Prop 63: Gavin Newsom’s One-Man Fight For Gun and Ammo Control Waged Against Ummm Nobody.
We suspect that a large number of voters, understandably fed-up with mass-shootings in our country, will read the title of this proposition and immediately vote “Yes.” We hope our readers are more discerning. For those who lean “yes” thinking some control is better than no control, we’d suggest you read the 32 pages (yup it’s single-spaced) of legislation that is included in this proposition as well as the countless cross-referenced state laws that it involves. Don’t feel like doing that? Well, that’s part of why we are not fans of legislation by initiative. That research, hearings from different stakeholders, consideration of opposing positions, and reams of position papers and analysis are what responsible lawmakers consider before implementing an exceedingly complex set of regulations.
That may make you wonder – why is this proposed as an initiative rather than simply a law? That question becomes even more sinister when you consider that California’s legislators (both houses) are completely dominated by Democrats. So, one might ask why is the Democratic Lieutenant Governor circumventing his near super-majority in both houses and taking this issue directly to the voters? That is among the questions posed by the Mercury News Editorial Board (not exactly a gun-toting group) posed when it came out against this proposition. Add to the mystery the indisputable fact that California consistently has among the strictest gun lawsand the fact that the legislature is currently considering a host of measures, many of which overlap the issues in Newsome’s proposition and you are left with the distinct feeling that something is rotten in Denmark… or at least Sacramento.
Turning to the legislation itself we find a mixed bag of regulations – we can see some logic in limiting gun magazine sizes and maybe even regulating the purchase and sale of ammunition (though that’s one were we can see both sides and feel some better analysis would sure be helpful), we are uncomfortable with the idea of making it a crime to lose track of one’s gun or ammunition and fail to report the loss within five days, and equally uncomfortable with making it a felony to steal a gun (we doubt thieves are keeping track of current gun theft-punishment statutes and generally think we already have a few too many folks in expensive long-term incarceration), we are also critical of the idea that an owner who has their own ammunition needs to take it to a licensed seller when they come to California, have the shopkeeper wave a magic wand of approval over the existing ammunition, and then carry it back out of the store – in fact some of these pedantic regulations seems like little more than an effort to annoy gun owners. We also hate the fact that the proposition requires a super-majority to implement any future changes – this is a regulatory scheme, necessarily filled with minutiae, something that often requires “tweaks” to fix unanticipated minor problems, it isn’t the bill of rights. Regulatory schemes, especially ones as broad as this one, must be capable of easy modification by successive legislatures. Requiring a super-majority to correct a regulatory scheme is just stupid (not a term we use lightly).
We picked these few issues as the low-hanging fruit but the simple reality is that this is far too intricate a set of regulations for us to decide upon in a general election; especially when substantially the same issues are being tackled by our professional, paid, legislators right now. The reality is that California is a massive state. A large number of California’s population lives in rural areas where gun ownership is practical, commonplace, and arguably necessary. Another part of the population has what in our judgment is an irrational love affair with guns and yet another part has an equally irrational hatred for those same objects – we think the legislature is best suited to weigh these multi-faceted issues and decide them. In fact, just during the drafting of this piece, the legislature already considered 11 new gun control measures – six of which have already been signed into law (including magazine size restrictions and weapons restrictions).
We are disappointed that the L-Gov seems to be spending public money and wasting our time and the precious attention-span of serious voters on what is a fairly obvious contrived fight aimed at manufacturing a political win against a non-existent enemy. We agree with Democratic Senate Pro Tem Kevin de Leòn who has openly urged Newsom to retract the proposition.
Recommendation: Strong NO