In a state that has adopted so many laws and practices pertaining to putting an end to gun violence, you’d think that California would lead the country in diminishing gun related deaths.
Yet, that’s just not the case, and what’s adding fuel to the proverbial fire of the gun control debate is that California has been host three mass shootings in a span of just four days.
The recent deadly shootings are reigniting the debate, but statistics show Californians are less likely to be killed by guns than people in most other U.S. states.
But that doesn’t mean California is all good, because while the state as a whole appears to be showing better numbers, three of the state’s cities make the list of the top 25 most dangerous cities in the United States.
Considering there’s a total of over 19,000 cities and towns in the United Sates, that’s not exactly a great claim to fame.
The recent displays of gun violence in Fresno, San Diego, Santa Clarita and Orinda are causing some concern even with the state’s low numbers of gun deaths collectively. The most recent statistics from 2017 showed that California has the sixth-lowest rate of shooting deaths, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
And California’s death rate per 100,000 residents has been falling — from eighth-lowest in 2015 and 16th-lowest in 2005. Yet while the gun death rate per capita is very low, the number of deaths by guns in that very state are actually the second highest in the country.
While the Gifford’s Law Center gun-control advocacy group may give California an “A” for its laws on gun control, it fails to address why so many people still die as a result of gun violence, especially within concentrated areas within the state itself.
After last week’s high school shooting, Democratic Representative Karen Bass from Los Angeles, along with some presidential hopefuls for the Democratic ticket this year, had gathered to discuss the recent shootings.
“It’s important to address gun control on a local and a state basis, but it just really increases the need for us to have uniform gun laws, and have legislation pass on a federal basis,” Bass stated.
However, skeptics on the other side argued that the recent shootings only further cemented the futility of enacting stricter gun laws on a state and even federal level.
In a statement delivered by the Firearms Policy Coalition, it was noted: “With multiple mass shootings in gun-controlled California over the last few days, the truth about the effects of disarmament could not be more clear. Gun control, no matter how small — or sweeping — will always result in more criminality… not less.”
While California can boast about low rates of gun deaths on a per capita basis, that doesn’t mean the country’s most populous state doesn’t have a lot of gun-related fatalities.
There were 3,184 people killed by guns in California in 2017, about 18 times more than the 180 who died from guns in Alaska, which owned the highest gun death rate that year. Those numbers beg the question of whether the problem is gun related solely, or is there is a cultural problem instead.
On Sunday, four people were killed and six more wounded in Fresno when armed assailants sneaked into the backyard of a home and fired into crowd that had come for a football party.
On the day before, five family members were killed and another hospitalized in an apparent murder-suicide shooting in San Diego.
Earlier that week on Thursday, a 16-year-old Saugus High School student in Santa Clarita shot five classmates, killing two of them, before turning the gun on himself.
And just last month, five people were killed and several more injured on Halloween when a house party at a rented mansion in the tony bedroom community of Orinda erupted in gunfire.
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With regard to the latest mass shootings, it can’t be determined if they are linked to gaps in the existing laws which if filled could have prevented them. Furthermore, the Fresno shooters have yet to be identified as well. The man who shot his estranged wife, children and himself in San Diego was the subject of a pending court restraining order.
Authorities aren’t sure how the boy who shot classmates in Santa Clarita got hold of the .45-caliber pistol he used, but both state and federal law prohibit minors from possessing guns which gives credibility to the perspective of not all gun laws work as intended.
Additionally, prosecutors declined to charge five suspects arrested in the Halloween shooting in Orinda, citing only a need for more investigation.
Firearms Policy Coalition President Brandon Combs described like last week’s school shooting as “while tragic, are incredibly rare events,” and that politicians shouldn’t exploit these instances to deprive law-abiding citizens of their right to protect themselves.
Combs further stated, “Attacking human rights like the right to keep and bear arms because of incredibly unlikely circumstances is like banning people from going outside so they don’t get struck by lightning.”
Amanda Wilcox, legislative advocate for the California chapters for the Brady Campaign gun control group also weighed in.
“I do think our gun laws are saving lives,” she said.
She cited how laws pertaining to vehicular regulations and their use over the years decreased vehicular fatalities.
It’s safe to say that this debate is going to be ongoing for some time, as the answers are not clear as to how to better prevent these types of atrocities.
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