Violent crime up, arrest rates down in anti-gun California

AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File

If gun control really worked to reduce violent crime, then why did California have the highest number of homicides in more than a decade last year? According to the latest crime statistics released by California Attorney General Rob Bonta, violent crime increased from 437 incidents per 100,000 people in 2020 to 466.2 per 100,000 residents in 2021, but rather than acknowledge the reality that the state’s gun laws aren’t preventing criminal acts of violence, activists in the state are sticking to their script and pinning the rise in crime on the availability of firearms.

There were 2,361 homicides in the California last year, surpassing 2020′s figure by more than 150 deaths, according to the reports. While the number remains far below the historic high — 4,095 homicides in 1993 — last year was the deadliest year since 2007.

Three-quarters of 2021′s homicides involved a firearm, and more than eight in 10 of the victims were male. Nearly half of the people killed last year were Hispanic and nearly 30% were Black. By contrast, about 5% of the state’s population is Black and about 39% Latino, according to the 2020 census.

About 40% were killed by strangers, 40% by friends or acquaintances and the remainder by a relative — a spouse, parent or child, the reports state. More than half of women were killed in a residence, while more than 40% of male victims died on the street.

“Today’s report further solidifies what decades of research have shown: More guns on our streets leads to more gun violence; and community safety is inextricably tied to economic, racial, and social equity,” said Anne Irwin, founder and executive director of Smart Justice California, in a statement.

If more guns inevitably leads to more crime, then we would expect that crime rates would increase year after year given that the number of guns in private hands keeps going up. Instead, for several decades between the early 1990s and 2020 violent crime rates dropped by about 50% across the United States, even as Americans purchased tens of millions of firearms for self-defense, hunting, or recreation. It wasn’t until 2020 that the nearly 30-year-long trend abruptly reversed, with anti-gun activists quick to point the finger at the record-high number of gun sales recorded that year. In doing so, however, they ignored the closure of courts and the emptying of jails around the country in response to the COVID pandemic, as well as the riots, unrest, and declining arrest rates in the wake of George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police officers in May of that year.

The drop in arrests is particularly evident in the statistics released by Bonta’s office on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the total arrest rate decreased — from 2,812.3 per 100,000 people in 2020 to 2,606.3 per 100,000 in 2021 — as part of a downward trend since 2004.

Bonta’s office also released a report showing a continued drop in arrests of juveniles, which have plummeted in recent years — from nearly 63,000 in 2016 to fewer than 20,000 last year.

There was a decline in juvenile arrests of almost 25% between 2020 and 2021, but that doesn’t mean that there were actually fewer juveniles committing crimes. In fact, with violent crime up and overall arrests down, it’s pretty evident that what’s really happening in California is that more criminals of all ages are getting away with murder… as well as carjackings, home invasions, aggravated assaults, and armed robberies. And with California lawmakers intent on trying to ban their way to safety through new restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms instead of cracking down on repeat, violent offenders, this trend is likely to continue; especially in the counties and cities where anti-gun Democrats have a lock on power.