In the wake of another deadly mass shooting in the United States, California Governor Gavin Newsom took to social media this weekend to call out Republicans who he believes have stood idly by as lives continue be lost at the hands of armed gunmen.
“This is freedom?? To be shot at a mall? Shot at school? Shot at church? Shot at the movies? We have become a nation that is more focused on the right to kill than the right to live,” Gov. Newsom wrote on Twitter.
The comments were made in the hours following a mass shooting at an outlet mall in Allen, Texas, in which a gunman opened fire at shoppers, killing eight and wounding seven more. The gunman, 33-year-old Mauricio Garcia, was killed by an officer who was at the mall on an unrelated call.
Investigators said Garcia used an AR-style rifle in the Dallas suburb shooting and was also believed to have interacted with neo-Nazi and white supremacist posts on social media.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott called the massacre an “unspeakable tragedy,” adding that local officials had the complete support of the state’s law enforcement and investigative resources.
But Abbott’s words drew ire from his political opponents who have argued that he and other Republicans have stood in the way of passing major reforms aimed at curbing gun violence in the nation.
Among those critics is California’s governor.
Speaking on Fox News, Abbott laid most of the blame for gun violence on failure to address mental health needs.
“People want a quick solution,” Abbott said. “The long-term solution here is to address the mental health issue.”
Abbott also said that gun violence was an issue in both Red states and Blue states, claiming that the most victims of gun violence can be found in California.
On Sunday, California’s governor shared the clip of Abbott’s Fox News appearance with his own set of rebuttals.
“[Gov. Abbott] conveniently leaves out the fact that Texas’ gun death rate is 73% higher than CA’s,” Newsom wrote. He also accused Abbott of “accidentally” pointing out a need for federal gun safety laws.
On the topic of mental health, Newsom accused Abbott of cutting more than $200 million worth of mental health funding in the state. The cut in question was necessitated, in part, by Abbott’s ongoing efforts to staff armed soldiers at the Texas-Mexico border.
In April 2022, about a month prior to a shooting in Uvalde, Texas that left 19 children and two educators dead at Robb Elementary School, Texas cut $211 million from the state’s Department of Health and Human Services — the government agency tasked with managing the state’s mental health programs.
Abbott also laid blame for that massacre on poor mental health.
Despite Texas spending more than $3.6 billion on mental health services for adults and children in the last year, Texas is still last among all states and Washington D.C. on per capita mental health spending, according to the Texas Tribune.
Ultimately, Newsom’s target of frustration was congress for a perceived inaction on gun control legislation.
“This is not what the American people want. Do your damn job, Congress,” Newsom wrote.
Newsom has sparred with Abbott in the past over abortion rights and California’s plans to phase out gasoline-powered vehicles. Newsom has also spent money on ads in Red states, including Texas, to directly call out some of the GOP’s most high-profile leaders — a move many political experts have interpreted as Newsom laying the groundwork for an eventual White House bid.