Mon, Sep 18, 2023 4:34 PM
By Kenneth Schrupp, The Center Square
The California State Legislature passed Governor Gavin Newsom’s call for a national Constitutional Convention to limit gun access. Prominent Democrats and Second Amendment advocates alike have criticized the decision to push for a convention, noting that there would be no limits on what such a convention could add or remove in a new draft of the national constitution.
“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,” said Newsom in a public statement.
Newsom’s proposed national amendment would end most gun ownership for those under 21, mandate universal background checks (and thus, a national gun registry), a minimum waiting period before a gun is transferred to a buyer, and ban “assault weapons and other weapons of war.”
Thirty-four state legislatures would have to adopt resolutions calling for a convention, and three quarters of states would have to ratify whatever the convention produces. Instead of a convention, the Constitution could also be amended by a ⅔ vote from both bodies of Congress and ratification by three quarters of states.
Prominent Democrats, including State Senator Scott Wiener, have voiced significant concern about such a convention. Wiener was the lone Democrat to not vote for the resolution in committee, and one of two Democrats to vote against the bill during the Senate floor vote.
“This is not a non-binding resolution. This is California going on record for the process of triggering a constitutional convention. When you reach a legal threshold, a constitutional convention is triggered,” said Wiener during the hearing before the vote in the Senate Committee on Public Safety. “There is nothing that says the calls for a convention have to be identical. There is nothing in the Constitution that says we can have a Constitutional convention limited to one topic.”
Many Second Amendment advocacy groups, including Gun Owners of California, have voiced similar concerns about a runaway convention while also noting the low odds such a convention could occur and that such a change would even be ratified.
“The door will be flung wide open for other issues – not related to firearms – to be addressed. Even though the resolution states that the request for an amendment would be withdrawn if the delegates consider any other subjects, it is naïve to believe this would happen, plus its very clear that once a Constitutional Convention is called, it cannot be undone,” said Gun Owners of California Executive Director Sam Paredes in a letter to the California Senate. “No resolution from the State of California will have any binding authority on what could occur should a Convention actually be called.”
“Given that 27 of the 50 States have declared themselves “Constitutional Carry” and are actively working to divest themselves of statutes that violate the Second Amendment, this is an obvious [sic] unattainable goal,” Paredes continued.