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.

Yes on 58

Proposition 58 is a substantial revision to a previous proposition, Proposition 227 (passed in 1998), which would, in effect, nullify most of the previous proposition.

Disclaimer: I voted against Proposition 227.

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Proposition 227 added a new Chapter to Part 1 of the Education Code, encompassing sections 300-340.

The new chapter included the following changes to state law:

* it required that the teaching of English be done primarily in English, rather than using a student’s primary language as a scaffolding for teaching English
* it required English learners to be taught using “sheltered English immersion” for at most a year, at the end of which time, they would be moved to regular English-language classes.
* it encouraged school districts to mix English learners of different primary languages in the same classrooms

The new chapter allowed the following exceptions, with annually-renewed written parental consent (but required that such consent could only be obtained after the parents *personally visited the school*):

* Children whose language skills were above average for their grade level could opt out of the immersion program
* Children over the age of 10 could opt out of mainstreaing
* Children with special needs who tried a regular English classroom for at least 30 days and the school principal and educational staff determined that due to special needs, mainstreaming would not work

(The full text of Proposition 227 is still available at http://vigarchive.sos.ca.gov/1998/primary/propositions/227text.htm)

Proposition 227 passed by a 61-38 majority.

——

Proposition 58 effectively replaces the entire text of the chapter.

* school districts must provide all pupils with the ability to become proficient in English
* school districts must provide structured English immersion programs
* school districts are encouraged to make native English speaking students proficient in another language
* school districts must solicit input on, and provide to pupils, a variety of instructional methods including “language acquisition programs”
* “language acquisition programs” can include dual-language immersion or transitional programs which use a student’s native language to provide academic instruction, as well as structured english immersion programs

* parents may choose the language acquisition program of their choice (the mandatory visit, the written consent, and the limits on who can get a waiver are repealed)

——

As someone who doesn’t follow education industry politics, I have an obvious first question: why now? Proposition 227, which I opposed, was passed by a sizable majority; what’s happened in the ensuing eighteen years to cause this proposition to be placed on the ballot, and to cause it to be winning in a landslide according to recent polling data (http://www.field.com/fieldpollonline/subscribers/Rls2551.pdf)?

There’s some evidence that this is in part due to a lack of memory; the Field Poll, linked above, shows that the proposition leads 69-14 if you just read the ballot label, but that it *fails* if you mention Proposition 227 first and describe it as a repeal of Proposition 227.

But while lack of memory is enough to explain why people aren’t rallying to the angry defense of a proposition from two decades ago, it doesn’t explain what’s behind the push for the measure.

As usual, the VIG’s arguments for and against are unhelpful. The argument for says that this is needed to enable “up-to-date teaching methods” and thereby would make California’s population better able to handle the rapidly changing world brought about by modern technology.

The argument against denounces Proposition 58 as a dishonest trick and a scam, which is odd because the proposition seems quite straightforward in terms of what it’s trying to do.

Still, the argument against gives a hint as to what is going on. The argument against calls back to a memory of a time when limited english speakers were “forced into spanish-almost-only” classes which made it easy for Spanish-speaking students to skate and never learn English while incentivizing native speakers of other languages to learn Spanish rather than English. To the extent that that gloomy scenario was real, Proposition 58 threatens to *restore* it, and is only an idea the public can entertain because Proposition 227 succeeded in making the problem go away.

If it was a real thing and not a paranoid fear. I voted against in part because I thought it was more paranoid fear than reality, and in part because I believed that dual language immersion can sometimes be a better approach, and thought it was folly to prohibit the use of a better approach.

—-

For people who voted in 1998, it seems to me that your vote should be controlled by how you voted then. Unless there is some new information you can point to which has changed your mind on the issue, if you voted ‘Yes’ on 227 you should vote ‘No’ on 58, and vice-versa, because Proposition 58 is in essence a repeal of Proposiition 227.

If you have new evidence that has caused you to change your mind, I’d like you to share it, because I’m too distant from the situation to have acquired such information.

If you didn’t vote in 1998 and therefore have never voted on this issue before, it seems to me that the fundamental questions are:

* do you believe that dual-language immersion and transitional native-language instruction is a useful tool that can help people learn English? If you do not, then you should vote no on this measure.

* do you believe that dual-language immersion and transitional native-language instruction can be used in the public schools in a way that doesn’t devolve into the “almost spanish-only instruction” nightmare scenario the official opponents envision? If you do not, then you should vote against this measure.

* do you believe that non-english instruction is per se problematic in a public school, even if it is useful and can be done in a way that avoids the parade of horribles? if so, then you should vote against this measure.

Otherwise, I think, you should vote for it.