…but anti-gun lawyers do!
Earlier this year, the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence tried to make the claim that “gun violence” in California has dropped 56% since 1993. The well funded group of Bay Area lawyers go on to claim that California’s gun control laws deserve the credit. (Shocking, no?) However, reality and their claims are two entirely different things.
California civil right attorney Chuck Michel has dissected the group’s report to find out what the numbers really say. (And by “dissected”, I mean “tossed the report into a woodchipper”.)
Gun deaths have dropped by 31% nationally, while California’s gun death rate dropped by 52%. That’s good news for Californians. But suicides constitute 61% of all those gun deaths. Since 1993 California’s suicide rate has fallen four times faster than the national rate, plummeting by 47%, while the United States suicide average dropped only 11%. No gun control law prevents suicides. Suicidal people typically use their own legally purchased handguns, so California’s “assault weapon” bans, extra capacity magazines bans, background checks, and all the rest had nothing to do with the overall reduction in suicides. The reduction in suicides, not gun control laws, accounts for nearly all of California’s better than national average reduction in overall gun deaths.
These slick, SanFran lawyers have used a trick that the anti-gun lobby has been using for years: Conflate gun suicides with all other gun homicides. They’re hoping that you aren’t paying close attention. Those of you who are paying attention no doubt noticed the way I worded that first sentence. You know that there are three different categories of gun deaths that are included in that phrasing: Suicides, illegal homicides, and legal homicides.
Of those three types of gun related deaths, gun control laws cannot really affect the first type. As Chuck Michel points out, suicides by gun rarely involve the anti-gun lobby’s favorite bugaboos, “assault” weapons or “high capacity” magazines. And as many economists have pointed out, the overall suicide rate isn’t affected by gun laws either. Those intent upon self-destruction will find other means to do so if a gun isn’t available. As for the third type of gun death, while much smaller than the other two, it is one that no one in their right mind (i.e. no one who isn’t an anti-gun extremist) would want to see gun laws affecting. Of course, none of us wants to see situations where the “good guy with a gun” is forced to shoot the “bad guy with a gun”. But what we really don’t want to see is law abiding citizens or the police disarmed so that violent criminals can safely have their way.
So that leaves us with the second category, illegal homicides. Now the proper question to ask becomes: Did California’s gun control laws affect illegal homicides. As Chuck Michel points out, the answer is “no”. So what did?
Criminologists have long noted that most violence occurs at the hands of repeat offenders, and occurs disproportionately among inner city gangs (recently Yale sociologists concluded that 40% of inner city homicides are caused by four percent of the population). In 1994, California passed its first “three strikes” law specifically designed to address repeat violent offenders. The public was fed-up with escalating crime, and 72 percent of California voters responded by enacting Proposition 184. Two years later voters targeted criminals misusing guns with the 10-20-Life law, putting thugs in jail for long stretches, some lasting forever.
By targeting these repeat offenders who use guns to commit rapes, robberies and murders, California effectively reduced the violence on our streets, and saved many lives. These “criminal control” laws are behind California’s successful fight against gun violence. “Gun control” laws had nothing to do with it.
So how can you tell when an anti-gun lawyer is lying? When his lips are moving, there are numbers are coming out.