Gov. Newsom proposes 28th Amendment banning assault rifles

AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes

I’m not sure what the point of this announcement is except to remind everyone that Gavin Newsom really wants to be president. He’s not running for president in 2024 and yet he keeps acting like he’s already in the race, starting fights with other candidates (Gov. DeSantis) and putting out new national policy positions like this one on gun control. I guess the advantage of this big announcement is that no one expects anything will happen so there’s no real pressure to accomplish anything.


Gov. Gavin Newsom is seeking an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would restrict gun ownership — a daunting and likely quixotic response to the deadliest wave of mass shootings in U.S. history that would nonetheless position California as the most aggressive state in the union on gun control…

“This is a mechanism to address that despair,” Newsom said in an interview with POLITICO ahead of his announcement, which came from his Campaign for Democracy PAC. “We’re sick of being on the defense and throwing up our hands. We want to go on the offense and be for something and build a movement that’s bottom up, not top down.”

The proposal has four points with a fifth tacked on at the end.

  • Raise the age to buy a gun from 18 to 21.
  • Mandate background checks.
  • “Reasonable” waiting periods for all gun purchases (California has a 10-day waiting period).
  • Ban assault rifles.

The final part of his pitch is this: “…while leaving the 2nd Amendment intact.” Here’s his video making the proposal.


Newsom admits the road to making this happen would be long but he might as well have said impossible.

To pass the 28th Amendment, Newsom and California lawmakers would need to initiate a nationwide convention to propose the measures to the U.S. Constitution. Two-thirds of all U.S. statehouses would need to agree to the initial meeting, and another three-quarters would need to support the amendment for it to become law.

But Republicans, who control more than half of state legislatures across the country, are unlikely to support the move, and no constitutional amendment proposed by a state has ever become law.

Even if you could convince 2/3 of the states to convene and draft this amendment, you’d still need 3/4 of the states to ratify it. Newsom has a little graphic claiming that all of these ideas are already very popular based on a Fox News poll published in April. But the big change he’s proposing here is the assault weapons ban. Notice where that sits.

Again, he needs 67% of states to agree to get this rolling and then needs 75% to ratify. How is that going to happen with a 61% issue? It’s also worth noting that the Fox poll may be an outlier. A Monmouth poll taken at about the same time found the public almost evenly split on the assault weapon ban.


The public is currently divided over a ban on the future sale of assault weapons – 46% support this and 49% are opposed. Last year, a majority (55%) favored such a ban while 42% stood in opposition. The drop in support has come mainly from independents (49% in 2022 to 37% now), but there have also been declines among Republicans (from 32% to 24%) and Democrats (from 82% to 77%).

“Despite continued incidents of mass shootings, public support for banning assault weapons has dipped. It’s not clear why, since support for some other gun measures remains widespread,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.

In other words, the core of Newsom’s proposal may not even have 50% support, depending which poll you look at. There’s no way that’s going anywhere as a constitutional amendment. Incidentally, what does have strong support in both the Fox poll and the Monmouth poll is red flag laws. From the Fox poll:

Requiring mental health checks on gun buyers (80%)

Allowing police to take guns from those considered a danger to themselves or others (80%)

And from Monmouth:

The poll also finds that more than 7 in 10 Americans (72%) support a federal red flag law that would allow police to temporarily take away the guns of someone who poses a threat to themselves or others. This is similar to the 75% support level recorded last year, although strong support for red flag laws has dipped from 58% to 49%.


Red flag laws are much more popular than an assault weapon ban. So why didn’t Newsom include that instead? The only thing that makes sense is that this whole proposal isn’t about actually doing anything, it’s about getting more media attention for Gavin Newsom. And if that’s the goal I guess it’s working. Newsom was on the Today show this morning to talk about this. Even progressive reporter Jacob Soboroff can see this is a non-starter.

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