By Emily Hoeven
CalMatters is an independent public journalism venture covering California state politics and government. For more info, visit calmatters.org.
What’s more American than a mass shooting?
That was the question posed by the Sacramento Bee editorial board following a spate of Fourth of July shootings in California and across the country: In Highland Park, Illinois, a gunman killed at least six people and injured dozens more during an Independence Day parade. In Sacramento, one person was killed and four others shot outside a nightclub early Monday (July 4), three months after a gang shootout that left six dead and 12 injured. And in South Los Angeles, a street takeover ended in a fatal shooting early Monday.
The shootings came just a few days after Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law a pair of bills that he said would help protect Californians, especially kids, from rising rates of gun violence: One bill tightens restrictions on so-called “ghost guns”—those intentionally made untraceable—while another would hold companies liable for marketing certain firearms to minors.
Newsom: “As the Supreme Court rolls back important gun safety protections and states across the country treat gun violence as inevitable, California is doubling down on commonsense gun safety measures that save lives.”
But Sam Paredes, executive director of Gun Owners of California, told the Associated Press he believes both laws will be overturned under the higher standard for gun rights established by very U.S. Supreme Court ruling Newsom referenced.
Interestingly, guns are not among the hot-button topics Newsom mentions in a 30-second ad from his reelection campaign that began airing Monday not in California, but on Fox News stations across Florida.
Newsom: “It’s Independence Day, so let’s talk about what’s going on in America. Freedom is under attack in your state. Republican leaders, they’re banning books, making it harder to vote, restricting speech in classrooms, even criminalizing women and doctors. I urge all of you living in Florida to join the fight, or join us in California, where we still believe in freedom.”
The ad appears to be Newsom’s latest attempt to elevate his national profile amid intensifying culture wars—and his latest attempt to draw a stark contrast with Ron DeSantis, the Republican governor of Florida said to be contemplating a 2024 presidential bid.
Newsom told CNN: “We’re as different as daylight and darkness.”
Newsom has repeatedly said he has no plans to run for president, but when “he makes these moves, it makes political folks roll their eyes and say, ‘Of course he’s running,” Andrew Acosta, a Democratic political strategist, told the San Francisco Chronicle.
Due to what aides said was a prior family commitment, Newsom didn’t participate in a virtual meeting President Joe Biden held Friday with a handful of Democratic governors to discuss the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning the federal constitutional right to an abortion.
Newsom left California Friday and will return at the end of the week, Anthony York, the governor’s senior advisor for communications, told me Monday. He did not respond to questions about Newsom’s whereabouts.
Newsom took action on a handful of key items before his departure. Let’s dive in:
- He signed into law a controversial bill to decriminalize loitering with the intent to commit prostitution, a move applauded by supporters who said it will prevent police from detaining women of color and transgender people simply because of how they look or where they’re standing. But critics warned the move would endanger trafficking victims while enabling pimps and sex buyers, a concern to which Newsom alluded in a signing message: “We must be cautious about [the law’s] implementation. My Administration will monitor crime and prosecution trends for any possible unintended consequences and will act to mitigate any such impacts.”
- He granted 17 pardons, 15 commutations and one medical reprieve. Among those who received a pardon was Sara Kruzan, who spent nearly two decades behind bars for killing at age 16 a man who had sexually trafficked her since she was 13.
- He proclaimed states of emergencies in several California counties (including Butte) to help expedite their recovery from recent wildfires.