State Watch

These three Democrat-led states are pushing ahead on gun control

Democratic Govs. Gavin Newsom (Calif.), Kathy Hochul (N.Y) and Phil Murphy (N.J.). AP photos/Eric Risberg-Mary Altaffer-Wayne Parry

Three Democratic-led states — California, New York and New Jersey — have pressed forward with gun reform legislation in the wake of the deadly shooting in Uvalde, Texas that left 19 children and two adults dead. 

The state action comes as Democrats in Congress eye votes on measures including a federal red-flag law and expanded background checks, however doubts remain over possible Republican cooperation.

In California, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D)  announced on Wednesday, just one day after the Texas shooting, that the state would “expedite commonsense gun safety laws that will protect people from gun violence.”

Newsom committed to signing a package of bills, including restrictions on the sale of firearms to minors and so-called ghost guns, or unlicensed kits to build untraceable firearms.

The package of bills would also create “private right of action to limit spread of illegal assault weapons and ghost guns” in addition to enabling gun violence victims and governments to sue manufacturers and sellers of firearms.

“While the U.S. Senate stands idly by and activist federal judges strike down commonsense gun laws across our nation, California will act with the urgency this crisis demands,” Newsom said in a statement.  

California also recently had its own deadly shooting, when a man allegedly killed one and injured several others at a southern California church. 

Meanwhile, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) has pressed for state legislators to raise the minimum age to purchase an AR-15-style rifle to 21, from the current limit of 18. 

“I don’t want 18-year-olds to have guns,” Hochul said at a meeting of the Interstate Task Force on Illegal Guns, which includes law enforcement representatives from nine states.

“I want to work with the legislature to do something that is far more common sense than we have right now. At minimum, the AR-15s, but I’m going to take a look at everything,” she added.

The move comes less than two weeks after a mass shooting in Buffalo, N.Y. that left 10 people dead at a grocery store. 

In New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy (D) has pressed for similar changes in his state.

In remarks on Wednesday, Murphy urged action on gun reform in the state, including on a package he proposed.

“I introduced the comprehensive Gun Safety 3.0 package over a year ago and this moment demands that the Legislature finally take action,” he said, adding that the “proposed laws are hardly revolutionary.” 

“They would mandate safe storage of guns. They would ensure that those seeking to buy a gun are actually trained in the safe handling of that gun,“ Murphy said. “They would give police tools to better track the paths of firearms used to commit crimes. They would prohibit the sale of weapons that can bring down helicopters.”

The package of reform policies would also raise the minimum age to purchase long guns to 21, ban .50 caliber firearms and close the loophole for importing out-of-state firearms, the governor’s office said.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) has tried to turn the focus to mental health in the fallout from the Uvalde shooting, with his Democratic opponent in upcoming elections, Beto O’Rourke, confronting him at a press conference on Wednesday.

“You are doing nothing,” O’Rourke said, feet away from Abbott. “You said this was not predictable, this was totally predictable, and you choose not to do anything.”

California, New Jersey and New York all rank in the top eight U.S. states for their gun law strength compared against their gun violence rates, according to research from Everytown for Gun Safety

Tags California Gavin Newsom gun violence Kathy Hochul New Jersey New York Phil Murphy
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