Welcome to the Golden State!
If you have not heard of Gavin Newsom, know that he is currently the Lt. Governor of California and he aims to take over the governor’s job from Jerry Brown in 2018. His path was cleared when Kamala Harris decided to move to Washington and take over Barbara Boxer’s U.S. Senate seat. Mr. Newsom announced he will be sponsoring a statewide initiative to further strengthen the gun laws in California, which are already the toughest in the nation. (Note: I am neither a gun owner nor member of the NRA. Also, I have read the initiative and interviewed the organization behind it for this column.)
Newsom laid out five points to incorporate in his initiative which we will review point-by-point:
1. Magazines with a capacity of 11 or more rounds must be taken out of state, sold to a licensed firearms dealer or turned over to law enforcement.
Comment: You cannot buy anything over a 10-round magazine in California and have not been able to since 2000. There are guns that were grandfathered in when that rule became law and many of them are built with 12- or 15-round magazines and do not have substitute 10-round magazines. The sponsors could supply no evidence that the grandfathered guns had been involved in any criminal activity in the last 15 years. Law-abiding residents would de facto have these guns confiscated. This is totally unenforceable unless you go door-to-door and confiscate the guns. Does anyone believe criminals are turning over their magazines?
2. People will have to report lost or stolen firearms to local law enforcement.
Comment: Most law-abiding residents do that now. Their guns are expensive and insured. Only people who own cheap guns or criminals do not report lost or stolen guns and this law will not change that. Though the initiative does not establish it, someone who unknowingly has a gun stolen that is then used in a crime would be open to lawsuits for its illegal use.
3. When a person is added to the database of people prohibited from purchasing or owning a firearm, the California Dept. of Justice will be required to inform the federal instant criminal background check system.
Comment: You mean that is not done now? It is part of the California law now; this is just changing from “may” report to “must” report to the feds. You need an initiative for that? This is an administrative task and has no place in an initiative.
4. A new process will be developed for felons and others prohibited from owning firearms to give up their guns.
Comment: Felons already cannot own guns, so if they have guns they are already up to no good. This will allow expanded police authority to request a warrant just stating they have a suspicion of having a gun.
5. Background checks will have to be done at point of sale for ammunition. Also, those selling ammunition will need an additional license to do so.
Comment: This is the most controversial point. This is what Newsom said about this:
“If you’re going to purchase ammunition you should purchase it from a licensed dealer and you should be subject to the same background you’re subject to with gun sales.”
Law-abiding residents already purchase their ammo from licensed dealers. If someone is buying from other sources that is because the seller is skirting the law and that will not change with this law.