California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposal for a gun control amendment to the Constitution isn’t likely to happen. Just a quick look at the political landscape makes it pretty obvious that there’s just not going to be nearly enough support for a constitutional amendment for those four anti-gun policies.
I mean, gun control advocates haven’t managed to get these things passed in Congress, which has a far lower barrier than a constitutional amendment has.
I’ve pretty much thought from the beginning that the purpose of this proposal isn’t so much to get gun control as to raise his own profile.
But what if he’s serious? What if he’s really thinking this is the way to get gun control?
Well, if so, there are a lot of experts he isn’t listening to offering warnings.
This week, two state lawmakers introduced a resolution that would make California the first state to officially call for a convention to consider Newsom’s proposal. The resolution calls for a convention that would be limited to consideration of an amendment to regulate guns.
“This application is for a limited constitutional convention and does not grant Congress the authority to call a constitutional convention for any purpose other than those set forth herein,” the text of the proposed Senate Joint Resolution reads. “This application shall be void if ever used at any stage to consider any constitutional amendments on subjects other than those specified herein.”
Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of UC Berkeley’s law school and one of the first people to raise concerns about the tactic, said the new language doesn’t allay his worries about the strategy, which he called “dangerous.” He noted that the only constitutional convention in American history was called for the purpose of revising parts of the Articles of Confederation, but that members of the convention decided to draft a new Constitution.
“Once a constitutional convention is called into existence, no one knows whether it can be limited to one topic,” he told the Chronicle in an email.
Rep. Jared Huffman, D-Marin, also said he doesn’t think the resolution addresses his concerns.
“I don’t think they fixed the problem,” he told the Chronicle in an email. “I appreciate that they’re trying to say the requested constitutional convention would be ‘limited’ to the items enumerated, but can you even do that? … There’s absolutely no way to know whether the convention could truly be ‘limited’ in the way California wants.”
And, really, there’s reason to be skeptical.
The California proposal suggests that if the convention is called for anything other than gun control, then California’s agreement is null and void. But what if that is the stated purpose, only no one agrees with the California proposal?
There’s no reason to believe a constitutional convention would be limited to just that subject, just as there’s no reason to believe that such a convention would actually even address the topic intended.
Newsom says that he’s unpersuaded by this argument, that gun control is just so important that he’s not worried.
That, however, suggests that he’s convinced this will never happen.
No one should be deluded enough to believe a constitutional convention–which would be ultimately run by Republicans, not Democrats, as they currently control more state legislatures than Newsom’s party–would stick to the California agenda.
In fact, I promise you that a lot of those states would do the opposite just out of spite.
Of course, this brings us back to the notion that Newsom’s plan here is to raise his status, to make sure anti-gun groups support him, and to look tough on guns without having to actually do anything.
It’s grandstanding and not a serious proposal.