Does CA's Latest Mass Murder Show
Strict Gun Laws Aren't Strict Enough?
Maybe it shows that existing restrictions aren't working as advertised

(Hector Amezcua/Zuma Press/Newscom)

By Jacob Sullum. April 8, 2022

A mass shooting that killed six people and injured 12 in Sacramento last weekend predictably provoked immediate agitation for stricter gun control, including policies that seem utterly irrelevant to the facts of the case. That's a familiar pattern in the gun policy debate, which consists largely of reiterating previous proposals in response to mass shootings, regardless of whether those ideas have anything to do with the most recent example.

The Sacramento Bee described the weekend's apparently gang-related violence, which began around 2 a.m. Sunday in a downtown area where nightclubs had just closed, as "the worst mass shooting in city history." The Los Angeles Times says "the shooting was California's single deadliest in 2022," although "there have been worse in the last year." While these incidents supposedly underline the need for gun control, they simultaneously cast doubt on that argument, since California already has the strictest gun laws in the country.

Everytown for Gun Safety implicitly acknowledges that inconvenient fact in its press release about the Sacramento shoot-out. "Gun sense champions in California have continually responded to gun violence tragedies by taking action on life saving gun safety policies," it says. "Strong gun laws save lives—and California is a clear example of that. The state continues to have one of the lowest rates of gun violence in the country while their lawmakers are leading the gun violence prevention movement."

California does have a relatively low rate of gun-related deaths: the seventh-lowest in the country, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Its ranking is less impressive, however, when you focus on firearm homicides, which is what Everytown for Gun Safety ostensibly is talking about in this context. .....

"The converted handgun that police recovered after the shooting was stolen, which is not the sort of transfer that would be affected even by perfect compliance with a law requiring "background checks on all gun sales." Nine out of 10 were obtained from informal sources, including friends or relatives, the "underground market," and theft". [...]


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