The Impossibility of Gun Control, In One Image

In California, one gun was sold for every 39 state residents just last year.


California is a state where officials pride themselves on tightening the screws on gun owners. The state even spends tens of millions of dollars it doesn't really have to stumble its way through an ill-conceived scheme to confiscate guns from people over felony convictions, varieties of mental illness, drug use, domestic violence allegations—even 40-year-old marijuana busts and screwed-up hospital documentation.

But it's a losing battle. Even in a political environment where villainizing guns and gun owners is a winning tactic, the ranks of the same are beyond officials' grasp, and growing.

Last year, almost one million firearms were sold in the state of California—through legal, official channels that the state knows about (under-the-table transactions swell those numbers by an inherently unknown amount). California has a population of about 39 million people, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. So in just one year, about one gun was sold for every 39 state residents.

That's after the hundreds of thousands of rifles, pistols, and shotguns sold each year, for decades.

California Bureau of Firearms

Strangely, state officials' strident touting of their anti-gun bona fides seem to have worked as an excellent marketing plan for the objects of their dislike.

There's a bit of media mythology at the moment, based on strangers knocking on people's doors and asking nosy, potentially fraught questions, that gun ownership is in decline across the United States. Maybe. But somebody is buying all of those guns in California, one of the minority of states moving in a more restrictive direction even as other states loosen gun laws. If ownership is in decline in the Golden State, a couple of people are amassing impressive collections.

Maybe those purchases are replacements for older firearms that wore out. Guns do eventually wear out. My Marlin lever action still shoots fine, but it shows some wear and tear. After all, it was manufactured in 1900. I expect that my son might have to retire the piece someday.

But it's a good bet that California's gun owners, and their guns, are here to stay.


NEXT: Begging to Die

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. The Impossibility of Gun Control, In One Image

    Oh, the little red Marxians will keep at it, count on it. If there are two things little red Marxians hate more than anything else is someone else’s wealth and individualism. In other words: they’re nothing more than envious rats.

    1. They will (and are) going after the ammo now.

      1. My English sucks today.

        Because it will be impossible to get rid of the guns in circulation, they will seek to restrict the ammo supply.

      2. Last year Central CA legislators wanted to ban lead ammo. For the environment, of course. Why do you gun nuts hate California condors?

        1. The California Dept. of Fish & Game (or whatever they call themselves now) finalized a rule prohibiting all ammunition that contains lead from being used in hunting within the state – the entire state. This includes .22LR, and goes into effect this year.

      3. Yep. They may fail miserably all the time, but the one constant with these fucks is they never, ever, stop. They are tireless in their desire to take away your liberty and your ability to defend yourself. Utterly tireless.

        Think about that. These people spend a large chunk of their time devising new, sure to fail anyway ways to deprive other people of a means to self defense. That’s what they care about. That’s what they want to do with their lives: fuck with yours.

        1. That’s what they want to do with their lives: fuck with yours.

          It’s because, I think, they’ve devolved to the point where their interaction with Other People’s Lives (by which I mean not family/friends) is how they define their value. It’s what gives them meaning. They’re “making a difference in the world”.

          The value of a life well lived, building joy with family and friends, has been much derided and despoiled. Now your value – or at least your value in the eyes of the others in your echo chamber – is in how much you “care for the oppressed”, measurable of course only in how much actual demonstrable interference you can show in their lives.

        2. Your gun liberty has the potential to injure in much the same way your fucking mouth can- which is why liberty is such a bitch to those with pursed lips attached to a face hanging on a brain rigged with contempt for deviation.

          1. “… those with pursed lips attached to a face hanging on a brain rigged with contempt for deviation.”


            1. I second the brilliance

        3. Re: Episiarch,

          Yep. They may fail miserably all the time, but the one constant with these fucks is they never, ever, stop.

          A good example of the Marxian schizophrenia is Stephanie Rawlings-Blake (the mayor of Baltimore) marching with locked arms with Al Sharpton, on the streets of a city she runs which was burned on her watch by rioters angered by a possible crime committed by a police force she commands.

          1. Are you implying that the situation in Baltimore was NOT the fault of Republicans ?


            1. You have to understand that in the purported “mind” of the average prog it is common knowledge that this is all the fault of republicans. The fact that it has gone so horribly wrong is proof that the republicans screwed it up so bad that bringing in the “right” people on every level could not fix it in time.

          2. and policed by a union that most Democrats would defend…

    2. I make up to $90 an hour working from my home. My story is that I quit working at Walmart to work online and with a little effort I easily bring in around $40h to $86h? Someone was good to me by sharing this link with me, so now i am hoping i could help someone else out there by sharing this link… Try it, you won’t regret it!……

  2. About half of those purchases were me.

    1. I need to come visit. I’ll buy ammo.

  3. Gun grabbers are not known for their grasp of reality. No animists are.

  4. “Guns do eventually wear out.”

    Being an AK owner, I dispute this.

    1. Yeah, the ones I got from my dad. I’m over 50, some of the guns were born before me….they alllllll work just fine 🙂

      And I fully anticipate my Glock will continue functioning for my great grandchildren, even if it’s never cleaned. Goddamned thing is amazing.

      1. I am proud to be the third generation to use and keep my grandparents guns and they bought them used. so long live the gun.

        1. When I was in college I bought a 50-year old Chilean Mauser then picked up some 60-year old military surplus ammo for it at a gun show. No problems with either. The idea that guns or ammo have a shelf life measured in anything short of centuries is a fantasy.

      2. My father’s .22 pump “wore out” until I replaced the firing pin. Works fine, now.

  5. Why it’s almost as if government cannot overcome demand for a product just by issuing decrees making it harder to obtain.

    1. They need to declare the entire state a Gun Free Zone. THAT’ll work, I’m sure of it.

    2. Well so far they are batting .000 with attempts going back to at least Tudor England

  6. 1992 – Clinton election. Makes sense. What happened in ’99 to cause that spike?

    1. The coming Y2K Apocalypse.

      1. I knew a lady who sold her business and bought coffee before Y2K because she felt coffee would be the ultimate currency after the world collapse.

        1. I went to Vegas to party on Freemont Street for Y2K. I figured that if the shit was going to hit the fan, I might as well be drunk and broke.

        2. I made a pilgrimage to the Twinkie Factory in Natick, RI.

        3. I sold overpriced, underpowered, diesel generators at 8% commission.
          Paid off my grad school loans.
          Need more apoco-panics.

          1. Nice

    2. ’92 was the LA riots.

  7. California Democrats will
    a) admit that strenuous gun control is a political loser,
    b) continue working to close “loophole” gun sales and interdict illegal gun transfers, while acknowledging the impossibility of limiting legitimate sales
    c) use this factoid to double down on their terrible policies.

    1. d) Insist all the while that they would never, ever, ever, in their wildest dreams, give even a hint of the slighest consideration to thinking about taking a single firearm away from any person at all.

      1. e) describe just how racist are the bitter clingers who publish these stats.

  8. All that rampant adulthood must be spellbinding for the draconian corps.

  9. Guns do eventually wear out.

    My old S&W Model 10 was worn to the point where the double-action wouldn’t completely turn the cylinder. Kinda dangerous when the pin misses the primer. For fifty bucks a gunsmith got it back into working order. Now it shoots like it did when it was made sixty-odd years ago. I love that gun.

    1. Yep. Moving parts in a gun wear out. Moving parts that are more often than not, replaceable.

      1. Kind of like your…never mind.

      2. Even barrels are replaceable unless you have something really exotic.

    2. There’s nothing as fine as a beautiful old Smith & Wesson!

      I do think that most guns (of halfway decent quality) will last for decades – even centuries – if they are cleaned and maintained properly. Even if a few parts wear out on these old guns, it shouldn’t be that hard to 3D print a new one and do some precision hand-fitting. I mean, the day is drawing near when we’ll be able to just 3D print a 1911 in the garage.

      It delights me to see gun control trampled under the march of technological progress.

      1. I mean, the day is drawing near when we’ll be able to just 3D print a 1911 in the garage.

        Already here, if you can afford the $500,000 printer.

        1. I want to be able to tell a computer, “make a Colt 1903 with a double stack magazine, and extend the barrel half and inch,” and it just does it.

      2. I’ve got a matched pair consisting of a K-22 and K-38 Masterpiece. Just a pleasure to behold as pieces of craftsmanship.

    3. “My old S&W Model 10 was worn to the point where the double-action wouldn’t completely turn the cylinder.”

      The hand and the cylinder stop are the first parts to wear out on S&W DAs. They are very easy to replace. Fifty bucks is a good price.

      1. Yeah. It would rotate, but not click into place. It was ever so slightly off, but it was enough for me to quit shooting the thing. Then a couple years ago I looked into getting it fixed, and was shocked at how cheap it was. Had I known I would have done it years ago.

  10. There’s a bit of media mythology at the moment, based on strangers knocking on people’s doors and asking nosy, potentially fraught questions, that gun ownership is in decline across the United States. Maybe. But somebody is buying all of those guns in California,

    The little red Marxians cling to things like that bogus statistic with not even a hint of critical thinking. it reminds me of the story of August Weismann, a XIX Century biologist who set up to disprove the theory of acquired traits (as told by Isaac Asimov in his book of facts) by cutting the tails of mice and waiting for new generations, to see if mice would be born without tails. Of course all mice continued to be born with tails, but as Asimov suggested, Weismann could have saved himself a lot of time and tail-cutting by simply thinking about all those male Jewish babies born with a foreskin, despite generations upon generations of circumcisions. The case of lower gun ownership is the same: little red Marxians go to this trouble of asking people if they own guns when there are perfectly good statistics which are called “Sales Reports” that give you this information without risking being lied to. Like J.D said: someone is buying all those guns.

    1. Their story is that the number of households owning guns has dwindled, meaning that it is only people who alreayd own guns who buy the new guns.

      It’s lame as it sounds, but it’s their story, it’s the only one they have, and they’re sticking with it.

      1. Re: Scarecrow Repair,

        No question about it. And it is up to each of us to take their ad hoc explanations at face value or with a grain of salt. You already know how the little red Marxians think: they want to believe the most outlandish explanations like the one you suggest, or that only a few gun nuts are buying all the guns, and not that people are simply lying to pollsters who they see with suspicion.

      2. it is only people who already own guns who buy the new guns.

        I keep hearing that. I keep asking why my Buying Your First Gun and New Shooter and Hunter Education classes are full.

        1. Took me three tries to get into my hunter ed class this year. No signups, had to get there an hour and a half early to get a spot.

    2. People FTMP have stopped telling pollsters the truth, whether in person or over the phone.
      Don’t want to be considered Un-PC.

  11. All you people ever talk about are guns.

    And how crazy Tulpa, Palin and Tony are.

    1. And ass sex.

      1. Mexican ass sex.

          1. While on drugs, of course. And drinking a Cosmo made with locally-sourced artisanal bitters.

            1. Your new monocle has shipped, hamilton, and you should see it tomorrow.

    2. Yeah? And?

      1. I took it as some form of compliment.

      2. Nothing.

        And sex with mothers.

    3. We also spend a lot of time talking about what we talk about.

      1. That’s a very good point, HP, and one well worth discussing.

        1. Now come on, I think we need to consider that before we do something rash like jumping into a discussion.

          1. Another good point, and I second your motion for consideration and an appropriate amount of deliberation.

            *begins pondering, holding chin in hand*

    4. I need to take Agile Cyborg out for a bona fide shooting session with full-auto belt-feds and suppressed sub-machineguns. That would pretty much cover our holy trinity in as small a footprint as possible.

  12. One thing I’ve found interesting is all of the people on the left supporting the riots as justified violent rebellion against an oppressive government/society, who ordinarily are the first people to condemn anyone on the right who makes any sort of noise about the possibility or theoretical justification of violent revolt as extremist violent nutjobs. And furthermore, they are usually the kind of people who are all in favor of laws that make it legal for only the cops to have guns.

    1. Principals, not principles.

    2. Being a special kind of victim allows you to behave any way you want. You white men need to keep your mouths shut and pay your taxes.

      1. Get off of our high horses?

      2. I think it’s more ideological – if OWS-types were rioting, you’d probably get a lot of the same people justifying it. The part that baffles me is how they don’t realize the disconnect between justifying it as necessary while supporting taking away the tools necessary for it to have any chance of success.

        1. If it has any chance of success, then it has a chance to spread to New York or San Francisco and affect the people justifying it. They don’t want it to succeed, they just want to preen and lecture about how great it is before their beloved government crushes it.

    3. Re: Calidissident,

      And furthermore, they are usually the kind of people who are all in favor of laws that make it legal for only the cops to have guns.

      You can’t expect rational and logical consistency from ideologically-committed fools.

    4. Funny how it’s angry right wingers, filled with rage, that are on the verge of lashing out, yet the violence always comes from the left.

      1. to be fair…

        …rioters in baltimore, ferguson, etc are not “the left”

        Although i thought the video of brandon soderburg pulling the white women (then later trying to destroy her) out of the way so that rioters could smash the windows of a business was exceptional for its rare honesty

        1. Soderburg also claimed that it was, in fact, the white woman trying to steal the black man’s pink purse. He’s a rare breed.

      2. “The dark night of fascism is always descending in the United States and yet lands only in Europe.”
        – Tom Wolfe

      3. Right wingers are too busy going to work to have time to protest and be violent.

    5. What sarcasmic said.

  13. DefDist found somebody to ship their lower receiver CNC mill after FedEx and UPS refused. The shipper’s name isn’t readily available. Cynically, I’d guess it’s the USPS and they’re making a list of recipients.

  14. Want to make gun-grabbers shit their pants? Behold DARPA’s self-correcting magic bullets!

    Great news for all you 1%ers *who want to one day hunt man, the most dangerous game of all.

  15. Obama is a secret NRA plant

    (conspiracy sound)

    1. That was my first thought upon seeing the graph. Looks like someone installed a trampoline around 2008-09

  16. Speaking of guns, does anyone have experience with .44 magnum or .357 magnum revolvers? The ‘Dirty Harry’, ‘Magnum Force’ guns are cool looking but the rounds appear a little intimidating relative to .45 ACP.

    1. The nice thing is that you can use regular .38 rounds in a .357 mag, or .44 Special in a .44 mag. So you can save money money and your wrists when you target shoot,

      1. That’s great info, thanks, Drake!

      2. True, at least for the .38/.357.

        The .44 SPL ammo isn’t nearly as popular, so either you find a big gun store, order online, or you’ll mostly see lead roundnose Cowboy Action ammo.

        With .38 SPL most stores with a decent ammo department will have target wadcutters, FMJ, self-defense, and maybe even snakeshot.

        OTOH I do like my snubnose .44 SPL/big .44 Mag/.44 Mag lever action set.

        1. Is that snubbie a Bulldog?

    2. .357 in a stainless Colt Python-manageble
      .357 in a scandium 340PD-stupid

      1. ^THIS!

        This secret* is the one that new shooters need to know. The lighter a gun is, the harder it kicks.

        * It’s a secret because we all know it, and forget to tell new shooters. I see way to many new chums at gun counters thinking, It’s small. It’s light. It’ll be easy to shoot. Then they take the 50-round CHL practical with an airweight .38 snubbie, and go trade it in on a heavier gun.

    3. my snub nose .357 mag kicks a little more than the 45 but its not bad and if the revolver is a heavier 6″ I see no problem. I have no experience with the 44 mag.

    4. My grandad had a .357(which has now found its way to my house). I never had any problem with it, but I’m a big sumbitch so take that with a grain of salt. Like Drake said, you can use .38 ammo with it.

    5. “does anyone have experience with .44 magnum or .357 magnum revolvers?”


      I tend to run when i see them.

      1. Why? No point in dying tired.

        1. Wouldn’t there be no point in dying rested?

        2. I need the exercise

      1. *drools…begins looking for a second job to support gun wishlist*

        1. A few years ago I bought two raffle tickets for $10.00 each and won one of these (although mine is chrome):…..rrorView_Y

          Don’t hate me.

      2. daddy like

        i hear 1970s funk soundtracks when i see that

    6. Fire a Desert Eagle first and the other two seem like .22’s.

    7. I’m really down with the .357 idea especially if I can get a matching lever-action carbine.

      1. Yes you can get a matching lever action carbine. Part of the reason I want either a .357 or a .44.

      2. That’s what I did. Its fun aa hell to shoot the lever gun. I do need a semiautomatic.357.

    8. I have a Ruger GP100 in .357 with the 4-inch barrel. Love it. It does kick quite a bit with full-power .357 loads, but the recoil is very light with .38 plinking ammo.

      It came with one of those Hogue ergonomic grips, which are nice, but they look kind of goofy, in my opinion. I found an old GP100 grip on eBay and I love the way it looks. It has more of that classic revolver appearance.

      It’s probably my favorite handgun.

    9. I have two .357s–a Taurus snubby and a Ruger GP100. The latter is more comfortable to shoot by a huge margin, but I use .38 ammo to lessen the kick on the former. With the snubby, in a carry situation I’d still wouldn’t use anything stronger than .38+P, but there are plenty of people who are comfortable shooting the .357s in that configuration. You won’t really know until you take it out to shoot.

      The Ruger in particular is a damn tank. It’s one of the best overall consumer purchases I ever made.

    10. A guy from my former reserve unit – SpecOps background which makes Jack Bauer look like a wannabee – carries a short-barreled Taurus in 44 Mag. He likes the stone simplicity of the action and figures that if six rounds of 44 Mag isn’t enough he was SOL anyway.

  17. Guns do eventually wear out. My Marlin lever action still shoots fine, but it shows some wear and tear. After all, it was manufactured in 1900. I expect that my son might have to retire the piece someday.

    Ah yes…the “if we just stop manufacturing firearms they’ll all rust away in a couple of years” argument. I swear most progressives shouldn’t be out of the unless they’re on a leash with a minder!

    1. And the Colorada congresswoman who thought magazines were one use only.

      1. We’re really lucky that most of our opponents are retarded.

      2. Hey that’s the way it is in the movies so that’s how it is in real life! When did you ever see anyone in a movie reload a magazine? So obviously you just toss them after they are empty!

  18. I assume the upward trend that started in 2008 was due to all the bitter clingers who couldn’t deal with a strong black man being president.

  19. …about one gun was sold for every 39 state residents.

    What? As in timeshares?

    1. Ooh. Idea. Any 51 of you want a Barrett .50 for a week a year?

      1. I would think the “sloppy seconds” issues here would be significant.

      2. I’m in.

  20. “[…]There’s a bit of media mythology at the moment, based on strangers knocking on people’s doors and asking nosy, potentially fraught questions, that gun ownership is in decline across the United States.[…]”

    Hello there, Mr. or Ms. Citizen! I’m from some outfit collecting this data for reasons I won’t share with you and of course, we’ll never reveal any of it to the gov’t!
    Would you like to tell us exactly how many firearms you own?

    1. “My guns all wore out.”

  21. Amassing impressive collections…..I blame the Koch Brothers, even if they do live in Kansas.

  22. Bought a .22 and a 12 ga in Cali in the last two years. Glad to contribute to the statistics.

  23. “…it’s a good bet that California’s gun owners, and their guns, are here to stay.”

    Only until they leave the state for one with more respect for their constitutional rights.

  24. When you criminalize guns the only people with guns will be criminals. Politicians seem to think that passing laws will stop people from getting guns who should not have them. They totally ignore that the definition of a criminal is someone who violates or ignores the law. Laws cannot control people who refuse to obey them.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.