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Politics & Policy

Newsom slams Republicans, McCarthy after Half Moon Bay mass shooting: ‘Only in America’

Gov. Gavin Newsom addresses reporters at a press conference in Half Moon Bay while calling for stricter gun control laws, particularly around "weapons of war" and large-capacity magazines. | Garrett Leahy/The Standard

Only in America.

That was the theme of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s speech Tuesday in Half Moon Bay as he waved a raggedy list of talking points about mass shootings.

But these talking points weren’t for Tuesday’s massacre in Half Moon Bay, where a man walked around a mushroom farm and neighboring property and gunned down seven of his coworkers. 

These were talking points he crafted for San Jose

And the Gilroy Garlic Festival

And for Monterey Park, where just three days ago a man entered a ballroom dance studio in the Los Angeles suburb and fatally shot 11 people celebrating the eve of Lunar New Year.

“I’ve got no ideological opposition to someone owning a gun responsibly, you know,” Newsom said. “But what the hell is wrong with us if we allow these weapons of war and large-capacity clips out on the streets or sidewalks?”

Gov. Gavin Newsom called Republican leaders "frauds" in dealing with gun violence legislation in the face of a mass shooting epidemic. | Garrett Leahy/The Standard

Newsom’s speech railed off a list of killing fields across California and other states, as the number of mass shootings across the country this year currently outpaces the number of days in January.

The speech was obligatory in his role as governor, and Newsom cited the actions California has taken to curb these horrific tragedies through background checks and bans on high-capacity assault rifles. 

“We led the nation across a series of gun safety measures, and the data bears it out,” Newsom said. “We've seen a 55% reduction in gun deaths when we initiated those progressive reforms from 1993 to 2017. And you look at our gun death rates: 37% below the national average. Gun safety works.”

And while the suspected Half Moon Bay shooter appears to have legally obtained the semi-automatic weapon used in the killings, Newsom said a single incident misses the larger point.

“Only in America: No. 1 in gun ownership, No. 1 in gun deaths,” he said. “It's not even complicated. And guess what, this happened on our watch.”

But every tragic play has a character responsible for the downfall, and in his diagnosis, Newsom pointed to our national addiction to guns and feckless Republican leaders for the unraveling of public safety in America. 

This may all sound like someone considering a run for president, and that wouldn’t necessarily be incorrect. Newsom has been transparent about his rhetoric in calling out the political opposition in major media stops, and finding an easily identifiable villain only helps to elevate his status as a presidential contender for either 2024 or 2028.

In between boastful turns of phrase about California’s leadership despite noting the struggles low-income farm workers face, Newsom offered a scathing critique of Republicans and the responsibility they bear for mass shootings. 

“This is where—and forgive me, what the hell do I know—you just gotta call some folks out,” Newsom said. “I'm still waiting for Kevin McCarthy, the leader of the House of Representatives, who purports to represent the people of the state of California, a proud remarkable district in Kern County. We haven’t heard one damn word from him. Not since Monterey Park. Not what happened here [in Half Moon Bay]. Not one word. Not one expression of prayers, condolences—nothing. 

“And it should surprise nobody. Where's he been on gun safety? Where's the Republican Party been on gun safety? They blocked it every step of the way. One state can't do it alone. Shame on them. And shame on those that allow and perpetuate that to be rewarded politically. Shame on them. Shame on these judges that are rolling back the laws that we've established in the state of California. Shame on them. You deserve better. We deserve better. And so I'm here processing, like all of us, the absurdity, the theater.

“Only in America.”