Firearm-related deaths have decreased in California since the early 1990s, but the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence (LCPGV) and the state’s Department of Justice don’t agree about the reasons why.
The LCPGV is an anti-gun activist group, so as reflexively as a squirrel burying nuts, it claims California’s firearm-related deaths have decreased because of gun control. “The state’s comprehensive and cogent gun laws place California at the forefront of gun violence prevention,” making it a “model” for the nation, the group argues.
California’s gun control laws are hardly “cogent,” but they’re certainly “comprehensive.” From a gun banner’s perspective, they’re also a national “model.” General-purpose semi-automatic rifles are banned, so are ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds, and so are private firearm sales. Firearm purchases are delayed by a 10-day waiting period and registered with the state. Handgun purchases are limited to one per 30-day period and require the purchaser to pass written and hands-on proficiency tests. Carry permits traditionally have been extraordinarily difficult to obtain in many locales (although that is changing in some places, thanks to NRA-backed litigation). New handgun models must have a loaded chamber indicator and “micro-stamp” capability. And that’s just for starters.
Whether they have anything to do with the decrease in violent crime in California is another matter. According to the California Department of Justice, the state’s crime decrease since 1991 is due to 10 factors not related to gun control and to a decrease in illegal handgun use by persons ages 10-24. With respect to the latter factor, after a 300 percent increase in homicides among persons ages 10-17, and a 100 percent increase among persons ages 18-24, mostly involving handguns, such homicides decreased to typical levels. That decrease, we note, coincided with a reduction in the crack cocaine trade. However, since 1968 federal law has prohibited a dealer from transferring a handgun to a person under age 21. Since 1994, federal law has prohibited anyone from transferring a handgun to a person under age 18 (or such a person from possessing one), with limited exceptions. These laws, of course, apply in California, along with the rest of the United States. Thus California’s laws, even those relating to handguns, cannot be credited for much of anything concerning the acquisition of handguns by most people in the 10-24 age group.
Further indicative of LCPGV’s blind faith in gun control laws, the group and the Brady Campaign have jointly put together a state gun control law grade sheet, giving the highest grades to states that have the most severe gun laws, without regard to whether the laws have reduced crime. Further demonstrating that the groups couldn’t care less about whether gun control prevents crime, they give higher grades to states that imposed additional gun control laws in 2013, even though the FBI hasn’t released 2013 crime statistics yet. Thus, there is simply no way to claim that those new laws did anything to reduce crime in those states.
Demonstrating the absurdity of LCPGV’s and Brady’s scoring system, the five states that got the anti-gun groups’ highest grade (A-minus) had significantly higher murder rates in 2012, as compared to states that got a grade of “F”. The groups’ “A-minus” states and their murder rates were Maryland (6.3), California (5.0), New Jersey (4.4), Connecticut (4.1), and New York (3.5), for an average rate of 4.7. Meanwhile, Vermont (1.3), Utah (1.8), Idaho (1.8), Maine (1.9), Wyoming (2.4) and Montana (2.7) each got a “F,” for an average rate of 2.0.
The groups have never given a grade to the District of Columbia, the gun control laws of which historically have been the most severe in the nation, and the murder rate of which was, for many years, the highest of any major U.S. city. If they had given the city a grade, it would have had to have been “A” Double Plus Good, which would only have called attention to the laws’ Orwellian fabric.