California Gov. Gavin Newsom is expected to build a future presidential run on things most Democrats may not be willing to do. In June, the governor introduced a constitutional amendment to place some restrictions on gun purchases, including limiting gun purchases to people over 21 and requiring background checks. And now, the governor has signed what he describes as several new gun safety measures into law.
Gavin Newsom Pushes An Important Agenda
One of those laws imposes “an 11 percent excise tax on firearms and ammunition sold by gun manufacturers and dealers,” according to Newsom’s press release, with the new money going to fund “school safety and violence prevention programs.”
According to the AP, the federal government currently collects a tax on guns and ammo sales, but the Newsom measure would add to that in California, making it the only state to do so. The law is likely to face at least one court challenge.
Other measures passed into law include strengthening the state’s public carry regulations, “microstamping” on handgun cartridges, and efforts aimed at “ keeping guns away from potentially dangerous individuals.”
Newsom had signed several different measures, introduced by different lawmakers, into law. And the bill comes less than a week after a U.S. District Court judge struck down the state’s ban on large-capacity magazines.
“While radical judges continue to strip away our ability to keep people safe, California will keep fighting — because gun safety laws work. The data proves they save lives: California’s gun death rate is 43% lower than the rest of the nation. These new laws will make our communities and families safer,” Newsom said in a statement.
Assuming that Newsom runs for president in 2028, he would be the first Democrat in decades to make the gun issue a major part of his pitch to the Democratic electorate. And while there’s an established phenomenon that an incoming Democratic administration leads gun scales to skyrocket out of fear of new restrictions, the gun issue has rarely been a major one in competitive Democratic primaries in recent decades. And no recent Democratic president has made gun restriction a major priority at the federal level since Bill Clinton banned assault weapons as part of the 1994 crime bill.
Democrats in Congress have proposed a 1,000 percent excise tax on assault weapons in both the previous and current Congress, but neither proposal ever went anywhere.
Newsom, while he is not currently running for president and has endorsed President Biden, is scheduled to attend Wednesday’s presidential debate on the Biden campaign’s behalf in order to lead “response efforts.” The debate is being held at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, which is in Newsom’s home state.
And it won’t be the only debate in Newsom’s immediate future. The California governor is set to debate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in November on Fox News, in a revival of an idea that had first been proposed earlier this year. Fox host Sean Hannity will moderate the debate, which will take place on November 30 in Georgia.
“We’ve agreed to the debate — provided there is no cheering section, no hype videos or any of the other crutches DeSantis requested. We want a real debate — not a circus,” a Newsom spokesman told Politico.
A rare debate in which one participant is an active presidential candidate and the other is not, the Newsom-DeSantis clash is likely to contrast the two very different styles of governance between the two men. DeSantis is clearly hoping for a bounce that he failed to get from the first of the actual Republican debates, while Newsom is hoping to show that he can go onto Fox News, with a likely hostile moderator, and do well. Many top Democrats, in recent election cycles, have avoided that network.
“I’m looking forward to providing viewers with an informative debate about the everyday issues and governing philosophies that impact the lives of every American,” Hannity said in a statement to Politico.
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Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Stephen has authored thousands of articles over the years that focus on politics, technology, and the economy for over a decade. Follow him on X (formerly Twitter) at @StephenSilver, and subscribe to his Substack newsletter.