Boxer’s claim of 56 percent reduction in gun violence includes suicide, accidental death

WASHINGTON - MAY 18: Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) listens to witnesses testify about the government response to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico during a hearing on Capitol Hill May 18, 2010 in Washington, DC. Congress continues to hold hearings about the BP Deepwater Horizon explosion and resulting oil spill. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer made the day of conservative media outlets when, in the wake of the San Bernardino massacre, she said, “In California, since the ‘90s, we have passed a number of important gun safety laws. And over that period of time, we’ve had a reduction in gun violence of 56 percent. Sensible gun laws work, we’ve proven it in California, and we’re not gonna give up.”

How accurate was the 56 percent figure? And does it mean California is really getting safer because of gun restrictions?

Boxer’s data point comes from the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, which found gun violence dropped between 1993 and 2010 in a study released in 2013:

Over the last 20 years, the number of people injured or killed by guns in California has decreased dramatically. In 1993, 5,500 Californians were killed by gunfire; by 2010, the most recent year for which data is available, that number had dropped to 2,935. In just two decades, the state’s gun death rate has been cut by 56 percent, a reduction that translates to thousands of lives saved every single year.

Boxer and the Law Center are correct that gun-related deaths are down.

Gun deaths per 100,000 residentsThe rate has wavered since the late 1990s, peaking at almost 9.6 deaths per 100,000 residents in 2002 before dropping to 7.7 in 2013, according to stats kept by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

There were about the same number of people killed in incidents involving guns in 1999 and 2013 — just under 3,000 — even as the population grew by 5 million.

Those deaths — the “gun violence” Boxer is referring to — are not limited to street gang shootings, domestic disputes that ended in death, or the murderous rampage of the couple in San Bernardino.

The figures also include suicides involving guns and accidental shootings, said Lindsay Nichols, senior attorney with the Law Center.

Is an accidental shooting really “gun violence”?

“Yes, I would say when someone gets shot, it is pretty violent,” Nichols said.

Other stats call into question the assertion that the state’s “sensible gun laws work.”

Four California cities – Compton, Oakland, San Bernardino and East Palo Alto – remain among the top 30 “murder capitals” in the U.S., according to an analysis of murder rates by the site NeighborhoodScout.

The state’s overall murder rate of 4.4 per 100,000 people is the same as Texas’, a state with no assault weapons ban that has recently adopted “open carry” for licensed gun owners.

California has seen other violent crimes rise recently.

Between 2013 and 2014, the state’s rate of aggravated assaults increased by two per 100,000 residents, to 236. Rapes increased by almost 11 per 100,000 to 30.

Gun sales up

While California continues its widespread reputation as a haven for gun control, weapons purchases are up.

Since the terrorist shootings, Californians have been buying more weapons, according to a story this week in the Los Angeles Times:

San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Deputy Adam Cervantes said 75 applications for concealed-weapons permits were submitted last weekend, about seven times the department’s normal application volume.


Orange County Sheriff’s Department Lt. Jeff Hallock said his office saw 130 applications for concealed-weapons permits last weekend, up from the roughly 30 applications that typically come in. Sheriff’s officials in Riverside and San Diego counties said they had likewise seen new interest from people asking about concealed-carry permits.

Gun sales in California were increasing even before the shooting. Sales more than doubled between 2008 and 2014, from 425,244 in 2008 to 931,037 last year. Handgun sales went from 208,312 in 2008 to 512,174 in 2014.

A comparison of maps showing the number of gun stores per 100,000 residents in California with the number of firearm homicides shows that more murders happen in areas with fewer gun stores. (See graphic)Gun death Map



Gun stores in CANichols, of the Law Center, said people buying guns to protect themselves is the way the law is supposed to work.

“It’s not my business to agree or disagree that guns make people safer,” she said. “Data shows that it doesn’t work that way, but I’m not going to argue with people who are law-abiding citizens who want to own guns. The problem is the people who shouldn’t own guns having them.”

At 20.1 percent of the adult population, California has one of the lowest rates of gun ownership in the U.S., and aside from Nebraska, the lowest this side of the Mississippi.


Write a comment
  1. Bruce
    Bruce 14 December, 2015, 12:11

    “Convert or die” is one issue that we need to defend against.

    Reply this comment
  2. Dyspeptic
    Dyspeptic 14 December, 2015, 16:18

    Poor Babs, she is so desperate to cheerlead for yet more gun control that she has to stoop to using phony statistics from a group of oligarch funded ambulance chasers. Treating suicide the same as violent crime is sleazy and misleading, yet typical of gun prohibitionist propaganda. They can’t win the debate by telling the truth, so they lie and misuse statistics.

    Naturally bubble brain Barbara forgets to mention that gun related homicides and violent crime are down by a similar amount nationally. There is no public safety miracle in Commiefornia caused by our fascistic and obnoxious gun laws. The reduction in violence is long term and national in scope.

    When the truth doesn’t fit the agenda the left always aborts the truth and then dismembers it, kind of like those poor helpless fetal infants Planned Parenthood mass murders on a daily basis for fun and profit.

    Reply this comment
  3. Spurwing Plover
    Spurwing Plover 14 December, 2015, 17:38

    More mindless clucking from a mindless old hen

    Reply this comment
  4. desmond
    desmond 14 December, 2015, 18:26

    Scum like her would be wearing their burquas in the new world reporting family members for defaming the pedophile.

    Reply this comment
  5. John S
    John S 15 December, 2015, 00:08

    “At 20.1 percent of the adult population, California has one of the lowest rates of gun ownership in the U.S., and aside from Nebraska, the lowest this side of the Mississippi.”

    This rings false.

    BATF has an arguable guess on the total number of guns in ‘civilian’ hands in the US. Gary Kleck pulled some numbers out of BATF data for pre-1948, I believe (I’m away from my library) and then collected the manufacturer and import/export data they compile annually. The net of all that is the approximately 327 million figure for US guns that has been used recently.

    It’s highly probable that the distribution is uneven; that is, 327 million guns (if that’s the right number) does not mean 327 million people have access to guns.

    General Social Survey and Rasmussen get numbers around 35% for ‘access to guns’ or the equivalent.

    But there are ample reasons to suspect telephone surveys on the point are getting bad data – people lying, and providing false negative responses. In this climate, who wants to signal ‘non virtue’ by telling a stranger that the respondent owns one or more guns?

    The proposed proxies I have seen used to make estimates – suicides by firearm and sales/subscriptions to gun magazines – are simply nonsense.

    Numbers attempting to quantify gun ownership or access by state look like feeble hand-waving. Nobody really knows the details at a level below ‘national’, and that number is pretty soft.

    Reply this comment
  6. Dude
    Dude 15 December, 2015, 07:59

    How telling of Boxer’s honesty when she leaves out the most obvious statistics.

    When gun laws are removed, crime goes down.
    When gun laws are implemented, crime goes up.

    Reply this comment
  7. Hank de Carbonel
    Hank de Carbonel 22 December, 2015, 08:07

    It also includes killings in movies, T.V. shows and works of fiction, but I repeat myself.

    Reply this comment
  8. SkippingDog
    SkippingDog 7 January, 2016, 09:42

    Why would any not include accidental deaths and suicide by firearms in the statistics? Gun deaths are gun deaths.

    Reply this comment
  9. Spurwing Plover
    Spurwing Plover 7 January, 2016, 19:11

    Please babs leave the whoppers for Burger King to make

    Reply this comment
  10. rufus44
    rufus44 16 January, 2016, 16:58

    Gun deaths are caused by emotional instability, incompetence, anger issues (sub group of first one), criminal intent (a broad collection of reasons). Relating gun deaths with gun sales means little to nothing.

    Making derogatory comments amounts to little more than a selfie on social media: we all ignore the seriousness of your comments as you wax eloquent for your own self image.

    Competence and maturity are the most important tools for reducing gun deaths, besides improving living conditions in poor areas (as in proper infrastructure, availability of quality resources), as a way to reduce crime.

    Sufficient background checks done either by the gov’t or the company that makes the gun (said company would be mandated to pass on information if legal issues arise) would mitigate some of the more violent acts for political reasons.

    Just owning guns will do little to nothing to reduce crime but increase the likelihood that emotionally unstable persons might act impulsively. Also, more guns increases the number that will get stolen, serial numbers filed off, and end up being used in crime.

    Both sides of argument are retarded. Looking at other countries, the single biggest way to reduce violence is through maturity. The kind not seen in these comments.

    Reply this comment
  11. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 16 January, 2016, 19:08

    Competence and maturity are the most important tools for reducing gun deaths…

    Well, then I think it is safe to say Teddy Steals is not going to be receiving a firearm anytime soon 🙂

    Reply this comment

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