Every day, over 120 Americans are killed due to gun violence and more than 200 are shot and wounded.1,2 In September, the United States experienced its 500th mass shooting in 2023, with 230 of those being school shootings.3 Furthermore, it is estimated that there are approximately more than 393 million firearms in civilian hands which outnumber the number of people across the nation.4 According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 49,000 people died from gun-inflicted injuries in the US in 2021, the most recent year for which complete data is available.5,6
California has the most stringent gun laws in the country, leading to the eighth lowest rate of gun deaths and sixth lowest gun ownership rate among all the states. Furthermore, in 2022, California enacted new laws to further regulate ghost guns, hold firearms industry members accountable, and prohibit the marketing of firearms to children, among others.7 According to the most recent gun law scorecard by the Giffords Law Center, California ranked as the number one state for gun safety and has a 39% lower gun death rate than the national average.8
In September 2023, California lawmakers approved of a Senate Joint Resolution proposed by Governor Gavin Newsom which calls for a Constitutional Convention to add an amendment to the U.S. Constitution related to gun safety.4,9 Senate Joint Resolution No. 7, also known as the Right to Safety Amendment, combines four major gun safety measures together: (1) raise the minimum age to buy a gun from 18 to 21, (2) mandate universal background checks, (3) institute a waiting period for all gun purchases, and (4) ban the sale of assault rifles for civilians.4,10 Furthermore, the proposed Right to Safety Amendment would affirm Congress, states, and local governments to enact additional common-sense gun safety regulations.1
In order to pass the Right to Safety Amendment at the federal level, it will require an Article V Convention or amendatory convention to propose amendments to the US Constitution.1 An Article V Convention is a mechanism in the US constitution that allows for changes to the Constitution through a process of proposal, a convention, and ratification.11 Initiating this process requires support from two-thirds of both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate or two-thirds of the state legislatures. Then, the proposed amendment must be ratified by three-fourths of state legislatures or ratifying conventions.11 Given these requirements, it would not be easy for SJR-7 to come to fruition at the federal level, but it is a significant stance taken by the California Legislature to advocate for gun safety as more and more people suffer from gun violence.
Renée Chuang, M.S.
Renée completed her undergraduate education in Biochemistry and Sociology at the University of Oregon. She then received her Master of Science in Global Health at National Taiwan University. Currently, she is pursuing her DrPH in Health Policy and Leadership at Loma Linda University School of Public Health. Her research interests include patient-provider relationships and child welfare. When she is not studying, she can be found exploring local coffee shops in LA or training for a marathon