When it comes to gun control, I don’t expect any state official from California to do anything but sing its praises.
After all, it’s popular there–at least, it’s popular in the large cities that dominate the state–and not defending it is likely a good way to lose re-election.
But when the attorney general there decides to sing those praises with where the state ranks in various things, it’s important to provide a bit of context.
Last September, Attorney General Rob Bonta established the “Office of Gun Violence Prevention” to support California’s effort to reduce gun violence statewide and provide tools and resources for individuals in need of help.
According to the Office of Gun Violence Prevention’s website, California gun safety laws do work, ranking the state 44th out of 50 for lowest firearm mortality in the country. The only states below California’s firearm mortality rate are Hawaii, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, new York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.
The Firearms Policy Coalition views this issue differently. FPC’s Vice President Richar Thomson shared his comments in a recent press release regarding the numerous bills aimed towards 2nd amendment rights.
“This anti-rights package shows the legislature’s naked contempt for peaceable People, and their willingness to use state violence and send armed agents of the state to take people’s property and throw them in government cages merely for the free exercise of a fundamental right.”
But does Bonta have a point?
Not really. You see, he’s cherry-picked his category–firearm morbidity. He did that so it will include as many suicides as possible, which is meant to skew the total numbers in a particular direction.
There are a lot of factors that go into suicides, but California has a pretty high median household income and plenty of sunshine, thus negating two of the more common reasons people take their own lives.
In fact, most people see suicide as a mental health issue, not a firearm issue. After all, people can kill themselves in all kinds of ways.
But violent crime is a different matter.
For example, while California may rank 44th in “firearm morbidity,” it ranks 29th in its homicide rate. It’s 17th in violent crime. It’s 19th in overall crime (excluding the District of Columbia from the listings as it’s not a state).
In other words, Bonta used the one statistic that makes California look just as safe as they come when it’s no such thing.
This is, of course, by design.
See, gun control does keep guns out of a lot of people’s hands. That means people who want to take their own life will seek other means in California, which drives down the overall firearm mortality rate.
But it doesn’t actually do all that much to reduce violent crime. California is still up there in the violent crime rate in part because the state essentially discourages self-defense.
So while Bonta’s comments about the state’s ranking aren’t inaccurate, by other metrics, it’s questionable at best to claim the state’s gun control actually works.