Friday, April 16, 2004

Gun Rights -- California Petition Drive

Evidently there has been a petition drive going on since early March to ammend the California Constitution to strengthen the right to keep and bear arms. I can find no information as to how many signatures have been gathered or whether this thing is still live. The fact that neither of the 2 official websites has been updated recently gives me pause.

The Proposition:

The inalienable right to defend life and liberty as set forth in Article I, Section 1 of the California Constitution includes the fundamental right of each person to keep and bear arms for the defense of self, family, and home. This right shall not be infringed.

1. All State government action regulating the right of law-abiding persons to acquire and possess arms for the defense of self, family and home, shall be subject to strict scrutiny, in the same respect as the freedoms of speech and of the press. All county, city, and local government action on this subject is preempted by state law and this Amendment.

2. This Amendment does not limit the State from regulating the acquisition and possession of arms by: felons, minors, the mentally incompetent, and any person subject to restraining orders based upon their own violent conduct.

This seems like a weak ammendment to me, but it is better than the nothing that the state constitution currently says about gun rights. The Article I, Section 1 cited above reads:

"All people are by nature free and independent and have
inalienable rights. Among these are enjoying and defending life and
liberty, acquiring, possessing, and protecting property, and pursuing
and obtaining safety, happiness, and privacy."

I would prefer that the petition went directly for a "shall issue" permit to carry, but I suppose it is necessary to establish the right to bear arms in the state constitution first. I would be happier if the language simply affirmed the right to bear arms, rather than talking so much about the power of the state to regulate. I suppose the idea is to circumvent the perceived leftward tendencies of Californians, but my experience is that such tactics rarely fool anyone. The left will oppose any such law, regardless of how it is worded and the judicial activists will use any opportunity to minimize its impact.

Nevertheless, it is worth attempting, even if only for the fact that the anti-gun lobby will have to spend money to oppose it.

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