California Governor Newsom Pushes Constitutional Amendment to Restrict Gun Rights, and why his proposals are misguided.

Jun 8, 2023 | Gun Control Advocates

California’s Governor Gavin Newsom proposes an amendment to the US Constitution that would impose gun control regulations:

  • Raising the federal minimum age to purchase a firearm from 18 to 21;
  • Mandating universal background checks to prevent truly dangerous people from purchasing a gun that could be used in a crime;
  • Instituting a reasonable waiting period for all gun purchases; and
  • Barring civilian purchase of assault weapons that serve no purpose but to kill as many people as possible in a short time – weapons of war our nation’s founders never foresaw.

While Governor Gavin Newsom acknowledges that he has to change the Constitution to pass the gun control laws he and other Democrats want, they don’t have the votes. Democrats control only 17 state governments, far short of the 34 states they need for ratification. Nor do they have the votes in Congress.

The Constitutional changes that they are pushing don’t make sense. For example, Democrats are pushing to raise the age that people can legally buy a gun to 21 years old. The main argument in favor of this point is that 18, 19, and 20-year-olds commit firearm-related crimes at relatively high rates, and that is true. But it is irrelevant to the ban that they are pushing. The issue isn’t whether that age group commits crimes but whether those who can legally buy a gun commit crimes. After all, about 90 percent of murderers already have a violent criminal history and are already banned from buying a gun. The ban affects only those who can pass a background check and legally buy a gun. Data shows that 18 to 20-year-olds who can pass background checks tend to be as law-abiding as older people.

Universal background checks wouldn’t have stopped one mass public shooting this century. The support for them is also a lot less solid than the media and gun control advocates claim. The current background check system unnecessarily discriminates against minorities and the poor (see here, here, and here).

Even short waiting periods of a few days are associated with higher rape rates. If women are being stalked or threatened, they may not have the ability to wait a few days to be able to protect themselves.

Regarding assault weapon bans, the federal assault weapon ban that was in effect from 1994 to 2004 produced no beneficial effect (see also here and here). Despite the claims, assault weapons are not commonly used to commit mass public shootings.