California Gov. Gavin Newsom made an impassioned plea for national action on gun control after a shooter killed nine people in a San Jose light rail yard this week—the deadliest mass shooting in the state this year.
The Democrat, who leads a state with some of the strictest gun laws in the country, was exasperated when speaking with reporters after the shooting at the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority facility. Newsom called on public officials to move beyond platitudes and take responsibility for the epidemic of gun violence in the nation.
“What the hell’s going on in the United States?” Newsom said. “What the hell’s wrong with us? And when are we going to come to grips with this? When are we going to put down our arms, literally and figuratively?”
This was the latest in a string of mass shootings this year, which have prompted gun safety advocates and some lawmakers nationwide to renew calls to further restrict gun ownership. Mass shootings are on the rise across the country from last year, as states begin easing pandemic restrictions and more people return to public life. But many Republican lawmakers argue restrictions are not the answer and are pushing laws that would ease gun permit and age requirements in the name of self-defense.
There is a “sameness and a numbness” to these mass shootings, Newsom said.
“We should all be angry at how commonplace gun violence has become in this country,” said Robyn Thomas, executive director of the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, which advocates for gun control, in a statement. “This is an urgent crisis that requires immediate action.”
A month after a shooter killed 10 people at a Boulder, Colorado, grocery store in March, Democratic Gov. Jared Polis signed into law a measure that requires gun owners to safely store their weapons, especially away from minors. Oregon lawmakers are debating a similar measure.
States are still debating gun measures in the waning weeks of legislative sessions. Measures are also advancing in some states that would strengthen laws related to gun ownership for convicted domestic abusers and red flag laws related to court orders that seize firearms from people who may be a harm to themselves (or others).
At the same time, Republican-held states are actively loosening restrictions. In Kansas, Republican lawmakers overrode Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s veto of a measure that lowers the age a resident can carry a concealed gun to 18. Louisiana and Texas lawmakers are advancing bills that would ease restrictions on carrying weapons without a permit.
Bills that would allow guns on school property are also advancing in Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas.
The San Jose shooting comes two years after a gunman killed three people and injured 17 more at the Gilroy Garlic Festival, also in Santa Clara County. The motive of this week’s shooter is still unclear, but authorities know he was an employee at the rail yard. The shooter took his own life.