California Gov. Gavin Newsom Proposes a 28th Constitutional Amendment on Gun Safety — Here’s What Happens Now

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The next step will be to get two-thirds of states on board with the proposed amendment, a challenging endeavor that Newsom acknowledges will require patience

Rich Pedroncelli/AP/Bloomberg via Getty
Rich Pedroncelli/AP/Bloomberg via Getty

California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday proposed an unprecedented step in the fight for gun safety: that states work together to pass a 28th amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would put firearm restrictions in place across the country.

The proposed amendment would implement four measures nationwide: raise the minimum age for buying a firearm to 21; mandate universal background checks; require a reasonable waiting period on gun purchases; and ban the sale of assault rifles.

Speaking on the Today show Thursday morning, Newsom said, "It's pretty self-evident that a lot of the laws that we've passed are being rolled back by the courts," calling gun violence "an existential crisis."

To move the amendment forward, two-thirds of U.S. states would need to propose the same amendment, which would then trigger a Constitutional Convention. Three-quarters of states would then have to vote in favor for the amendment to pass.

Asked how he planned to shore up support in states with Republican-controlled legislatures, Newsom said he sees a path to passage if states listen to their constituents.

"It's possible because their constituents demand it," Newsom told Today, which cited a recent Fox News poll that found that the vast majority of Americans are in favor of all four measures the amendment would place into law (87% of respondents, for instance, are in favor of criminal background checks on all gun purchases).

Related: Bill Clinton Urges Americans with Opposing Views on Gun Control to 'Just Talk to Each Other Again'

In a video posted to social media on Thursday, Newsom further outlined the plan, saying that the 28th Amendment would leave the Second Amendment "intact" but would lock in "commonsense constitutional protections that Democrats, Republicans, independents and gun owners overwhelmingly support."

"This fight won't be easy, and it certainly won't be fast," Newsom said. "Convening a Constitutional Convention requires two-thirds of the states to call for this. California will be the first. But that's just the beginning."

Related: Gavin Newsom Uses Texas Abortion Ban to Validate Private Lawsuits Against Gun Manufacturers in California

Newsom has long been a proponent of gun safety and in 2021 used a controversial abortion ban in Texas to justify private lawsuits against gun manufacturers in his own state.

The California governor's plan reflected the part of Texas' law that allows private citizens to sue abortion clinics they suspect of performing illegal abortions after six weeks, as well as anyone who aided in an abortion, including driving someone to an appointment or helping them with the cost. If the lawsuit is successful, they will be awarded a minimum of $10,000.

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