‘Great Debate’ Reveals California Gov. Newsom’s Cynicism, Dishonesty on Crime and Guns

by Tommy Grant

The Great Red State vs. Blue State debate between California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom and Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis included a short back-and-forth on rising criminal violence. That, of course, gave the California gun control chief cheerleader the opening he needed to make cheap political attacks and continue to push for more restrictive firearm laws even though his state already has nearly every gun control law on the books.

It was a glaring, but unsurprising, reminder that Gov. Newsom isn’t interested in reducing criminal gun misuse or crimes. He’s all about appeasing gun control activists and the donor class that will help propel him to a presidential run of his own someday, and maybe as soon as next year.

Crime-Driven Exodus

The launching point for Gov. Newsom’s tirade on gun control was his attempts at attacking Gov. DeSantis over rising crime – unironically the main driver for why more law-abiding Californians have been purchasing firearms over the past few years.

Showing a graphic containing FBI data on violent crime rates in California, Florida and the national average, debate moderator Sean Hannity pressed Gov. Newsom about his state’s high numbers.

“Governor Newsom, your numbers are way higher than the national average. How do you explain that when safety and security, I would argue, is a prerequisite for the pursuit of happiness?” asked Hannity.

The governor tried to mark “progress” by bringing up the 1990s. “We’re near 50-year lows, down 55 percent violent crimes in the state of California from the 1990s,” Gov. Newsom responded. “And I want to compare and contrast that with the issue in Florida that you didn’t mention, and that’s the murder rate. Let’s broaden that more broadly —”

Hannity interjected to remind everyone the FBI data included the murder rates. Gov. DeSantis jumped in with his own response.

“So this is the slick politician — you put up the rates. He has 500 per 100,000. Florida is 250. So that’s almost twice as much, and he’s trying to spin that to say California’s doing good? People are leaving California in droves, largely because public safety has collapsed,” said Gov. DeSantis.

Gov. Newsom could not offer any good reason why 750,000 people have left his state in the past two years, while over the same stretch, more than 454,000 people have moved into Florida.

More Gun Control

Always ready to chest-thump over his state’s extreme gun control laws as a national framework for success, Gov. Newsom attacked Gov. DeSantis for not enacting unconstitutional gun control measures and was sloppy with the facts in doing so.

“You had one of the worst mass shootings in American history, Parkland… You had a young girl, Jaime Guttenberg, whose father pleaded with you to do something… You know what you did, you did the opposite – you made it easier for felons to get guns,” Gov. Newsom proclaimed.

The Parkland murders were in fact committed by a deranged criminal in 2017. The governor was at that time a Member of Congress, years before he was elected governor. The Constitutional Carry bill he did sign into law earlier this year did not make it “easier for felons to get guns,” as the California governor falsely asserted. As Gov. DeSantis pointed out, it is illegal for anyone convicted of a felony to purchase or possess a firearm and that remains so in Florida today.

Instead of passing even more gun control laws that criminals will continue ignoring and that only penalize law-abiding citizens, Gov. Newsom should spend more time and effort getting tough on the criminals that do break the law. As he has failed to take any meaningful action to ensure his cities are safer, voters have been left to take action into their own hands. They did so in San Francisco after giving Geroge Soros-funded District Attorney Chesa Boudin the boot.

In contrast, Gov. DeSantis has a record of taking action against such soft-on-crime prosecutors that leave communities in danger. During the first Republican primary presidential debate this year, he reminded voters of his actions.

“These hollowed-out cities, this is a symptom of America’s decline. And one of the biggest reasons is because you have George Soros funding these radical Left-wing district attorneys that get into office and they say they’re not going to prosecute crimes they disagree with,” he said. “When we had two of these district attorneys in Florida, elected with Soros funding who said they wouldn’t do their job, I removed them from their post. They are gone.”

Support From Florida

When the California governor brought up Fred Guttenberg for his gun control advocacy, it was a political decision by Gov. Newsom to ignore any other relevant voices from that tragedy. That didn’t stop Ryan Petty and Andrew Pollack from giving the governor a piece of their mind.

Ryan Petty’s daughter Alaina was also murdered in the Parkland tragedy. As was Andrew Pollack’s daughter, Meadow.

In response to the false accusations Gov. Newsom lobbed at Gov. DeSantis, Petty posted on social media in real-time. “This is a lie.  Gavin knew it was a lie when he said it @RonDeSantis had worked closely with Parkland families to make Florida schools safer,” Petty posted. “How dare you use the Parkland tragedy to further your political agenda. You are a political pariah. The shame is yours @GavinNewsom.”

Pollack did not hold back, either. “My daughter died in the Parkland mass shooting. Ron DeSantis was not even Governor when it happened, but I’m sure as hell glad he became Governor shortly after,” he said. “Governor DeSantis fired the incompetent people responsible, he didn’t demonize lawful gun owners. Newsom is trash!”

Gov. DeSantis won reelection in 2022 in a landslide, five years after the Parkland tragedy and proclaiming that passing Constitutional Carry was a priority for his second term. Florida voters overwhelmingly made their preferred choice.

 

Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.



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