California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Ron DeSantis, Florida governor and presidential candidate, have been engaged in an adversarial back-and-forth for quite some time now. Most recently, Newsom took to Twitter to blame DeSantis for a Memorial Day shooting in Hollywood, Florida. Newsom’s message reiterated that he is ill-informed about gun laws — and that he cares little about truth. (READ MORE: For Progressives, There Are No Good Guys With Guns)
After an argument in Hollywood on Memorial Day resulted in a shooting that left nine people injured, Newsom tweeted:
DeSantis signed a permit-less carry bill in April that removes requirements for:
Until our leaders have the courage to stop bowing down to the NRA and enact common sense gun safety this kind of senseless violence will continue. https://t.co/iX6ryxsPwv
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) May 30, 2023
Unsurprisingly, in his tweet Newsom failed to meet the basic tenets of good faith discourse. For starters, Florida’s new permitless carry law does not go into effect until July 1, so it could not have had anything to do with the Memorial Day shooting. Newsom is almost certainly aware of this inconvenient fact, but he chooses to simply disregard it, lest he let the truth get in the way of his narrative.
Additionally, his point about background checks is deceptive. Florida’s new law does not turn the state into a background-check-free zone, as permitless carry laws do not affect the rules that regulate the purchase of a gun. Instead, they merely eliminate the extra — and costly — steps often required to lawfully carry a legally owned handgun in public. Federal background checks are and will continue to be required when purchasing a firearm from a federally licensed firearm dealer in Florida.
Newsom’s Obsession With Florida
This is not the first time Newsom has spread misinformation about Florida’s permitless carry law. After the bill had passed the Florida legislature, Newsom cried foul, claiming that Florida Republicans were knowingly harming Floridians by backing looser gun restrictions.
“Knowing what you’re doing is going to harm people and put their lives at risk and still doing it — that says everything about the character, not just this elected official, and those that are complicit in the legislature here, but of our nation that we allow this,” Newsom said.
Once DeSantis had signed the bill into law, Newsom further proclaimed that it showed Republicans “don’t care about our kids.”
Newsom’s rhetorical theatrics and his supposed certainty that permitless carry leads to greater harm grossly misstate the reality of permitless carry laws. The RAND Corporation, a non-partisan research institute, conducted a review of existing studies and found no conclusive evidence that permitless carry laws increase homicides. (RELATED: Gun Ownership Is Not the Cause of America’s Violence Problem)
And, after all, individuals with bad intentions do not care about a permit requirement to carry a firearm. Any criminal who possesses a firearm and wishes to carry out a crime with that firearm will do so whether or not the law states that they need a permit to carry it.
Furthermore, it is easy to understand why permitless carry laws could increase the safety of citizens. If law-abiding citizens are readily able to carry concealed handguns, they are better able to defend themselves and others in the event of, for example, an active shooter.
Newsom’s constant, emotional, and dramatic attacks on Florida’s permitless carry law expose his lack of knowledge on the effects of such laws and further illustrate his basic disregard for the truth in public discourse.
Benjamin Ayanian is a graduate of the University of Minnesota, where he studied philosophy, business law, and political science. He has also been published in the Star Tribune and the Wall Street Journal. Follow him on Twitter @BenjaminAyanian.