Gov. Newsom Visits San Diego to Highlight New Efforts to Protect Californians from Gun Violence
Article by: Heather Hope
SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — Gov. Gavin Newsom reiterated his commitment to hold the firearm industry accountable for its products while speaking at the Del Mar Fairgrounds Friday, joined by elected officials to announce proposed legislation to increase certain gun controls.
"I'm sick of being on the defense on this stuff," Newsom said.
Newsom along with several key lawmakers detailed four laws, including tighter ghost gun restrictions and AB 2571 that would prohibit the marketing of certain categories of weapons to children.
Newsom attacked the WEE1 JR-15 .22 Caliber Long Rifle and its advertising of a "gun just like Mom and Dad's.”
"Sitting there and promoting such crap as JR 15s and marketing like Joe Camel marketed to our kids, now guns to our children, and to promote it with a skull and bone in a pacifier, how the hell do they think that is ok?” Newsom said.
But the San Diego County Gun Owners Executive Director Michael Schwartz says the JR 15 is not like an AR 15, it's one step above a BB or pellet gun and is a safe, beginner gun.
"It's illegal for someone under the age of 18 to purchase a firearm, and plus in California, they have made it illegal for adults under the age of 21 to purchase a firearm, so what this is an emotional point to further a political agenda,” Schwartz said.
Saying he had no issues with law-abiding gun owners or even guns themselves, Newsom focused his speech on ghost guns, serial numbers, background checks and civil suits intended to hold manufacturers accountable -- similar to a suit brought by the parents of children killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, who settled for $73 million with arms manufacturer Remington this week.
California Attorney General Rob Bonta says the new bill will ensure that victims have as many paths to their day in court as they would for any other product.
Michael Schwartz says Sandy Hook's settlement has nothing to do with Newsom's bills and won't set any lawsuit precedent in the future.
"You can't sue a manufacturer because a criminal took their product and used it to commit a crime,” Schwartz said.
Senate Majority Leader Emeritus Bob Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, joined the governor to announce the new legislation intended to limit the spread of dangerous assault weapons and ghost guns utilizing similar tactics to Texas' recent abortion law.
"In a just world, a woman's right to choose would be sacrosanct, and California's people would be protected from ghost guns and assault weapons," Hertzberg said. "Sadly, a misguided Supreme Court seems determined to turn common sense on its head."
"With this bill, we take advantage of the court's flawed logic to protect all Californians and save lives," he said. "I look forward to rushing this new bill to the governor's desk to take advantage of the court's guidance to create a safer California."
The Texas state Legislature in 2021 passed a controversial law that bans abortions after six weeks and gave individuals the ability to file civil suits against those in breach of the law. The Supreme Court upheld the legislation 6-3.
"The decision was absurd, but they've opened up the door," Newsom said. "We'll either expose their rank hypocrisy or get them to reconsider the absurdity of their previous ruling."
San Diego County Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer said she was speaking to the proposed legislation as a parent.
"I don't want a future where she has to practice active shooter drills," she said of her daughter. "Ghost gun laws will save lives and target the manufacturers of untraceable weapons."
Ghost guns are unregulated firearms that lack serial numbers by which they can be identified and are typically assembled from purchased or homemade components. Minors or those normally prohibited from owning firearms can purchase such a weapon without a background check.
The county banned such weapons in January, following the lead of the city of San Diego, which banned them in September. City Councilwoman Marni von Wilpert led that ordinance, known as Eliminate Non-serialized Untraceable Firearm Ordinance, prohibiting the possession, purchase, sale, receipt and transportation of non-serialized, unfinished frames and receivers, and non- serialized firearms.
California Attorney General Rob Bonta voiced his full support for the legislation.
"Today, we are mounting a stand against the gun lobby and the sickening wave of gun violence that plagues our streets," he said. "You can't talk about rising crime without talking about the rise in gun violence."
According to the Public Policy Institute of California, in 2020, California saw a rise of more than 500 homicides -- the largest jump in state history since record-keeping began in 1960. Victims were predominantly Black and Latino, male, and killed by guns on streets, parking lots or in vehicles. The Los Angeles Times reported that 2021 marked a 15-year high in homicides and gun violence in the city.
Newsom remarked that the modern gun safety movement began in California, citing then-Governor Ronald Reagan's push against the Black Panthers. The governor noted this 1967 move likely had "a racial component," but that gun control legislation has evolved in the state over time, including the assault weapon ban spurred by a school shooting in Stockton in 1989.
Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, said it was time to hold the firearm industry accountable.
"Every industry in the United States is held responsible for the products they sell, except one. The gun industry," he said.
"We are all victims of their greed, their avarice," he said. "We'll start playing by their rules."
In response to a reporter's question about a possible ballot measure from firearm advocacy groups or manufacturers to dismiss the proposed legislation, Newsom was confident.
"Bring it on," he said. "They'll be crushed. The people of California have no patience for gun violence."