SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Governor Gavin Newsom is proposing a 28th Amendment be added to the United States Constitution to enshrine gun safety laws into law, while leaving the Second Amendment untouched.
The proposed gun safety measures are: raising the age to purchase a firearm from 18 to 21, mandating universal background checks, extending waiting periods and banning the purchase of assault weapons.
Newsom is working with both Assembly member Reggie Jones-Sawyer and State Senator Aisha Wahab. The two legislators, who chair the Public Safety Committees in their respective houses, are tasked with crafting the details of the proposed amendment that would need to be approved by the state legislature before going forward.
“This is the most comprehensive way we can make a big, huge impact on mass shootings here in America,” Jones-Sawyer said.
Newsom and the Democratic Chairs emphasized the new amendment is not targeting the freedoms protected by the Second Amendment.
“As an American, I fully support the Second Amendment. As chair of public safety, I also believe it’s our responsibility to pass common sense legislation that protects all Californians,” Wahab adds.
There were 48,830 gun-related deaths in America in 2021, according to the Centers for Disease Control, which is the most deaths on record.
“As a person who has experienced what gun violence can do to a family — my father was murdered, and this was decades ago and at that time, newspapers were talking about the growing gun violence in this nation. Now we have pretty much expanded that tenfold in so many different ways,” Wahab said.
Newsom has used his platform as governor to call out Republican leaders on the national stage for their lack of action on mass shootings and gun deaths. Though Republican leaders in the state argue that Newsom should focus on addressing the problems in California instead of worrying about other states.
“We need him focused on problems we have in California. It’s a distraction from the fact that we have under-performing schools that we have, you know, huge homelessness and we have a $31 billion deficit,” said Assembly member Joe Patterson.
Wahab says her Republican colleagues’ criticism is misguided, as addressing issues both in California and nationwide are not mutually exclusive.
“We have the ability to introduce multiple bills a year, we have the ability to prioritize certain issues — we are prioritizing an issue that has plagued so many different Americans,” said Wahab.
There is still a long road ahead before the amendment could be enshrined in the Constitution. For a state to add an amendment to the Constitution, it has to go through a lengthy ratification process.
Two-thirds of the states must support holding a convention for adding the amendment. If a convention is held, it would then require three-fourths of the states to support ratifying the amendment. No amendment has ever been added to the Constitution through this process.
Jones-Sawyer says the legislature will work with Newsom to garner support from other states by utilizing a coalition of community organizers and leaders to build relationships with other states’ legislatures.
“Will it be challenging? Absolutely, it will be challenging, but should we just drop it because it’s challenging? It’s just too important and there are too many lives that are lost for us not to even try,” Jones-Sawyer said.
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