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How effective have California's gun laws been at reducing crime?

Strict gun laws, bullet buttons, featureless rifles, etc. How effective are they at reducing gun-related deaths and crime?

Guy Smith Guy Smith, Founder and lead researcher at the Gun Facts project
Written Apr 2

Mathematically speaking, not at all.

Responding to a claim made by a California-based gun control group, I examined the list of state-wide gun control legislation going back into the 1980s. Regressions run on all of these, and giving a fairly long period of time for the laws to have an impact, showed no correlation. Even looking for common confounding variables showed no effect.

What did work was targeting criminals (see Understanding California's Crime Collapse | Why Gun Control Was Not A Factor | Gun Facts and Cali Crossroads | Why L.A. gang violence is key to California's dropping crime rates | Gun Facts).

Recapped briefly, two laws passed roughly at the same targeted criminal gun use (10-20-Life) and also repeat offenders (Three-Strikes), this latter group containing folks who have in the past, or who might well in the future evolve into gun-using criminals. Given the massive number of people taken off the streets, we see a significant correlation. A dearth of other variables associated with the slide leads me to think this was the primary contributor.

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About the Author Guy Smith Guy Smith Gun control policy expert