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California Governor Gavin Newsom on Thursday proposed a new amendment to the US constitution to curb gun violence. The 28th Amendment would “keep the Second Amendment intact” while enshrining common sense safety measures into law.
Newsom said that he plans to work with the California legislature to call a Constitutional Convention in the near future. This step will allow other states to take similar measures. Absent action from Congress, legislatures in a total of 33 states must vote to hold conventions to officially request a Constitutional Amendment. Once requested, three-fourths of the states in the country must then vote to ratify the amendment.
28th Amendment proposal
The Amendment, as currently proposed by Newsom, would implement a series of common sense reforms to purchasing a firearm. If passed, it would require:
- Raising the minimum age for purchasing a firearm from 18 to 21.
- Mandating universal criminal background checks for all gun purchases.
- Implementing a mandatory, “reasonable” waiting period of all gun purchases.
- Banning the purchase of assault weapons nationwide.
Newsom’s proposal comes as the United States continues to grapple with another year of extraordinary gun violence.
Calls for reform ongoing as gun violence continues to increase
In the first five months of 2023, the country experienced more than 200 mass shootings. Many of these have been targeted attacks, where innocent people (including children) have been killed at homes, schools and shopping malls.
In 2021 alone, more than 45,000 people lost their lives to gun violence. Over 20,000 of those deaths were homicides.
The United States leads the world in gun deaths, gun homicides and gun ownership. Gun violence has now become the leading cause of death for children in the country, surpassing car accidents. The death-filled data add weight to Newsom’s argument for a 28th Amendment.
Despite these statistics, few substantial policy shifts have occurred at a national level. Gun advocates often point to the Second Amendment, claiming any regulations on firearm purchasing is unconstitutional.
But even among nations where gun ownership is revered and gun rights enshrined in law, strict mandates around purchases remain.
Countries with high rates of gun ownership use common sense laws to keep violence low
In Switzerland, where a population of 8 million people own more than 2 million guns, the right to purchase a gun comes with responsibility and regulations.
Swiss law mandates that prospective gun owners pass a background check and are deemed by law enforcement not to be a threat to themselves or others. Civilians must also pass a test about gun ownership to demonstrate their knowledge of owning and operating a firearm.
The country also enforces strict laws around gun storage and mandates schools, hospitals and public buildings as gun free zones.
As gun violence continues to rise in the United States and some right-wing politicians push for even looser gun laws, the call for common sense reforms grows stronger.
Polls indicate a majority of Americans support the measures outlined in the proposed 28th Amendment. Nearly 90% of Americans support universal background checks, 77% support waiting periods and over 60% favor an assault weapons ban.
In Texas, one of the most pro-gun states in the Union, polling shows more than 75% of residents support raising the age to purchase a gun to 21.
It remains to be seen if these reforms, broadly supported by Americans, will receive enough support from elected officials to eventually become law as a 28th Constitutional Amendment.