As California lawmakers vowed Wednesday to pursue emergency gun control to prevent another mass shooting, Gov. Gavin Newsom responded to criticism from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott regarding California's efforts.
Abbott slammed California's gun control approach, saying it's not a real solution.
"We need to realize that people who think that, 'Well, maybe if we can just implement tougher gun laws, it's going to solve it.' Chicago and L.A. and New York disprove that thesis," Abbott said.
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Not long after those comments, Newsom issued a stern response.
"Gov. Abbott just namechecked the state of California," Newsom said. "I would caution him from doing that. Particularly, and you just go to the CDC website and look at that gun murder rate, in 2020, it was 67% higher than the state of California in 2020."
According to gun registration records, as of 2021, Texas has the most registered firearms of any state in the nation. California ranks fourth.
Newsom said lawmakers are now focused on quickly passing bills centered on targeting ghost guns, assault weapons and increased enforcement.
"We're here resolved, focused, energetically on moving well over a dozen bills forward, getting them to my desk, where I will enthusiastically be signing these bills by the end of next month," Newsom said.
California hasn’t been immune to gun violence, Newsom acknowledged — a May 15 church attack killed a man who helped stop the shooter and an April 3 gunfight left six dead in Sacramento. But Newsom also said mass shootings have prompted the state’s nation-leading gun control efforts.
The state already requires strict waiting periods for gun purchases, background checks for buying both guns and ammunition, and limits assault-style weapons and ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 bullets.
Newsom, as he has in the past, also criticized “extremist” federal judges who have ruled against some of California’s gun laws — Judge Roger Benitez compared assault weapons to Swiss Army knives and Judge Ryan Nelson earlier this month wrote the majority opinion blocking the state’s ban on the sale of semiautomatic weapons to adults under 21.
“You can ask Judge Benitez about how he’s feeling about this last 10 days,” Newsom said. As for Nelson, “I wonder how he’s feeling right now (after) what happened in Buffalo and what happened in Texas.” Both of those shootings were carried out by 18-year-old men using semiautomatic weapons.
Benitez and Nelson both declined comment through spokesmen. Abbott’s office did not immediately comment.
The Firearms Policy Coalition, a pro gun rights group, issued a statement criticizing “anti-rights politicians” who it said are offering “false hope” while having “disgustingly commandeered these tragedies in a rush to enact their agenda of disarmament and authoritarianism.” The group did not name any politicians.
Democratic legislative leaders who spoke alongside Newsom at the Capitol promised to speed measures that already were in the works to limit untraceable “ghost” guns, give people the right to sue gun manufacturers and dealers, and add further safeguards on gun sales. Members of the state Assembly, several of them in tears, on Wednesday moved to advance a package of five related bills.
They include one with bipartisan support that would limit the use of pre-made parts that can be used to assemble untraceable ghost guns. It would bar making a firearm without a serial number and require anyone currently possessing such a gun to apply to the state for a serial number by July 1, 2023.
Republican Assemblymember Suzette Martinez Valladares supported the bill but warned that it “will be meaningless” without a comprehensive approach that also includes resources for mental health.
The Associated Press contributed to the report.