Sacramento made national headlines on April 3, after eighteen people were shot with six killed around 2:00 AM at a popular downtown district known for its nightlife. Police are investigating security video showing a fight breaking out on a crowded street in front of a nightclub before multiple shooters began firing into the crowd. The Sacramento Bee reports that one stolen handgun was found at the scene but no suspects have been identified. As noted by Katy Grimes of the California Globe both Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg and California Governor Gavin Newsom blamed the shootings on the guns rather than the criminals who fired them. “Rising gun violence is the scourge of our city, state and nation,” tweeted the Mayor. “Sadly, we once again mourn the lives lost and for those injured in yet another horrendous act of gun violence,” said Newsom. I am guessing that when suspects are arrested, we will learn that it is the criminal justice reform policies that Steinberg and Newsom supported that allowed the shooters to stay on the streets and gun down the victims last weekend.
Steinberg, as the President pro tempore of the California Senate, shepherded then-Governor Jerry Brown’s “Public Safety Realignment” bill (AB109) through the state Senate in 2011. The bill, which passed on a party-line vote with no legislative hearings, reduced the state prison population by 30,000 criminals within three years and prohibited prison sentences for virtually all property and most drug crimes. With Steinberg’s help, criminals convicted of stealing cars, burglarizing businesses, dealing drugs and even stealing or smuggling guns can only be sentenced to overcrowded county jails and are often released after serving a fraction of their terms. Violent street gangs have flourished under this law. In 2014, Senator Steinberg was an active supporter of California Proposition 47, the so-called “Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act,” which turned property crimes worth less than $950, such as bad checks, forgery, fraud, grand theft, receiving stolen property and shoplifting; and drug possession into misdemeanors. A gang member arrested for stealing a $750 Smith & Wesson 357 magnum (a powerful handgun), gets the equivalent of a traffic ticket under this law. The same is true for criminals engaged in the now routine “smash and grab” burglaries occurring daily in stores across the state. Both laws have made it much more difficult for police to take guns and the criminals who use them off the streets. In 2020, Mayor Steinberg actively supported Proposition 25, a ballot measure to abolish cash bail in California, in spite of scores of news stories about criminals released without bail during the pandemic who committed multiple crimes, including murders, after release.
Blaming guns for murders rather than the criminals doing the shooting is the default liberal response to horrific crimes like the Sacramento murders. There will be no meaningful response to the crime and violence in today’s America so long as lying hypocrites like Governor Newsom and Mayor Steinberg are in power.