Skelton: Newsom’s strong message on California mass shootings

Governor Gavin Newsom has spoken more eloquently than anyone about the three mass shootings in California that took place in quick succession and killed at least 24 people.

“What the hell is going on?” The longtime gun control advocate simply asked Tuesday in Half Moon Bay, where a 66-year-old farm worker was accused of fatally shooting seven employees and injuring another over a complaint.

“Only in America. … The absurdity.”

Yes, America is certainly not great at gun deaths and never will be as long as we are blocked by much-needed national firearms regulations by Republicans.

Among the major industrial nations, the United States has by far the highest rate of gun homicides. No other country is even remotely as far away. That’s because other nations severely restrict access to firearms.

America can’t do that because of the 2nd Amendment, but we could do a much better job nationally than we do.

UCLA law professor Adam Winkler, who specializes in gun law, winces when politicians and pundits crow about California’s strict gun restrictions.

“We need to stop saying things like, ‘California has strict gun laws,'” he says. “That’s just compared to Texas and Mississippi. Compared to England, Japan and France, California has one of the loosest gun restrictions in the world. We don’t have incredibly strict gun laws.”

I’m not always a fan of Newsom’s rhetoric. It’s often overly emotional, terribly wordy, and overly repetitive. This is especially true when he tries to boost his national standing among Democrats by attacking conservative governors in Texas and Florida. I think he has a lot of reason in his own state to fret about issues affecting other Californians.

But he had the right tone and length on these recordings, especially in Half Moon Bay, a small coastal town just south of San Francisco. There he met with the victims’ families, local leaders and reporters.

Newsom spoke of his frustration to say “the same thing over and over again” after each mass shooting. And aren’t we all fed up with that?

“I have no ideological opposition to anyone responsibly owning a gun, but what the hell is wrong with us that we are allowing these large capacity weapons of war and clips to sit on the streets and sidewalks?” he has asked. “Why did we allow this culture, this pattern to continue?”

That’s a question most of us ask ourselves over and over again.

“Where was the Republican Party on gun safety reform?” the Democratic governor continued. “They fought it at every turn. … Shame on you.”

Where from has been the GOP? Appealing the relatively small cult of gun worshipers and getting tougher, in large part due to the Gerrymandering of US house districts.

Red state legislatures draw house district boundaries to make them safer for Republicans versus Democrats. Then other Republicans become the greatest threat to GOP incumbents.

In a competitive party primary, gun enthusiasts are often the key swing voters. And they are single voters — people whose decisions about candidates depend solely on a politician’s stance on guns.

GOP congressmen fear they will be ousted from office by fellow Republican voters if they vote for sweeping gun control.

In contrast, most American voters – and certainly Californians – support national gun control, such as These include requiring universal background checks, banning assault weapons and limiting ammunition magazine capacity to 10 rounds. But gun control isn’t high on their list of priorities.

“It’s not in people’s heads,” says veteran Democratic adviser Bill Carrick. “Inflation. Taxes. Boom. They’re on people’s minds all the time. The gun problem comes and goes while mass shootings come and go.”

California has arguably the toughest gun control laws in the country, but they’re being gradually eroded by conservative courts led by the US Supreme Court. For example, California’s ban on high-capacity magazines is in the limbo of a lawsuit.

And even if we survive tough restrictions, they’re at the mercy of neighboring states – Nevada and Arizona – which have lax restrictions. These neighbors are a great source of weapons for Californians who cannot arm themselves locally.

For this reason, national regulations are required – such as e.g. B. Sensible background checks and California Senator Dianne Feinstein’s long-advocated ban on assault weapons.

“The constant stream of mass shootings has a common thread: They involve nearly all offensive weapons,” Feinstein said in a statement as she re-introduced her bill Monday. “That’s because these weapons were designed to kill as many people as quickly as possible. They have no place in our communities or schools.”

California was way ahead of the curve in banning assault weapons, passing the first in 1989 when Republican George Deukmejian was governor.

Deukmejian was then viewed as a mainstream conservative. Today he would be seen by his party as a leftist.

Like many people, I suspect, my first reaction upon hearing about the shooting that killed 11 and injured nine at a dance hall in Monterey Park frequented by Asian Americans was that the culprit was a young white supremacist male. Not correct. It was a 72-year-old Asian American.

So there is no common demographic or motive for these mass murderers.

“The only common denominator is those damn guns,” Newsom said.


dr Amy Barnhorst, psychiatrist and associate director of the Violence Prevention Research Program at UC Davis, says of mass shooters, “We can’t solve all of their problems. But we can stop these people from behaving by keeping them away from big guns.”

That won’t happen, however, as long as a few heavily armed gun enthusiasts outstrip the rest of us politically. The majority must use its most powerful weapon, the vote. Skelton: Newsom’s strong message on California mass shootings

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