How The New Gun Laws Can Be Defeated In California
By Susan Shelly of LA Daily News — The difference between a right and a privilege is the difference between a birthmark and a chalk mark.
One can be removed only with a particular type of procedure, and the other one can be swept away with a wave of the hand.
On June 30, when the California Legislature passed 13 bills in one day to put new limits on the constitutional right to keep and bear arms, the speed and ease with which lawmakers turned ordinary citizens into criminals was a shock to a lot of people.
Craig DeLuz of the Firearms Policy Coalition said the torrent of legislation was a “manic attack on law-abiding gun owners,” and Calguns.net president Paul Nordberg called it “a full frontal assault” on Second Amendment rights.
Gov. Jerry Brown signed six of the bills the next day and one a few weeks later. If they were rushed in the hope that Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom could be persuaded to withdraw a ballot initiative that covered much of the same ground, it didn’t work. Newsom’s initiative is Proposition 63 on the Nov. 8 ballot.
Under the new laws, the definition of “assault weapon” is broadened to ban guns that are widely owned. A background check will be required for every ammunition purchase. It will be a crime to loan a gun to a non-family member, and illegal to possess magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition.
Gun owners are justifiably angry at having the lawful exercise of their rights suddenly criminalized. Can anything be done about it?
Gun-rights supporters are circulating petitions to put a referendum on each of these laws on an upcoming statewide ballot, which would allow voters to block the laws from taking effect. There are currently about 600 locations in California where registered voters can sign the “Veto Gunmageddon” petitions.
The laws can also be challenged in the federal courts. The eventual outcome will depend on whether California can convince five United States Supreme Court justices that the state has a compelling reason for each law that infringes the fundamental rights of gun owners.
And there’s one more thing California gun owners can do. They can propose an amendment to the state Constitution that recognizes the right to keep and bear arms.
California is one of only a handful of states with a constitution that lacks an equivalent to the Second Amendment. The others are Maryland, Minnesota and New York. The constitutions of New Jersey and Iowa guarantee a right of “defending life and liberty” without mentioning firearms.
Every other state in the union guarantees the equivalent of Second Amendment rights in its state constitution, from Maine — “Every citizen has a right to keep and bear arms and this right shall never be questioned” — to Nevada — “Every citizen has the right to keep and bear arms for security and defense, for lawful hunting and recreational use and for other lawful purposes.”
If Californians had that protection, it would be a lot harder for state and local officials to bulldoze the rights of law-abiding gun owners.
With a little effort, a proposed state constitutional amendment could be qualified for the 2018 general election ballot, and every candidate could be asked if they support the right to keep and bear arms.
Voters should know which politicians think constitutional rights are written in chalk.