RAW: Gov. Newsom Blasts Federal Judge Who Overruled State's Assault Weapon Ban

Gov. Gavin Newsom unleashes harsh criticism of federal judge whose ruling overturned California's long-standing assault weapons ban (6-10-2021)

Video Transcript

GAVIN NEWSOM: --thank the attorney general for his steadfastness, his leadership, his willingness to take this on immediately, not hesitating, not wavering, and moving courageously forward with this appeal. I want to thank the mayor, London Breed, for exceptional leadership going back decades on the issue of gun violence, and gun safety, gun prevention, and criminal justice reform more broadly.

To Mattie, thank you for personalizing not just your own story, but personalizing so many other mothers who've been torn asunder because of crime and violence. And I want to just thank you for always reminding us what's really at stake. It's about human beings. It's about human dignity. It's about who we are as a city, state, nation, and what we project to the rest of the world.

Because let's not forget. This doesn't happen anywhere else in the United-- in the country-- rather, any other country in the world. This is unique to the United States of America. And it doesn't have to be.

In the spirit of Robyn's comments, we're not necessarily just victims of that fate and circumstance. We can shape the future. We have agency. We have the ability to manifest a different outcome. And that's what California's always been about. The modern gun safety movement started here first in a bipartisan way, by the way.

May 2, 1967, there were 30 members of the Black Panthers that stormed the State Capitol. Interestingly, on so many levels, it led a Republican legislator in the assembly to move forward with the state and one of the nation's first gun safety laws signed by then Ronald Reagan. So when all these guys are standing around in places like Texas wrapped in the flag and the spirit and image of Ronald Reagan, they better remember that it was Reagan himself that led this nation, not just the state of California, in advancing gun safety laws.

This has always been a bipartisan issue, protecting your kids, our families, our community. For folks that wax on about public safety, and they sit back passively and say nothing about this outrageous decision, shame on them. What frauds. They are frauds. They're not serious about violence if they're not serious about gun violence.

And if they're not serious about gun violence and they will not evaluate the absurdity of a decision like this, a weapon of war, nothing more than a weapon of war that's been regulated for over 32 years, and sit by passively, not say a damn word, or worse yet applaud this decision, they're not serious about gun violence in this state, in our nation.

And talk about not being serious. Look, I'm a son of a judge. I am very cautious when it comes to attacking judicial decisions. But I sat back and watched decision after decision after decision with Judge Benitez. He's unserious. Judge Benitez-- and, Mattie, you were right-- is a stone cold ideologue. He's a wholly owned subsidiary of the gun lobby and the National Rifle Association.

Read these decisions. Don't just read the headlines of a judge over-- read the decisions for yourself. I know we've got all the headlines, a Swiss Army knife. Read the rest of this decision. It's ripped off the pages-- if they have an editorial page in "Gun & Ammo" magazine, it might as well be Benitez' decisions over and over and over again.

And I hope you caught what Robyn just said. This was done on a day when we're reflecting the lives of thousands of families that were destroyed because of gun violence, and he chooses to put this decision out on that day. That says everything about his character and the consequences of this decision that are not intellectual. It's not politics but are emotional and personal to the family members who lost their damn lives of their loved ones. It's shameful, shameful in every way, shape, or form.

So we'll fight this. We've got the right leadership. It's the right state. No other state in America has been more progressive and aggressive on gun safety than the state of California. And we have results to back it up.

Gun safety saves lives, period, full stop. The data bears that out. California's laws have led the nation. We continue to lead the nation across the spectrum, not just in 1989 after the senseless shooting of five young children that were killed and, as Dr. Campbell said, dozens of others injured. We led the nation.

Then Senator Feinstein took that model from the 1989 assault weapons ban and made it a national model. And you heard Dr. Campbell make the point. You saw gun violence decrease significantly as a consequence of her courageous act and the act of Congress, yes, when we had common sense, not just gun safety laws but common sense legislators in Washington, DC, that did the right thing, had the courage to do the right thing.

I don't know that it takes a lot of courage to try to save people's lives. But in this day and age, it seems like it takes some damn courage. But you don't see that in Washington, DC, today. And so the state has to continue to lead and fight. And we'll fight. We'll continue to lead.

You know, none of this is easy. Days like last week, they're setbacks. But there's opportunity anew, and we'll continue to advance them. I've been proud. In the last couple of years, we've signed dozens of gun safety laws.

Then Assemblymember Bonta leading the charge on a lot of those, ghost guns, and bullet buttons, issues related to some of the challenges we're having as it relates to gun restraining orders and the need to promote those, and work we're doing with gun violence prevention, the 200-plus million in this CalVIP program that can help highlight some of those laws that are on the books that we need to promote. We've got a lot of work to do.

But you need to call folks out, and we need to call this federal judge out. He will continue to do damage. Mark my word. They are judge shopping. This is a serious moment in American history, not just California history.

This is a very focused agenda to work through this judge where the decision's already made before it's even presented, who writes press releases on behalf of the gun lobby and does so knowing that the price that we're paying in the short-term pales in comparison to the prospect of the price we may pay in the long-term if it ends up at the US Supreme Court with this stacked court that went through a vetting process based upon predisposition to know exactly where they're going to land on their, quote unquote, "expansive view" of not only the right to bear arms but a well-regulated militia.

A serious moment, a lot on the line. And I just want to close by thanking those on the front line, like Dr. Campbell, again for his courage every single day to be on the receiving end of this senselessness, but his need and desire to be here publicly to call it out and to describe what this really is.