Trump vs. California: How The Gun Battle Will Be Waged

From gun control to environmental protection, the State of California is at odds with President Elect Trump who will be sworn in as the 45th president of the United States this Friday. As both sides prepare for battle it comes apparent that the primary weapon of the federal government will be their control of the purse strings.

California is now scheduled to receive over $100 billion in federal funding during the 2017 fiscal year, including $78 billion for health and human services. The new administration, and the Republican-controlled Congress, can have significant control over the state by controlling the distribution of these federal dollars.

Knowing this, California lawmakers are preparing for a fight against soon-to-be President Trump and his top officials who said they will push for fundamental changes that will threaten many of the state’s progressive laws.

According to the sfchronicle, to prepare for battle the California Legislature has hired a Washington, D.C., law firm headed by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. It’s also vetting Representative Xavier Becerra, D-Los Angeles, to be state attorney general, a role that could be pivotal in any upcoming clashes with the Trump administration. Becerra was confirmed by the Assembly on Friday and is expected to receive final approval from the Senate in the coming weeks.

As the battle heats up, the gun control controversy can be summed up as follows:

What Trump wants: The president-elect has said governments have no business restricting types of guns that law-abiding citizens can own. He has also called for a national right-to-carry law that would allow gun owners with permits to carry a concealed weapon in one state to carry those firearms legally into any state.

What California has: California has the strictest gun laws in the country, banning a long list of specific assault weapons from being sold or purchased in the state. California law gives county sheriffs and city police chiefs broad discretion when issuing concealed weapons permits.

What could happen: States can enact stricter gun laws than the federal government, but not if Congress passes a law specifically banning those restrictions, said Erwin Chemerinsky, founding dean of the UC Irvine School of Law. “Whenever Congress acts, it has to point to some power in the Constitution,” he said. If Congress wants to override states’ bans on certain firearms, it would likely point to the power to regulate commerce between states, Chemerinsky said. He said Congress could create a national concealed-carry law claiming the same power to regulate commerce, but he said he wasn’t sure it would withstand a legal challenge. UCLA law Professor Adam Winkler, an expert in constitutional law and Second Amendment rights, said, “We are likely to see legal challenges brought by California against new federal policies on guns.”