CEO of California DA Association says more gun laws won't help state

AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli

In a state known for soft-on-crime District Attorneys like George Gascon and Chesa Boudin, a statement like this is downright shocking.

“The issue from a prosecutor’s perspective, setting aside the debate over gun control in general, is the reality that criminals have easy access to guns,” said Greg Totten, CEO of the California District Attorneys Association. “Criminals are going to get guns no matter what.”

“Our focus,” Totten said of prosecutors, “is on the issue of criminals getting guns and the havoc they wreak.”

Adding layers of laws atop an already dense regulatory structure will not, in Totten’s opinion, keep guns from criminals.

Totten is a former Ventura County D.A. who joined the CDAA a couple of years ago, so he’s worked as a frontline prosecutor and isn’t just a talking head. He’s also not calling for the repeal of any current gun laws, but he at least recognizes that adding even more restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms is utterly pointless.. if the goal is to keep guns from criminals, anyway.

Totten’s comments came as part of a story on a new survey from the California Firearm Violence Research Center at UC Davis, the state-funded pro-gun control “research” facility run by longtime anti-gun activist Dr. Garen Wintemute. The survey’s findings are less interesting, at least to me, than the coverage by the Capitol Weekly, which straightforwardly acknowledges gun control’s failures in the state.

In a state with 40 million people and 20 million guns, of course, everyone faces some risk of gun violence.

That’s why California remains at the front of the pack when it comes to gun control. And California does indeed have “the most stringent firearm laws in the country,” according to Veronica Pear, a PhD at the Violence Prevention Research Program.

But those laws don’t necessarily reduce risk, and they appear to have little effect on actual crime. And in at least one instance, the punishment for a felon in possession of a firearm, California actually trails Texas, long viewed as a gun-happy state.

I’ve been wracking my brain trying to think if I’ve ever run across a mainstream media outlet in California that was willing to admit that all of those gun control laws have “little effect on actual crime.” Granted, Capitol Weekly isn’t exactly one of the state’s biggest newspapers, but it is targeted towards California’s political class and those interested in politics. I wonder how many Democratic readers will just dismiss those paragraphs quoted above as NRA propaganda? Probably not as many as will read those lines and think to themselves “So what?”

Gun control really isn’t about crime, even if that’s the context that most Democratic politicians place it. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve heard politicians promise that their state was now safer because of some new gun control law, only to see crime rise in the following months and years. When those crime rates spike, the politicians don’t declare they made a mistake and want to try something different. They just use their failure to demand even more restrictions. Rinse and repeat, and each cycle our right to keep and bear arms is confined to a smaller and smaller sphere.

The arguments from the anti-gun activists were the same when crime was at 50 year lows in 2019 as they were when we saw the biggest one year spike in crime in 2020. While their stated goal may be to improve public safety, the actual crime rate has no impact or bearing on their policy prescriptions. Ultimately, it’s not about imposing “reasonable” or “commonsense gun safety regulations” on American citizens, but making it legally dangerous and socially taboo to exercise our Second Amendment rights, with an ultimate goal of making it impossible to own firearms at all.

Now, I happen to think that gun control activists are losing that battle (and have been for decades, frankly), but that doesn’t mean they’re going to give up anytime soon. They may very well have to come up with a new argument, however, because it seems to me that more and more people are rejecting the idea that we’ll all be safer once the next gun control law takes effect.