Gavin Newsom’s plan to introduce a 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to enshrine gun safety measures into law has been blasted by critics and gun rights advocates, including the National Rifle Association, as “unhinged.”
The California governor released the proposal on Thursday, suggesting a 28th Amendment that “will enshrine in the Constitution common sense gun safety measures that Democrats, Republicans, Independents, and gun owners overwhelmingly support” while leaving the 2nd Amendment unchanged “and respecting America’s gun-owning tradition.”
There have been 18,651 gun-related deaths in the United States since the beginning of the year, and as of June 7, 280 mass shootings, according to the Gun Violence Archive, a website that monitors and reports episodes of gun violence across the U.S.
After a series of particularly deadly mass shootings shocked the nation last year, including the attack at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, in May 2022, where 19 children and two teachers were killed, there have been renewed calls across the country to reinforce gun safety regulations at a national level.
Particular focus has been put on the widespread use of AR-15 assault-style rifles during mass shootings and the need to restrict and regulate access to such deadly weapons. But any major efforts to limit access to assault-style rifles and strengthen gun safety rules have met the strong opposition of gun rights advocacy groups.
The measures under Newsom’s 28th Amendment plan include raising the federal minimum age to purchase a firearm from 18 to 21; mandatory universal background checks for people wishing to purchase a firearm; the introduction of “a reasonable waiting period” for all gun purchases; and a ban on the purchase of assault weapons for civilians.
Newsom said that public support for new regulations that would boost gun safety legislation is strong. “Even Fox News can’t deny that the 28th Amendment is widely popular,” he tweeted on Thursday. “Here’s their most recent polling to prove it: Raising minimum age to buy a gun to 21: 81% – Background checks: 87% – A standard waiting period: 77% – Banning assault rifle sales: 61%.”
But gun rights advocates surely don’t like Newsom’s plan. The NRA and Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy are leading the criticism against the Democratic governor’s 28th Amendment proposal, accusing Newsom of threatening the rights of Americans and pointing out failures to tackle crime in California.
“@GavinNewsom’s latest publicly [likely publicity] stunt once again shows that his unhinged contempt for the right to self-defense has no bounds,” the NRA tweeted on Thursday. “California is a beacon for violence because of Newsom’s embrace of policies that champion the criminal and penalize the law-abiding. That is why the majority of Americans rightfully reject his California-style gun control.”
Newsweek reached out to Newsom’s team and the NRA via email for comment.
“Hey Governor Newsom,” tweeted McCarthy on the same day. “The 2nd Amendment already exists—we don’t need a 28th. But what we do need is for Presidential aspirants to stop pushing their extreme positions nationally.”
Mississippi Republican Governor Tate Reeves, who’s been in office since 2020, tweeted: “Gov. Newsom, I am willing to debate you on this in Mississippi any time. So on your next trip to our state to campaign for my opponent, give me a call.”
But there’s also been some public support for Newsom’s proposal.
“Governor @GavinNewsom is correct, we have been lied to,” gun control activist Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter died in the 2018 Parkland school shooting, tweeted. “We must stop listening to the liars & instead focus on those whose mission is to stop the next instance of gun violence. This common sense proposal seeks to do just that. Thank you Gov Newsom for your leadership on this.”
“The vast majority of us support all of this,” journalist Maria Shriver said of the 28th Amendment. “Let’s get together and make this happen.”
To be approved, Newsom’s plan must be supported by a convention that would propose the amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The California governor said he’s working together with members of the California State Senate and Assembly to call for such a convention, “with a joint resolution being introduced by California State Senator Aisha Wahab and Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer,” according to Newsom’s website.