California Gov. Gavin Newsom has proposed a 28th constitutional amendment to enshrine in the Constitution common sense gun safety measures that Democrats, Republicans, Independents, and gun owners overwhelmingly supportwhile leaving the 2nd Amendment unchanged and respecting Americas gun-owning tradition. Readers of all persuasions might spot a few problems.
Newsom appears to believe that gun owners are a separate category from Democrats, Republicans, and independents, and he fails to quantify their overwhelming support in any detail. More seriously, the governor cites Americas gun-owning tradition, but the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution speaks of the right of the people to keep and bear Arms. The term right fails to appear in Newsoms proposal.
Experts Support Gun Rights
The California governor cites the Giffords Law Center but seems uninformed about the vast literature on firearms, the Second Amendment, and gun control. Consider, for example, the acclaimed More Guns Less Crime by John Lott, who earned his Ph.D. in economics at UCLA. Lott also authored The War on Guns and Freedonomics: Why the Free Market Works.
Newsom, not a lawyer or economist, also seems unaware of Gary Kleck, emeritus professor of criminal justice and professor of law at Florida State University. Kleck is the author of Point Blank: Guns and Violence in America, the most outstanding contribution to criminology, according to the American Society of Criminology. Kleck is also the author of Targeting Guns: Firearms and Their Control.
According to the largest and most comprehensive survey, American gun owners use firearms in self-defense some 1.7 million times a year. The survey confirms that AR-15-style rifles with high-capacity magazines, which Newsom brands assault weapons and wants banned, are commonly used for lawful purposes. Those include recreational target shooting (64 percent), home defense (62 percent), hunting (47 percent), defense outside the home (42 percent), and competitive shooting (27 percent).
Men account for 58 percent of gun owners, meaning that 42 percent are women exercising their Second Amendment rights. Twenty-five percent of African Americans own guns, about 28 percent of Hispanics, 19 percent of Asians, and 34 percent of whites. That marks a stark contrast with regimes such as National Socialist Germany, which ruthlessly suppressed firearm ownership.
Taking Away Guns Opens the Door to Tyranny
As Stephen P. Halbrook shows in Gun Control in the Third Reich: Disarming the Jews and Enemies of the State, Hitlers National Socialists used the registration records of the Weimar Republic to confiscate firearms and restrict ammunition. In Gun Control in Nazi-Occupied France: Tyranny and Resistance, Halbrook shows how the National Socialist occupiers even confiscated antiquated hunting rifles.
A disarmed populace allowed the National Socialists to massacre 196 men, 245 women, and 207 children at Oradour-sur-Glane on June 10, 1944. The 196 men killed included seven Jewish refugees from other parts of France. This is what happens, as the late P.J. ORourke put it, when the people with all the power have all the guns.
Newsom is a protégé of Californias recurring Gov. Jerry Brown, who appointed Newsoms father to superior and appeals court judgeships. The Brown administration funded the UC Davis Firearms Violence Research Center, purportedly based on science. The centers first project was a survey that looked at who owns guns, why they own them and how they use firearms. That sounds more like snooping than science. Like the National Socialists, they want the names.
Since July 1, 2019, California has required background checks to purchase ammunition. By December 2019, the state rejected 62,000 Californians legally entitled to purchase ammunition, including off-duty sheriffs deputies purchasing shotgun shells to hunt ducks.
State agents also seized 51 firearms, 28,518 rounds of ammunition, and more than 120 magazines. Ari Frielich of the Giffords Law Center said, The system was working as intended.
Newsoms Historically Bad Record on Crime
Newsoms proposal also fails to include the word crime, and state law goes easy on the most violent criminals, particularly juveniles. Under Senate Bill 1391, in effect since 2019, any person under the age of 16 can murder one, two, or any number of people with a gun or otherwise. Such a murderer would be prosecuted in juvenile court and, by law, serve only until age 25.
In one of his first acts as governor, Newsom granted a reprieve to 737 convicted murderers, the worst of the worst. Beneficiaries of the governors largesse included Richard Allen Davis, who kidnapped and killed twelve-year-old Polly Klaas, and Tool Box Killer Lawrence Bittaker, who raped and killed five teen girls in 1979 after torturing them with pliers and screwdrivers.
In late 2018, illegal immigrant and felon Gustavo Perez Arriaga, also known as Paulo Virgen Mendoza, gunned down Newman, California, police officer Ronil Ron Singh, a legal immigrant from Fiji who came to the United States to become a police officer. Newsom was a no-show at Singhs funeral and failed to condemn the murder as gun violence.
Newsoms constitutional gambit would have no effect on violent criminals who do not follow gun laws or laws against murder, assault, and robbery. Stricter measures against violent criminals would be welcome, but the Second Amendment, like the First, needs no additions or supplements. For further reading, see Stephen Halbrooks The Right to Bear Arms: A Constitutional Right of the People or a Privilege of the Ruling Class?