This week, the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning think tank, released a report analyzing the link between gun violence and gun laws in each state. The paper concluded that, "While the strength of a state's gun laws is just one factor in the prevalence of gun related violence in the state and cannot alone account for gun violence, there is a clear
link between weak gun laws and high levels of gun violence across the United States."
"The 10 states with the weakest gun laws," the paper stated, "collectively have an aggregate level of gun violence that is more than twice as high--104 percent higher, in fact--than the 10 states with the strongest gun laws."
The authors of the study ranked California as the state with the No. 1 strongest gun laws. So, given the correlation between gun laws and gun violence, you'd expect the Golden State would at least rank among the top 10 states with lowest rate of gun violence.
Sadly, that's not the case.
The authors measured gun violence through 10 different data points, then averaged each state's ranking on each of those stats. California's cumulative score placed it 11th on the list of states with the least gun violence.
California's score was buffered by certain stats indirectly tied to in-state gun violence. The state has the ninth-lowest firearm suicide rate, the fifth-lowest rate of exported guns found at a crime scene, and the fourth-lowest rate of exported guns that ended up at a crime scene within two years.
But when it came to Californians shooting each other, the state's level of violence deeply contradicted its standing as the state with the "strongest gun laws." While California had the ninth-lowest rate of firearm deaths in 2010, it ranked 31st in firearm homicides that year, at 3.6 per 100,000 people, which was slightly higher than the national average. The state also ranked 30th in aggravated assaults with a firearm in 2011.
Pull the lens back a decade, and California had only the 16th-lowest rate for firearms deaths between 2001 and 2010. But that number becomes even worse when you narrow the scope to those who get lifeboat-priority seating on a sinking ship. Twenty-three states had lower firearm homicide rates among women. And California ranked 31st lowest for firearm deaths among children.
Depending on your philosophies, these statistics may lead you to one -- or both -- of these conclusions: California needs even stronger gun laws or strong guns laws are not the primary solution to reducing gun violence.