SUMMARY California has the strongest firearm laws in the nation and they are making a difference. From 1993 to 2017, California’s firearm mortality rate declined by 55 percent—almost four times the decrease in the rest of the nation. Many of California’s most important firearm laws went into effect in the early 1990s. As California continued to enact strong firearm laws, its firearm death rate continued to decline.
California has done the best job in the country of enacting laws that make it harder for people who are a danger to themselves and others to acquire dangerous firearms. These laws have helped reduce both firearm homicides and firearm suicides, and have enabled law enforcement to combat gun trafficking and seize illegally owned firearms.
However, more must be done to make our communities safe. In 2015, California’s firearm death rate began to rise again, though far less than the increase in the rest of the country. The U.S. has the weakest firearm laws of any industrialized nation, and weak federal laws undermine California’s stronger laws.
Firearm violence destroys families and communities. We must all work together to keep dangerous weapons out of the hands of dangerous people. We are accomplishing this in California by enacting sensible firearm laws that save lives.
The report’s authors are Griffin Dix, Ph. D., Oakland/Alameda County Chapter, and Loren Lieb, M.P.H., San Fernando Valley Chapter. Griffin Dix taught Cultural Anthropology at Santa Clara University, was Research Director at MacWEEK and founded a computer industry research business. After his son was shot and killed in 1994, he represented the national Million Mom March chapters on Brady's Board of Directors.
Loren Lieb, M.P.H. retired after a career as an epidemiologist with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. Her son was injured in 1999 when a white supremacist attacked children and teachers at the Jewish Community Center in Granada Hills, California.