CA Governor on Modern Sporting Rifles: They’re weapons of mass destruction… have no place in our society’

Yes, as one might expect, the Internet is awash with quotes this week from politicians and pundits on the perniciousness of so-called “assault weapons” following an attack Sunday at a food festival in Gilroy, California.

In a press conference Monday, for example, California Gov. Gavin Newsom slammed modern sporting rifles, calling them “weapons of mass destruction” and claiming their “purpose is to exact as much damage on human beings as possible.”

“They have no place in our society, let alone in this country, let alone in this state,” he added.

The Gilroy tragedy which left three dead and more than a dozen injured was perpetrated by a man armed with an “AK-47 type assault rifle,” according to local media.  Investigators said that he purchased the gun in Nevada on July 9th and then transported it across state lines — in violation of California law.  

While it may be tempting for some to point the finger at so-called “assault weapons” one needs to understand that banning them altogether will not stop mass killings nor will it make mass killings less lethal.  

In active shooter events between 2000 to 2015 rifles of any make or model were only used 27 percent of the time, according to the FBI.  Handguns, meanwhile, were used most frequently, in 56 percent of active shooter events. 

(Graph: The Trace)

One might assume that when a perp is armed with a rifle as opposed to a handgun, he is going to kill more people.  But a recent study in The Journal of the American College of Surgeons found the opposite to be true.  Handguns are more lethal than rifles in mass shooting scenarios.  A Dec. 2018 Reuters article reports: 

The research team found that events with a handgun were associated with a higher percentage of people killed, whereas events involving a rifle were associated with more people shot. About 26 percent of those shot with a handgun had more than one fatal wound, versus two percent of people shot with a rifle. Handguns were also more likely to be associated with brain and heart injuries.

“All of us were shocked. We came to the table with our bias that an assault weapon would be worse,”  said Dr. Babak Sarani of the George Washington University Center for Trauma and Critical Care in Washington, D.C., the lead author of the study.  “This should inform the medical community about what to expect at trauma centers and lawmakers about reasonable gun laws.”

The authors postulated on why this was the case and observed that handguns are fired at a closer range and “tend to lead to more gunshot wounds per victim and a higher likelihood of injuries to vital organs.”  

So, in light of these facts, one has to ask what banning modern sporting rifles would actually accomplish?  The answer as it relates to gun-related violence: very little (scholarly studies in the past decade or so also support this conclusion).  The hard truth here is that the only way to completely stop gun violence is to ban and confiscate every firearm.  Every single one! Short of that, banning one class of weapon will only ensure bad guys use another type to carry out their crimes, potentially with a greater lethal effect.  

SEE ALSO: NY Gov. Cuomo Signs Bills to Extend Waits, Ban (Already Banned) Bump Stocks

Of course, no one — at least publicly — is for banning all firearms.  Which means if we’re serious about curbing gun-related violence we need a different approach, one that focuses on stopping the killer as opposed to one that seeks to prohibit only a small percentage of the deadly weapons available on the open market.  Forget even guns for a moment and remember that rental trucks, gasoline, knives can all be harnessed to take innocent lives.  The challenge of stopping mass killers goes way beyond regulating guns!

Given all that, the question remains: what’s the best approach to stopping active shooters?  Answer: armed responders.  Whether they be police officers, student resource officers or concealed carriers. From a CNN report on the Gilroy incident: 

The 19-year-old opened fire at the outdoor festival at around 5:40 p.m. Sunday, according to Gilroy Police Chief Scot Smithee. Three officers shot him within one minute, killing him, the chief said, adding that the scene might have been bloodier if not for the quick response.

“Might have been bloodier.” There’s no doubt about that! Those armed officers saved many lives! Along with honoring the victims and their families, this part of the story is what politicians and pundits ought to be talking about. How good guys with guns took down an active shooter successfully and saved countless lives. The takeaway should be armed resistance, unlike the hundreds of gun laws in California, really works when it comes to stopping a determined killer.

In the coming days, there’re going to be conversations about curbing gun-related violence and stopping mass shooters.  Any “solution” proposed that ignores the importance of armed responders and focuses solely on restricting certain classes of firearms isn’t grounded in reality and, therefore, not worth consideration.

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About the author: S.H. Blannelberry is the News Editor of GunsAmerica.

{ 23 comments… add one }
  • allen February 11, 2020, 12:04 am

    THERE WERE MORE MASS SHOOTINGS IN CALIFORNIA THAN ANY OTHER STATE IN 2019. YET GOVERNOR NEWSOM STILL INSISTS MORE GUN LAWS ARE THE ANSWER AND GUN CONTROL WORKS. THEY(THE DEMOCRATS) PASS A NEW LAW HERE JUST ABOUT EVERY WEEK. CA WILL SOON BE A MILITARY POLICE AND SURVEILLANCE STATE. THE COPS HAVE A RIGHT TO SELF DEFENSE IN PUBLIC EVEN IF THERE IS NO WEAPON. IF THE LEFT WING SOCIALIST GOVERNMENT OF CA IS GOING FORCE US TO BE POTENTIAL VICTIMS EVERYTIME WE STEP OUTSIDE, BY TAKING AWAY OUR RIGHT TO SELF DEFENSE AND NOT ALLOWING OPEN CARRY AND MAKING IT VIRTUALLY IMPOSSIBLE TO CONCEAL CARRY,THEN VICTIMS SHOULD SUE THE CA GOVERNMENT FOR FAILING TO PROTECT THEM. VICTIMS ARE ALREADY SUING GUNMAKERS ELSEWHERE. VICTIMS ARE SUING THE ORGANIZERS OF THE GILROY GARLIC FESTIVAL FOR FAILING TO PROTECT THEM (BC A MURDERER CUT HIS WAY THROUGH A FENCE) LIKELY PUTTING THE FESTIVAL OUT OF BUSINESS. THE TOWN OF GILROY COULD ALSO BE SUED. AIRBNB IS BEING SUED BC OF A MASS SHOOTING IN ONE OF THEIR RENTALS IN THE BAY AREA BC SOMEHOW ITS THERE FAULT A GUEST THREW A PARTY WO CONSENT AND GANG BANGERS SHOT IT UP AS WELL AS THE TOWN OF ORINDA? SO IF WE CALIFORNIANS ARE FORCED TO BE 100% DEPENDENT ON THE STATE GOVERNMENT FOR OUR SAFETY AND SECURITY IN PUBLIC WHY NOT SUE THE CA GOVERMENT? JUST A THOUGHT TO COMBAT ALL THESE RIDICULOUS GUN LAWS HERE IN CA WHICH DO NOTHING TO SAVE LIVES. GUNS SAVE LIVES. GUN CONTROL KILLS INNOCENT PEOPLE BY DENYING ARMED SELF DEFENSE IN PUBLIC AND IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS . THE TEACHERS SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO CARRY FOR THERE OWN PERSONAL PROTECTION UNDER THE SECOND AMENDMENT BC IT IS TAX PAYER FUNDED GOVERNMENT PROPERTY. GOVERNOR NEWSOM SEEMS TO THINK HES ABOVE THE CONSTITUTION BY USING HIS OFFICE AND HIS LYING MOUTH AS WEAPONS OF MASS DECEPTION. ALONG WITH HIS ALLIES, THE CORPORATE ENTERTAINMENT MEDIA…THE BIGGEST LEFT WING PROPAGANDA MACHINE THE WORLD HAS EVER SEEN. ALL LIES AND WEAPONS OF MASS DISTRACTION WHEN IT COMES TO PROMOTING THEIR FASCIST GUN CONTROL AGENDA.

  • Feddy August 5, 2019, 3:48 pm

    Replace “sporting rifles” with “freedom”, and you have yourself the true intentions of a leftist politician!

  • Joe August 4, 2019, 9:23 pm

    I find it disgusting that any human can grin like a braying ass when talking about this tragedy. Most of us are horrified by the act and sympathetic for the suffering of the victims. He is directly responsible for the mess in San Francisco and now the state. He will flap and flail about more gun control whilst doing nothing about the criminals, terrorists, and mentally disturbed that perpetrate these horrendous crimes of random destruction against innocent victims. His answer is to remove one of the sole protections guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States. Some day he and his ilk will most likely have to answer for their crimes against humanity and their enabling of criminals to proliferate through out our society. It is much the pity that there will be more suffering due to his political pandering and lack of effect action. People should keep in mind that most politicians have never accomplished any thing in their lives other than being good at selling pie in the sky and giving away other peoples money. You might think about that when next you vote.

  • Ex August 4, 2019, 11:54 am

    Why don’t we just pass a law that makes it illegal to possess, own or use ANYTHING without federal, state and local government approval?

  • Chad August 3, 2019, 10:04 pm

    You can shit on the sidewalk while smoking a joint at the same time have a needle stuck in the arm and get a bj from your boyfriend but you can’t own a firearm of your choosing; fuuuccck California!!!!!!!

    • ExGob August 23, 2019, 9:45 pm

      I guess it just goes to show what’s important to that political crowd. They’d rather try to screw the working people than disturb the unproductive.

  • Jay August 3, 2019, 5:21 pm

    Typical, California law enforcement failed to enforce California law so, lets blame the gun. When are these people going to learn that violence, including mass violence, did not begin with the entrance of gun powder into Europe?!
    Weapons of mass destruction? Ever hear of the longbow? The French at Crécy & Agincourt would call it so.

    Anyway, what it all boils down to is the libs gleefully climbing over the backs of the slain in their bid to turn democracy into dictatorship by blaming guns instead of looking to the root of the problem. Though there are many factors I would say (you make your own call) that foremost among them is the drugging of school children (mostly boys) with psych drugs that subdue inhibitions against, among other things, suicide and homicide, then there’s those horrible video games where the object is to shoot, kill, as many targets as fast as one can in the least amount of time and points are counted as lives taken? How can people be expected to respect the sanctity of life when they are taught that ‘life’ is just another point in a game? Note that the majority of mass shootings are committed by young men mimicking video games? But we are repeatedly told there is no connection.
    Frankly, I think liberal leaders are HAPPY this is going on and that is supported by the fact that they are doing nothing about it! For the record, “gun control” has nothing to do with crime control unless you count making it easier for criminals to pursue their vocation.

  • catawampus August 3, 2019, 11:32 am

    Billions spent on failed high speed rail, billions spent on illegal alien welfare, healthcare, issue after failed issue and still the focus and solutions are taking 2 A rights and more regulation targeting American citizens. Dems in Calif. need to divert attention away from their uncountable failures and by the way where did all the money go? Things will no doubt be better once all citizens of other countries can vote in U.S. elections, right?

  • mlhtd51 August 2, 2019, 10:07 pm

    Another “GUN FREE ZONE” where were these Cops when this shooter was Cutting his way thru the Fence?
    I don’t go where I can’t Carry

  • John August 2, 2019, 7:05 pm

    Newsome said the garlic festival shooting was because the White House is undoing what he is try to do, instead of admitting the gun laws don’t work and the problem is the society they have created.

  • Kurt Heinlein August 2, 2019, 5:35 pm

    More mass murders are caused by Politicians than any lone shooter, don’t believe me, go see the 58,000 names on the Viet Nam wall in Washington DC

  • Frank Staples August 2, 2019, 3:53 pm

    I hate to say it but at my old age I can see a parting of the ways approaching…maybe it’s getting to be time to lock and load! The democraps obviously know nothing about firearms and are totally willing to piss off one third of all Americans!

  • JR Cowboy August 2, 2019, 3:09 pm

    Anyone with even a little understanding of different rifle platforms and ammunition options knows that the AR-15 chambered in its most popular .223 variant packs a pretty mild recoil compared to similarly-powerful long guns. It is not a machine gun as you need to pull the trigger for each shot just like most semi automatic rifles. It is not an assault rifle! It was first made by Armalite Rifle which is where the AR abbreviation came from…
    That’s precisely why it is so popular among shooters using the rifle for everything from law enforcement to home defense to sport— it’s not particularly loud, scary or difficult to shoot.
    We don’t need a new gun ban. We need a ban on the political correctness dulling our collective ability to better recognize the people not worthy of society’s trust. And we need to do away with gun free zones. Any chance at all that a concealed carrier may have the opportunity to dispatch one of these bastards to hell before he racks up a high innocent body count sounds more sensible to me than does thinking that murderers obey gun laws.
    It’s liberal ignorance and stupidity that’s bringing on all this bloodshed, not AR-15s.

  • Victor Gore Chamoun August 2, 2019, 10:44 am

    This narcissistic prick is only try to get more people killed in Commiefornia. He doesn’t give a rat’s ass about
    the people of that state. When are YOU people going to get tired if the dictatorship that you continue to bow down to these that only care about doing the will of the elitists out there.

    • B August 2, 2019, 12:30 pm

      Unfortunately those of us who believe in the Second Amendment are vastly outnumbered by the liberals living in Democratically run cities on the coast and our votes and the votes of our few representatives mean absolutely nothing. And we get absolutely no help from the Federal government to uphold our Constitutional rights in this “state” where politicians “Don’t pay much attention to the Constitution.” Those of us who are unable financially or for other reasons to escape this liberal state resist as best we can with help from no one. So until you volunteer to come help us change this tyrannical government, shut your pie-hole and quit blaming us for not voting or otherwise removing these scumbag politicians who continuously violate and trample our rights from office!

      • Shan August 2, 2019, 2:43 pm

        You said it. We get zero help from Fedral Gov or Supreme Court. I live in Northern part of State where freedom and freedom loving people still exist. NEVER EVER bow down to these tyrants. I love my home and my country but damn shame what these people are doing to our beautiful state.

      • Maha August 2, 2019, 6:28 pm

        B, you are outnumbered by lunatics, and are effectively shut out of the democratic process of representation. Vic up there may not know the situation on the ground in California, but one look at the 2018 offerings on the ballot shows there is no conservative or Constitutional–read 2nd Amendment–rights left in California.

  • Griffendad August 2, 2019, 9:30 am

    How many people die on the street in one day in San Francisco from homelessness or drugs. Let’s hear that number from this fool.

  • John August 2, 2019, 8:23 am

    He has shown from his first days in office he is nothing but a vote seeker using our money to do it. He wants all those illegal aliens votes and wants to import more so he can have voters who get free everything while others pay for it. Then he says we need to cut down on electricity use and oil use but wants to import people. What a contradiction.
    He wrote the ammo restrictions yet we just had a shooting, all the laws did not work! How about fixing the society they have created. If people were busy working they wouldn’t have time to think about these things or time to do them. But they don’t have to work because he gives them free health care and food.

  • Gus August 2, 2019, 4:41 am

    Welcome to the new world where your rights are over ridden by popular opinions and poll numbers. The people making the laws pay more attention to them than they do the rights of EVERYONE. Laws are no longer made, enacted, supported or enforced by constituency but by social media, fake news and “experts” who crunch the numbers to keep those “elected” representatives in power.

  • Troy July 31, 2019, 11:58 am

    People like can gov has no place in society. That’s just plan assenin. Lets just let the bad people have guns let’s see what happens.

  • SuperG July 31, 2019, 10:14 am

    And in an even more awesome display of stupidity, he just signed a law that says for Trump to be on the California ballot, he has to release his tax returns. Be warned people, the Democrats are trying to stack the deck and start a civil war!

  • Tim July 30, 2019, 6:19 pm

    People like this have no place in our society.

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