How Can This Happen in California?

“Three men were shot dead and another man and woman were injured in two shootings across Oakland in a 17-hour span,” mercurynews.com reports. “Just as Oakland police officers began gaining control of a large group of rogue Oscar Grant III supporters Friday night, there was an unrelated shooting in East Oakland, police said. A 45-year-old man was killed and another man and a woman wounded in the Sobrante Park area of East Oakland.” How could this happen in California, the home of restrictive gun control? Well, how could it not?

Gun control advocates read this story and say “See? We need even MORE draconian gun laws!” Pro-gun people read this story and say “I better get some more training!”

Both individuals suffer from what the French (and Wikipedia) call an idée fixe: “a preoccupation of mind held so firmly as to resist any attempt to modify it, a fixation.” In other words, it’s an idea that’s so firmly fixed in a person’s mind that nothing—common sense, logic, scientific evidence or anecdote—will dislodge it.

For example, if you believe in your heart or hearts that gun control can reduce gun crime, there’s no convincing you. Alternatively, if you believe that all gun control is a form of unconstitutional gun grabbing, then you will be insensible to any other view. I make these observations because this tale of crime and punishment in Oakland reminds me how fed up I am with California. And Massachusetts.

These two states boast some of America’s least common sensical gun control laws. MA and CA buyers cannot purchase weapons that can hold more than 10 rounds, so that bad guys are forced to reload (I guess). Both states have a list of approved firearms that exclude weapons allowed by federal law and neighboring states. Both states require guns to be stored so that they can’t be used quickly for self-defense. The Golden State statute reads as follows:

To prevent unnecessary injury or death caused by improper storage of firearms in the home where children (under age 18) are likely to be present, and to help prevent the possibility of criminal prosecution, all firearms should be unloaded, locked with a trigger locking device that renders the firearm inoperable, and stored in a locked container.

If you’re looking for a template for “common sense” (a.k.a. unconstitutional) gun control, California and Massachusetts are it.

Needless to say, both states still have gun crimes. Instead of drilling down to gun crime stats and boring each other to death (so to speak), let’s do this a little differently. Let’s forget firearm crime per se and look at the big picture: the total number of murders (of all kinds) in California and Massachusetts.

The Golden State murder rate has remained around 2k per year since 1998. In the same time frame, The Bay State’s’ murder rate has hovered around the 180 per year mark.

Here’s where the idée fixe comes in. Gun control supporters insist that the stable crime rates prove that gun control is working. There would have been more death and destruction if these states didn’t have restrictive gun laws.

To refute that calculation, all you have to do is compare MA and CA to states with comparable populations that don’t have restrictive gun laws and see if their murder rates are lower, higher or the same. And the answer is . . . it’s pretty much the same.

[Feel free to crunch your own stats. Click here for a link to Excel spreadsheets on FBI crime stats by state from 1960 - 2009.]

So, when it comes to reducing murder, strict gun control laws aren’t working. But they cost taxpayers big bucks, and add expense and hassle to the process of owning a firearm—which makes it harder for low income citizens to own or GASP! carry a gun.

On the other side of the fixed idea front, gun rights groups need to stop fixating on guns and start focusing on criminals. If locking-up the bad guys is the answer (and I think there are others), they must commit tax money to make it so.

In the current political climate, where the clamor for smaller government grows louder and louder, there’s a growing movement to reduce or eliminate ineffective, inefficient regulations. Gun control laws are in the crosshairs of gun rights groups. The fact that they’re succeeding at rolling back these laws reflects mainstream acceptance of the small government principle in general, and the ineffectiveness of gun control laws in specific.

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About Robert Farago

Robert Farago is the Publisher of The Truth About Guns (TTAG). He started the site to explore the ethics, morality, business, politics, culture, technology, practice, strategy, dangers and fun of guns.

2 Responses to How Can This Happen in California?

  1. avatarTTACer says:

    re: "Gun Crime"

    How does an inanimate object do anything of its own volition, let alone commit a crime?

  2. avatarcaptaindigital says:

    See, I agree with the concept that we need to concentrate on the criminals, and not the guns. It seems like common sense to me that gun control laws do nothing to stop the bad guys from getting guns. BUT…locking up criminals seems like an expensive way to deter crime. That's why I'm for two penal reforms that I think will bring about some real deterrent power. 1) a return to chain gangs. 2) a streamlined capital punishment process.

    We've got this huge, largely untapped workforce, languishing in prisons. Why not put 'em to work? Think about it. In certain parts of the country, we could eliminate the need for illegal, migrant workers entirely. That would help the border problem (not to mention reduce the crime rate, as a huge number of those committing crimes are illegal aliens), and it could even reduce our carbon footprint. (Why use Diesel-powered combines, when human labor is cheap and plentiful?) And the visual image of a bunch of convicts doing back-breaking labor appeals to me. Screw the ACLU, Amnesty International and the rest of the libs who put the feelings of the criminals ahead of the victims.

    Point two: If we created a streamlined capital punishment process, it could at the very least 'thin the herd' and cut down on prison populations. First, if there are eye-witnesses, DNA, and other 'cant-weasel-outta-this-one' evidence of a capital crime, fry the bastard. Limit them to a single review of the trial. Allow exculpatory evidence to insure no prosecutorial misconduct. Slap a one-year time limit on the process. If the perp is a multiple offender murderer, stick a needle in his arm and be done with it. The anti-capital punishment side claims "it's too expensive to put someone to death." That's true, but only because of how long and drawn-out the appeals process is. Fix that, and then televise the injections, hangings, or firing squads, and you'd have a ratings hit AND reduced prison populations.

    Do this, and I think that crime stats WILL go down, and we can all go back to lusting over the Next Big Thing in self defense products.

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