California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) called out Sen. John Cornyn on Monday after the Texas Republican shared a headline suggesting California’s strict gun laws don’t work to prevent mass shootings.
“California Has More Than 100 Gun Laws. Why Don’t They Stop More Mass Shootings?” Cornyn tweeted, along with a New York Times article under the same headline, in the wake of three mass shootings in the state that have left at least 19 people dead.
Newsom shared Cornyn’s tweet, noting: “Texas’ gun death rate is 67% higher than California’s.”
That checks out. When it comes to the rate of firearm deaths, California ranks among the nation’s lowest, with 8.5 gun deaths per 100,000 people in 2020, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. Texas, on the other hand, had 14.2 gun deaths per 100,000 population in the same year. That’s higher than the national rate of 13.7 per 100,000.
Regardless, this month’s shootings have drawn renewed attention to California’s gun laws ― the toughest in the nation.
As the Times noted in its article, the state has a patchwork of more than 100 gun laws, including bans on semiautomatic weapons and large-capacity magazines and restrictions against gun ownership for domestic violence offenders and people deemed to be a danger to themselves or others.
It still wasn’t enough to prevent this month’s tragedies. Gun safety advocates are already mobilizing to fill the gaps that allowed them to happen, while gun rights defenders have seized on the shootings as evidence gun laws don’t work. (As the Times also noted, they do: According to the Public Policy Institute of California, Californians are about 25% less likely to die in mass shootings.)
Cornyn, who is among the top recipients in Congress of campaign donations from gun rights lobbyists, was perceived to be adding to that chorus when he shared the article.
Newsom wasn’t alone in pushing back, with commenters pointing out, among other stark statistics, that five of the 10 deadliest shootings in modern U.S. history took place in Texas, which has some of the most lax gun laws in the country.