The study does not quantify the exercise of constitutional rights as a factor in Californians’ gun purchases.
“California may have some of the nation’s most restrictive gun control laws,” Andrew Sheeler reports in the Sacramento Bee, “from bans on assault rifle sales to mandatory background checks for ammunition sales, but that isn’t stopping Golden State residents from buying firearms.”
Sheeler cites Firearm ownership and acquisition in California: findings from the 2018 California Safety and Well-being Survey, published the magazine Injury Prevention. According to the study, roughly 25 percent of California adults live in a home with a firearm.
Californians own nearly 20 million firearms, including 8.9 million handguns, and these were “purchased primarily for protection against people.”
The study, which takes a public-health approach, cites a “perceived need for self-protection,” among gun owners. This suggests that “efforts aimed at reducing firearm death and injury may need to address self-protection as a primary driver of ownership, along with misperceptions about the benefits and risks of having a firearm in the home.” What the study does not include may also be of interest to Californians who own legally purchased firearms.
The study includes no reference to the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution enshrining the right to keep and bear arms. Likewise, the study does not quantify the exercise of constitutional rights as a factor in Californians’ gun purchases.
The study does not quantify gun ownership by criminals, who do not follow California’s restrictive laws. The study’s only reference to criminals comes in an endnote about “subsequent criminal activity among violent misdemeanants who seek to purchase handguns.”
Self-protection is only a “perceived need” in this study, which does not quantify gun violence by criminals against law-abiding citizens. In similar style, Firearm Ownership does not chart the number of times law-abiding citizens used legally purchased firearms to protect themselves against violent criminals. Also missing is any reference to recent legislation that empowers violent criminals.
Under Senate Bill 1391, signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2018, any criminal under the age of 16 could use a stolen firearm to murder or wound any number of people. That criminal would escape prosecution as an adult and if convicted serve only until age 25 in comfy juvenile facilities.
Self-protection is only a “perceived need” in this study
One of the study’s authors is Dr. Garen Wintemute of the state-funded Firearm Violence Research Center at UC Davis. A recent study from the Center claims that gun purchases lead to more gun- related injuries, a post hoc ergo propter hoc approach that does not exactly qualify as medical science.
Dr. Wintemute is a supporter of the red-flag measures that allow police to remove guns from people making deadly threats against others or themselves. The physician, recently profiled in Sactown Magazine, also finds the orders useful “in cases where no crime is committed” and “where mental illness is not involved.”
In 2018, Wintemute sought to extend the prohibition on gun purchases to misdemeanors such as assault and battery. He also supports taking firearms away from persons who purchased them legally, but then became prohibited from owning them.
The Firearm Ownership study Wintemute co-authored touts “the epidemiology of firearm-related death and injury.”
If California’s law-abiding gun owners perceive the authors as gun grabbers disguised in white coats it would be hard to blame them. Gun owners and Second Amendment advocates can find a different perspective in this interview with John Lott, author of More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws.
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