment.
“The Right to Safety Amendment would preserve the integrity of the Second Amendment, while enshrining in our Constitution common-sense safety provisions that are supported overwhelmingly by the American people,” Mr. Newsom said in a Sept. 15 statement. “This action is even more urgent as radical judges use a warped interpretation of our Constitution to roll back gun safety laws in California, and across the country.”
The U.S. Supreme Court and judges in California—whom he called “radical” and “unelected judges”—have restricted the governor from enacting similar measures in the state.
“In the face of decades of congressional inaction and unelected judges that are putting Americans in danger, it is time for citizens to stand up for common sense to protect us against the uniquely American epidemic of gun violence,” Mr. Newsom said.
The resolution doesn't require approval by the governor.
Convening a constitutional convention is unlikely. It would require either approval by two-thirds of both houses of Congress or two-thirds of state legislatures—34 of them, according to Article V of the U.S. Constitution.
Co-sponsor of the resolution Assemblyman Reginald Jones-Sawyer, a Democrat, said the resolution was crafted in a way that restricts the constitutional convention to discuss only California’s gun control measures. If that changes, the state’s call for a convention would be voided, he said.
Some Democratic members of the Legislature were concerned that a constitutional convention could be expanded to add other amendments, such as addressing right-to-life issues.
“With the support of the people across all political ideologies, who overwhelmingly support these measures, we can and will get this done,” Mr. Jones-Sawyer said on the Assembly floor on Sept. 14.
Republican Assemblyman Tom Lackey, of Palmdale, California, a retired California Highway Patrol sergeant who served for 28 years, called the resolution flawed.
“A gun is a tool, and a tool is only as dangerous as the individual wielding it,” Mr. Lackey said before the vote. “California’s approach to gun control is far from perfect, and I think we should be less prescriptive about how we fix a problem nationally that we haven’t fixed in our own cities and counties. I hope that in the future, we can be a little more open-minded about actually addressing the root causes about violent acts committed with firearms.”
Many political experts are expecting the governor to run for president in the 2024 Democratic primary, although Mr. Newsom has denied his intention to seek the office.
The NRA also pointed out that any amendment proposed at a constitutional convention would have to be ratified by three-fourths of the country’s state legislatures, which is unlikely as Republicans control 22 states and Democrats 17. Political majorities are split in the remaining 10 states, and Nebraska is nonpartisan.
“That sort of state-generated constitutional action has NEVER occurred on ANY issue during the entire history of the U.S.,” the NRA wrote in a response to Mr. Newsom’s announcement about the gun control measures in June. “It certainly won’t occur on one of the most divisive issues in modern politics.”
A slew of other gun control measures also recently passed the Legislature and await Mr. Newsom’s signature before becoming law, including the following:
“This requirement runs contrary to the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and is an additional burden for gun owners, especially those with firearms stored in multiple residences or in safe deposit boxes, that can make them ineligible to purchase another firearm until they visit all of those locations,” the NRA said in a statement.