In the ongoing battle for gun safety, California’s Legislature recently wrapped up its annual session with a mix of victories and disappointments. While strides have been made in enhancing regulations, some decisions have raised eyebrows, especially one involving a new excise tax on firearm and ammunition sales. In this blog post, we’ll explore the hits and misses of California’s recent gun control legislation.
Miss: The New 11% Excise Tax
One of the most contentious moves by the Legislature was the approval of an 11% state excise tax on firearm and ammunition sales. Critics argue that the knee-jerk reaction to problems was to raise taxes rather than reevaluate spending priorities.
Governor Gavin Newsom’s stance on this tax remains uncertain, as gun control groups lobby for its approval. However, many are urging him to veto it, and here’s why.
Hit: Resuming Restrictions on Concealed Weapons
A legislative bullseye was achieved with a bill that reinstates restrictions on carrying concealed weapons in public. Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court essentially dismantled the old law, but the proposed new regulation makes perfect sense.
Carrying loaded firearms everywhere, including bars, city halls, and playgrounds, isn’t a safe or sensible practice. State Senator Anthony Portantino, the author of Senate Bill 2, summed it up well: “You don’t need a gun to go to your daughter’s soccer game; you need a water bottle and orange slices.”
Miss: The Call for a Constitutional Convention
Governor Newsom’s proposal for a constitutional convention to establish a 28th Amendment for federal gun controls raises concerns.
While universal background checks, a minimum age of 21 for buyers, and waiting periods are already California law, a constitutional convention is a risky endeavor. Such a convention could potentially be dominated by red states, resulting in strengthened gun rights and weakened other protections.
Why a Constitutional Convention is a Bad Idea
In today’s political climate, Newsom’s chances of getting a constitutional amendment that enhances gun control ratified by three-fourths of the states are slim. The risk of unintended consequences, such as undermining the 1st Amendment, looms large. Critics, including constitutional scholar Erwin Chemerinsky, label it a “terrible idea” with no realistic prospects of success.
The Tax Conundrum
Returning to the contentious excise tax on firearms and ammunition, proponents argue it mirrors a century-old federal excise tax supported by the firearms industry. However, there’s a crucial difference.
The federal tax funds wildlife conservation, a cause that hunters endorse. In contrast, California’s proposed tax would fund anti-violence programs, school safety, and law enforcement—initiatives that benefit all Californians. Therefore, it’s reasonable to question why only gun owners should bear the cost.
A Balanced Approach
California boasts a record-breaking $311 billion budget this year, suggesting that there should be sufficient funds to support worthwhile programs, including those addressing gun violence.
While the intentions behind the excise tax are commendable, it may not be the most equitable solution. Gun owners and non-gun owners alike should share the responsibility for funding essential safety and violence prevention programs.
California’s journey toward gun safety and control is marked by both accomplishments and pitfalls. While the Legislature has made progress, such as restrictions on concealed weapons, the excise tax and the call for a constitutional convention raise concerns.
Achieving effective gun control requires a balanced approach that prioritizes safety without disproportionately burdening one group. As the state continues its efforts, it’s vital to consider the broader implications and strive for solutions that benefit all Californians.