The word “quixotic” inevitably appears in coverage of Gavin Newsom’s campaign for a Constitutional amendment enshrining common-sense gun control. The Democratic governor of California calls his effort a “mechanism to address the echo chamber of despair”—the despair arising from ever-more-frequent mass shootings and conservative court decisions rolling back even modest gun restrictions. Newsom’s proposed Twenty-Eighth Amendment is hardly the comprehensive measure this country would need to stop the bloodshed. It would merely raise the minimum age to buy a gun from eighteen to twenty-one, mandate universal background checks, impose a waiting period for purchasing a gun, and ban assault weapons. The proposal is bound to go nowhere, but the governor insists that something has to be done. “I got four damn kids, dude, I can’t take it anymore,” Newsom recently said. “This is insane.”
That word is not too strong. Before July 4, the United States was already on pace to exceed the carnage of last year. Then the long holiday weekend brought shootings in Baltimore, Chicago, Cleveland, and Philadelphia; in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and Elizabeth City, North Carolina; in Lexington, Kentucky, and Shreveport, Louisiana, and many other places—twenty-two mass shootings in seventeen states that killed at least twenty Americans and injured more than a hundred others.