No, California's failed laws shouldn't be replicated

AP Photo/Lisa Marie Pane

The state of California has the strictest gun control laws in the nation. They regulate guns to the point that many law-abiding Americans just shrug and think, “Why bother?”

Of course, that’s kind of the point.

Proponents of such laws tend to claim that they’re beneficial, that they somehow are essential if we want to stop violence. I’m talking about people like this writer:

Yes, there have been several examples of completely unprovoked mass gun violence in California. But no, it’s not nearly on the same scale as in the rest of America.

Yet, there is some commonality: Most mass crimes committed with firearms in this state over the last several years were perpetrated by shooters aged 21 and under. Just like recent massacres in Texas, Illinois, Buffalo, N.Y., and many other places.

But gun mortality rates in California are far lower than in other states, especially the big ones we are most often and most appropriately compared with.

In 2020, researchers say, this state’s rate of firearm deaths was one of the lowest in America, at 8.5 per 100,000 residents. That compared with 13.7 per 100,000 nationally and in Florida and 14.2 per 100,000 in Texas, where Republican Gov. Greg Abbott prompted state legislators last year to make open and closed (hidden) carry pretty much a universal right. All this came before the U.S. Supreme Court this summer made open and closed carry essentially a nationwide right for adults.

Except the author is cherry-picking his data.

First, the focus on firearm deaths is nothing but cherry-picking. After all, guns aren’t the only way a bad person can kill another. Even if you remove gun homicides from the equation, we already know that the national murder rate would still be high compared to other developed nations throughout the world, so focusing exclusively on firearm deaths means ignoring other types of murder.

That is, by definition, cherry-picking.

Further, look at the states of comparison. People like to focus on states like Florida and Texas, but remember that homicide rates are determined on a per capita basis. There’s no reason to look at those two states except because they happen to have convenient homicide rates.

Again, that’s cherry-picking.

Now, understand that California does have a fairly low homicide rate, all things considered. However, fairly pro-gun states like Utah, Idaho, Iowa, Wyoming, North Dakota, Maine, and New Hampshire all have a lower all-cause homicide rate than California.

Additionally, the anti-gun state of Illinois has a homicide rate well above that of California, something else that failed to make it into the equation.

The author is trying to make the case that California’s gun control laws should be replicated throughout the nation, but I note that he fails to note that the Sacramento shooting involved a gangbanger with a fully-automatic handgun–something banned in all states, including California–while trying to pretend gun laws actually work.

See, by cherry-picking information, he tries to make the case, but the truth of the matter is that violent crime is so much more complicated than “guns bad.” A number of pro-gun states are safer than California, which suggests that it’s not the guns that represent an issue. There’s something else at play.

Unfortunately, we don’t get to have that discussion because people like the author are too focused on violating our right to keep and bear arms. They’re so focused on that we’re forced to defend our constitutionally protected right rather than sitting down and looking at just why some people become violent in the first place.

California’s gun laws don’t make the state safer and they won’t make other places safer. No amount of cherry-picked data will change that fact.

Aug 18, 2022 5:30 PM ET