Does California’s Latest Mass Shooting Show the Country’s Strictest Gun Laws Are Not Strict Enough?

Six people were killed and twelve others injured in a mass shooting last weekend in Sacramento. This was predictable. There was immediate demand for more gun control. This is a common pattern in gun policy discussions, where most people rehash previous ideas in response to mass shootings.

Sacramento BeeThe weekend of apparently gang-related violence that began at 2 AM Sunday morning in downtown where nightclubs just closed was described as the “worst mass shooting in City History.” It was the worst mass shooting in city history. Los Angeles TimesAccording to the shooting, “California’s most fatality in 2022 was it,” but “there were worse incidents in the past year.” These incidents are supposed to highlight the importance of gun control but they also cast doubt on this argument since California has some of the most strict gun laws in America.

Everytown for Gun Safety explicitly acknowledges the inconvenient reality in their press release regarding the Sacramento shootout. It states that California’s gun sense heroes have responded consistently to gun violence tragedies through taking actions on gun safety policies. “Strong gun laws save lives—and California is a clear example of that. While the state has one of the lowest levels of gun violence, its lawmakers lead the gun violence prevention effort.

California has the seventh lowest rate of firearm-related death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The ranking of firearms is less impressive. homicidesEverytown for Gun Safety is referring to this in the context of homicide. California’s gun crime rate, which was calculated using data for 2010-2017, was slightly lower than those in 24 US states. However it was higher than that in 25 other states with more restrictive gun laws.

California’s restrictions on firearms have led to fewer homicides that otherwise would have happened. This can be demonstrated by looking at the events that occurred in California after these laws were passed, and comparing it with what took place in similar areas that didn’t have such laws. It’s hard to believe that laws like the “California has one of the lowest levels of gun violence in America” as lawmakers pass gun law after gun law is passed.

Everytown for Gun Safety believes that California’s stringent gun laws have proven to be effective. But, they claim the state has been hindered by other states not following California’s lead. The state is home to many states that have weaker gun laws, and it has been the epicenter of “ghost guns.” It says that the violence against firearms continues. California is not as safe as neighboring states with weaker gun laws. Therefore, federal action is needed to ensure all US states require background checks when selling guns.

The reference to “ghost guns”—i.e., homemade firearms without serial numbers—seems like a non sequitur. Three arrests have been made in connection with the Sacramento shooting investigation. CNN stated that the video shared on social media “appears to show an altercation preceding the shooting” and police are investigating whether this incident is related. These were the results. Los Angeles Times says Sacramento police believe it started with a dispute between gang members.

To my knowledge, there has not been any mention of “ghost gun” so far. California requires serial numbers for all firearms, even homemade guns. Everytown for Gun Safety says that California is still the “epicenter for ghost guns.”

Police claim that more than 100 rounds of ammunition were used by several people in the Sacramento shooting. They claimed that one weapon was a modified handgun, which had been illegally altered to make it a “machine guns” under California law. That is a weapon capable of firing more than one shot automatically, with no manual reloading and using a single trigger operation. California has prohibited the ownership of any such guns without issuing a rare permit. They are also strictly controlled by federal law which prohibits sales to civilians of machine guns that have been newly made since 1986.

How about “Background checks for all firearm sales?” California’s requirement for universal background checks, which covers private transfers and sales made by federally-licensed dealers since 1991 has been in effect. The requirement, according to a 2019, was found not to have contributed to an improvement in California’s firearm murder rate in the 10 years that followed. A second study found that background checks are often ignored. It was shown that background checks were more common in Delaware than they were in California. However, it did not happen when Washington and Colorado enacted similar laws.

Everytown for Gun Safety says that the problem with universal background checks is not required in all 50 states. That is why we have a federalThis law applies to the whole country. It is unlikely that the public will have a greater willingness to comply with this requirement. In practice, that means gun transfers need to be mediated only by federally licensed dealers. They should. It is difficult to understand how this requirement can be relevant in light of what occurred in Sacramento.

After the shooting, police found a converted handgun. StealedThis is not the type of transfer that could be affected by a law mandating background checks for all gun sales. The Bureau of Justice Statistics found that just 10% of firearms used in crime were purchased from a “retail source”, such as gun stores, pawn shops, flea markets, and gun shows. Nine in ten guns were purchased from friends, relatives, “underground market” and theft.

This makes perfect sense, particularly if criminals have felony records which disqualify them legally from owning guns. These workarounds have been around for a long time so expanding background check requirements to include all transfers can’t be expected to significantly impact criminals access to guns.

It would seem unlikely that any federal law mandating background checks on gun sales would have prevented the Sacramento shooting. Instead, we would need to think that the criminals would 1) have failed background checks and 2) have managed to evade them by purchasing guns from private sellers in states that would comply with such laws. This is evidently not true for the conversion handgun and seems unlikely to hold true for other guns used in this shooting.

Everytown for Gun Safety also suggests that California legislators should respond to this incident by approving 10 bills, including “legislation to require schools to notify parents and guardians about secure storage laws,” “legislation to allow lawsuits against manufacturers and sellers of firearms for the harm caused by their product,” “legislation to further restrict ghost guns in California by ensuring that these parts and kits cannot be sold until they are treated as firearms under federal law,” and “legislation to create a private right of action for the residents of California that would allow citizens to sue anyone who is found to be in violation of the state’s firearm laws relating to the illegal manufacturing/transferring/Selling of ghost gun parts or assault weapons.”

It is unclear what all of this has to do the Sacramento shooting, which supposedly demonstrated the necessity for these measures. According to NPR, the “State with the Most Gun Laws” headline says that “after the Sacramento shooting,” “the state with more gun laws might soon get even better.” Sacramento Bee Notes that California has [the]The toughest U.S. gun regulations” and “After [the]Sacramento Shooting: What else can legislators do? You can read the entire article here. Bee Here’s a selection of the things they have accomplished so far

They have banned large-capacity magazines, and they are cracking down on assault weapons. Californians must pass background checks to buy ammunition and guns. Buyers can’t have ammo and “ghost” parts of guns shipped to their home. California lawmakers have enforced some of the toughest gun laws anywhere in the United States, and they’ve checked almost every box on the wishlist for national gun control advocates.

The Bee California does not have some other items checked. California includes gun registration and a waiting period of 10 day for purchases. California also has an expansive “red flag law” that doesn’t respect due process and a carry permit policy, which treats the right to bear and keep arms as a privilege at the discretion of the government. However, there is always room for more on the wish list of gun control advocates. Everytown for Gun Safety had a few ideas. They don’t matter if they are It’s good ideas—and in particular, whether they plausibly could prevent the sort of violence that Sacramento saw over the weekend—is another matter.