Newsom Takes On Gun Violence: A Constitutional Amendment in the Works—But Will It Pass?

By: Georgia | Published: Jun 19, 2024

In an ambitious move, California Governor Gavin Newsom is pushing for a constitutional amendment to tackle the nation’s gun violence head-on. 

He argues that changing the Constitution is crucial to break through the political gridlock that has hampered progress. Yet, amidst the deeply divided opinions on gun rights, many wonder if such a bold initiative can truly succeed.

Introducing the 28th Amendment

Facing the rollback of gun safety laws and the expansion of gun rights in various states, Newsom has proposed what could be the 28th Amendment. 

Close-up of Gavin Newsom speaking passionately at a podium in a formal setting

Source: Wikimedia Commons

His proposal includes major changes like raising the minimum age to buy firearms to 21, banning assault weapons, and mandating universal background checks—a significant shift in national gun policy.


Newsom's Track Record on Gun Control

Governor Newsom is no stranger to gun control battles. His administration has previously limited ammunition sales and introduced new taxes on firearm purchases, drawing both applause from gun control advocates and fierce opposition from gun rights groups. 

A protest sign with the quote "You don't spread democracy with a barrel of a gun" held at a public demonstration

Source: Colin Lloyd/Unsplash

His consistent push for stricter regulations showcases his dedication to curbing gun violence.

Ramping Up Support Across the Nation

Since unveiling his proposal, Newsom’s Campaign for Democracy has taken to social media to drum up support. 

Gavin Newsom speaking outdoors at a public event, wearing a casual blue shirt and sunglasses

Source: CAgovernor/X

They’re rallying a force of at least 10,000 volunteers nationwide, aiming to convince state lawmakers to back a constitutional convention to pass this groundbreaking amendment.

Facing Criticism from All Angles

Newsom’s proposal hasn’t escaped criticism, with some suggesting it’s more about boosting his profile for a potential presidential run than making genuine policy changes. 

Protesters holding signs about gun rights and the Second Amendment at a public rally outside a government building

Source: Wikimedia Commons

The silence from some national violence prevention groups adds to the skepticism, casting doubt on the amendment’s practicality and political feasibility.

A Long Road Ahead to 2025

Don’t expect quick action on this amendment. The complex and lengthy process required to change the Constitution means significant progress is unlikely before 2025. 

A close-up of the preamble of the US Constitution with a focus on "We the People."

Source: National Archives and Records Administration/Wikimedia

Achieving consensus across multiple states involves a daunting level of political coordination and mobilization.


Why a New Amendment? Newsom Explains

Newsom argues that a new amendment is essential to safeguard existing gun laws from being overturned by conservative court rulings. 

Gavin Newsom speaking at a government session with officials seated around him

Source: CAgovernor/X

He aims to establish clear gun protections that respect the Second Amendment yet are robust enough to withstand future legal and political challenges.


Supreme Court Ruling Raises the Stakes

The Supreme Court’s 2022 Bruen decision has intensified the debate, asserting that state gun laws must adhere to America’s historical firearm regulations. 

The United States Supreme Court building illuminated at twilight

Source: Wikimedia Commons

This landmark ruling has led to a surge in legal challenges against state gun policies, illustrating the urgency for the clear, federal standards that Newsom’s amendment seeks to establish.


California's Gun Laws in the Legal Crosshairs

Several of Newsom’s gun control measures are now under judicial review, including laws that let individuals sue illegal gun manufacturers and ban firearms in public spaces. 

A man examining rifles in a gun store with multiple firearms displayed on walls and in cases

Source: Wikimedia Commons

These challenges highlight the volatile landscape of gun legislation and the necessity for stronger federal protections.


Advocacy Groups Cautiously Optimistic

Though major groups like March for Our Lives and the Giffords Law Center haven’t officially endorsed the amendment, they express general support for bold actions against gun violence. 

Three activists wearing 'March For Our Lives' t-shirts at a South by Southwest event, making peace signs

Source: Wikimedia Commons

“We look forward to continuing to discuss these ideas and actions with Governor Newsom,” a representative from March for Our Lives told the Guardian.


Pushing for a Constitutional Convention

In September 2023, California’s legislature passed a resolution, led by Newsom, calling for a constitutional convention—a significant first step. 

The California State Capitol building under clear blue skies.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

But the real challenge lies ahead, as Newsom seeks to win over at least 33 more states to support the convention, a crucial but tough campaign.


Evaluating the Odds of Success

Using a constitutional convention to pass an amendment is an uncharted and rigorous approach; no amendment has yet been ratified this way. 

Close-up of Gavin Newsom outdoors in a blue suit, smiling slightly off-camera

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Given the sharp political and cultural divides over gun policy in the U.S., Newsom’s path to success is fraught with challenges, but the push for change is underway.