California Gov. Gavin Newsom faced harsh criticism from the National Rifle Association after claiming that the Second Amendment was becoming a “suicide pact” while surrounded by at least four armed security guards.
Newsom made the comments during an interview with CBS News in the Los Angeles suburb of Monterey Park on Jan. 24 after two mass shootings took place in the state within days of each other.
A total of 11 people were killed in a mass shooting at a dance studio in Monterey on Saturday, while nine others were injured. The suspect, 72-year-old Huu Can Tran, later killed himself in the back of his van during a standoff with police.
Just days later, on Monday, six men and two women were shot, with seven dying from their injuries, in Half Moon Bay, near San Francisco, when a gunman opened fire in two different locations. One of the male victims underwent surgery at Stanford and is in stable condition, CBS reported.
The suspect in that shooting, 66-year-old Chunli Zhao, is in custody. He is expected to appear in court for an arraignment Wednesday afternoon, according to officials.
Amy Hunter, the NRA’s director for media relations, pointed out that Newsom had an armed escort as he made the statement, in an interview with Fox News.
“Gov. Newsom made that statement while flanked by at least four armed guards,” Hunter said. “That is the definition of hypocrisy.”
Speaking to CBS, Newsom, a Democrat, stated that “nothing about this is surprising. Everything about this is infuriating,” in reference to the latest shootings. “The Second Amendment is becoming a suicide pact.”
After receiving pushback from CBS host Norah O’Donnell, the governor added that he has “no ideological opposition” against people who “reasonably and responsibly” own guns, get background checks, are trained on how to use them and make sure they’re locked away from children.
“I’ve never suggested that,” he said. “That’s what they immediately do: ‘He wants to take away your guns.’ I just want to take away weapons of war that are illegal on the streets of California and should be illegal across the United States.”
Newsom noted that, last year in California, 1,284 people were unable to purchase firearms in the state, which has some of the most strict gun laws in the country. The state has banned the sale of military-style weapons and requires waiting periods and background checks to purchase firearms.
Additionally, red flag laws have been passed that allow California courts, when requested by family members or authorities, to confiscate guns from people deemed a danger to themselves or others.
More recently, California passed legislation which would require gun manufacturers to pay out strict penalties in civil court if their firearms are used in a crime, legislation which was later overturned by a higher court.
According to advocacy groups Everytown for Gun Safety and Giffords Law Center, California is the top state for gun safety in the United States, being given an “A” grade by the latter.
California’s incredibly restrictive gun laws did nothing to prevent the Monterey Park shooter from being armed with a “magazine-fed semiautomatic assault pistol” with a large capacity magazine attached to it. The pistol is illegal in the state.
When asked how the gunman was able to procure the illegal weapon, Newsom told CBS: “Exactly, we will figure it out. That’s going to happen. You got to enforce laws. Things fall through the cracks, but it doesn’t mean you give up.”
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