No on 63

I’ve been ignoring Prop. 63 because somewhere along the line I became something of an absolutist. If the second amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms, then I should view rules governing arms with the same skepticism that I’d view rules governing speech. If I think that a rule prohibiting me from posting on the internet until I’ve passed a background check is an infringement on my right to freedom of the press, then I should also think that a rule prohibiting me from buying a gun until I’ve passed a background check is an infringement on my right to bear arms. The rules for what is or isn’t a *reasonable* infringement are different – because retrictions on weapons in the name of public safety raise different ‘reasonableness’ concerns than restrictions on speech in the name of public safety, and are easier to justify as reasonable – but in the context of a federal constitutional rule *prohibiting infringement of the right*, if I think it’s infringed, then reasonableness doesn’t enter into the picture.

So Prop. 63 has the *appearance* of being a law I don’t even need to think about before rejecting; if it infringes the right to bear arms, then it’s unconstitutional, and I’m not going to vote for it, *even if it’s a policy that I would think was good absent the constitutional prohibition*.

Still, nothing is absolute, and the path of wisdom is to read and consider before rejecting.

—What does Prop. 63 do?—

(a) requires that people who lose their firearms, or whose firearms are stolen, report it to local law enforcement within five days of “the time he or she knew or reasonably should have known that the firearm had been stolen or lost”.

Note: “Reasonably should have known” means that someone can be punished under this rule *even if they didn’t know that the gun had been lost or stolen*, if a jury decides that a reaosnable person would have known. I think this rule is good policy (making it easier to track lost or stolen firearms has strong public safety benefits) and is constitutional (i don’t see how it infringes your right to bear arms, to require you to report when your arms have gone missing), and i’m not sure i’m comfortable with the reasonably-should-have-known language. It’s pretty standard, to be sure, and yet, it runs the risk of punishing people for conduct outside of their control.

(b) it makes it illegal (an infraction or misdemeanor) to possess a “large-capacit magazine”. This enhances a provision adopted last year (which made it illegal to import, manufacture, or sell, such, but allowed people who already had them to keep them).

“large-capacity magazine” is defined as “any ammunition feeding device with the capacity to accept more than 10 rounds”. This ban is probably good policy, in that it makes it more difficult for people to use guns to commit mass attacks, AND it strikes me as being unconstitutional.

(c) it requires that any ammunition sale (eg, between two random people) be processed through a licensed dealer.

what? i can’t sell ammunition to my best friend without the intervention of a licensed dealer? that seems *massively* intrusive.

(d) it prohibits, as of July 1, 2019, a licensed ammunition vendor from selling or transferring ammunition to anyone who isn’t on the “centralized list of authorized ammunition purchasers”.

Under this plan, persons 18 years or older can apply for an authorization (which lasts four years), which shall be revoked for a variety of reasons. Applicants can be charged a $50 fee. Approval is subject to a background check.

So … to obtain ammunition you’d have to apply in advance and pay the state $50. The equivalent for the first amendment is horrifying.

(e) it requires that anyone who is convicted of certain offenses must relinquish their firearms by transferring either to local law enforcement or a third party who is allowed to possess firearms.

I’m kinda shocked that’s not already the law.

— Let’s make this more complicated —

California adopted a bunch of new firearm regulation rules during this last legislative session, including a rule requiring a license to sell ammunition, and a rule required licensed sellers to check to see if you are on a “cannot buy” list before selling to you. That latter rule seems much better than the rule in the proposition, in that it’s a “sell unless forbidden” rule rather than a “sell only if allowed” rule. These new rules were adopted *after* the proposition qualified for the ballot.

The complicating factor is that the legislature passed rules which *change the effect of the proposition* if the proposition passes. Those changes override the “only if allowed” rule to make it an “unless disallowed” rule, and allows the state to charge a $1 fee per transaction for checking to see if your name is on the list.

————

I don’t understand the need for this legislation, and I think it’s unconstitutional — the ammunition licensing provisions, and the inability to sell to your friends without going through a licensed dealer, are a gross intrusion on the right to bear arms. I’m not convinced they’re *reasonable*, and I’m fairly certain they’re not constitutional.

I will vote against.

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