California Gov. Newsom Proposes 28th Amendment to Limit Gun Rights, Impose 'Assault Weapons' Ban

California Gov. Newsom Proposes 28th Amendment to Limit Gun Rights, Impose 'Assault Weapons' Ban
California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks during a bill signing ceremony in San Francisco, Calif., on Feb. 9, 2022. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Ryan Morgan

Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom has proposed a 28th amendment to the U.S. Constitution to curtail specific aspects of gun rights.

“Our ability to make a more perfect union is literally written into the Constitution,” Newsom said in a Thursday press statement announcing the proposed amendment. “So today, I’m proposing the 28th Amendment to the United States Constitution to do just that. The 28th Amendment will enshrine in the Constitution common sense gun safety measures that Democrats, Republicans, Independents, and gun owners overwhelmingly support—while leaving the 2nd Amendment unchanged and respecting America’s gun-owning tradition.”

Newsom's proposal would specifically raise the minimum age to purchase a firearm from 18 to 21, implement a universal background check process, and bar the civilian ownership of "assault weapons." The amendment would also impose "a reasonable waiting period for gun purchases."

Constitutional amendments can be proposed either by a two-thirds vote in both houses of Congress or by a constitutional convention of two-thirds of U.S. states. Any amendment proposed would then have to be ratified by three-fourths of the state legislatures, or three-fourths of conventions called in each state for ratification.

“A man of action, Governor Gavin Newsom has the backbone to actually do something about the gun fetish culture around weapons of war, and tackle the relentless problem of gun violence and mass shootings,” Democratic state Sen. Aisha Wahab said. “As someone impacted by gun violence, I have an obligation to elevate the voices of victims and those of us left behind in the wake of tragedy.”

Democratic state Assembly member Reggie Jones-Swayer also endorsed Newsom's proposal, saying, "This bold but fair resolution calls on other states to join us in protecting some of the most effective ways of reducing gun violence.”

Details of the Proposal

In a video accompanying his rollout of the proposed amendment, Newsom included a graphic claiming there is 87 percent support for "background checks," 81 percent support for "raising minimum age," 77 percent support for "waiting period," and 61 percent support to "ban assault rifles for civilians." Newsom's video appears to cite an April poll conducted by Fox News, but the news publication has not released the specific wording of the questions it asked in that poll.

While Newsom's proposed amendment calls for banning the civilian ownership of "assault weapons," his press release did not specify what he considered to be an "assault weapon" and he said only that they "serve no other purpose than to kill as many people as possible in a short amount of time" and are "weapons of war our nation’s founders never foresaw."

Numerous state and local rules seeking to ban "assault weapons" have included bans on numerous models of semi-automatic rifles and handguns. California's own laws describe "assault weapons" as semiautomatic rifles with detachable magazines and pistol grip, thumbhole stock, flash suppressor, or forward grip; or a semiautomatic rifle that has a fixed magazine capable of holding more than 10 rounds. A semiautomatic pistol capable of accepting a detachable magazine that can hold more than 10 rounds is also considered an "assault weapon," as is a semiautomatic shotgun with a pistol grip or the ability to accept a detachable magazine of any capacity.

Newsom's press release also did not specify what he considered to be a "reasonable waiting period" for a gun purchase. The April Fox News poll described a 30-day waiting period.

NTD reached out to Newsom's office for comment about the specifics of his proposal but did not receive a response by the time this article was published.

Gun Rights Groups Respond

The National Rifle Association (NRA), one of the most prominent gun rights groups in America, cast Newsom's proposal as a publicity stunt.

“Newsom’s latest publicly stunt once again shows that his unhinged contempt for the right to self-defense has no bounds," the NRA said. "California is a beacon for violence because of Newsom’s embrace of policies that champion the criminal and penalize the law-abiding. That is why the majority of Americans rightfully reject his California-style gun control.”

The Firearms Policy Coalition, another gun rights group that has challenged the constitutionality of California's current gun control laws, suggested Newsom's proposed amendment bolsters their arguments.
"That Newsom is willing to offer this route to impose his immoral policies on the entire nation is an ironic recognition that the tide of history has turned against him and a genuine admission that his failed policies cannot withstand court scrutiny," FPC said in an emailed statement to NTD.

Gun Owners of America (GOA) was also among the first gun rights groups to criticize Newsom's proposal on Thursday morning, casting it as an attack on the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.

"We've always warned those who cherish their God-given liberties that the ultimate goal of anti-gunners was the abolishment of the Second Amendment," GOA Senior Vice President Erich Pratt told Fox News.

NTD reached out to the GOA for additional comment but the organization did not respond by the time this article was published.