California Doesn't Need More Gun Laws: Senior Editor Brian Doherty in Orange County Register


The San Bernardino terror attacks this month prompted calls for more gun control in both California and nationwide. An op-ed I wrote that ran last week in the Orange County Register explains why that response doesn't make a lot of sense.


Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, already running hard for governor in 2018, seems to think more laws would end gun violence. He used the San Bernardino massacre to push a gun control initiative he was already promoting for next year's ballot.

That initiative would extend existing background-check requirements for gun purchases to ammunition as well. It would also extend the existing ban on magazines holding more than 10 rounds to include currently grandfathered magazines. That would require trying to confiscate all existing such magazines and would create an instant new class of "criminals" statewide who have harmed no one.

Anyone concerned with the civil liberties of Californians might wonder if we need more contraband for overzealous police to hunt down in our homes, cars or on our persons, especially contraband that almost never causes any harm.

"What more evidence do you need that we need to step it up as it relates to gun safety in the state?" Newsom said after San Bernardino.

Gun control advocates don't talk about it much, but in the past 22 years, the rate of gun murders in this country has gone down by half. In the past decade, U.S. gun murder rates have dropped by 16 percent.

California has done even better, with gun homicides dropping 36 percent from 2005-14. We have no reason to believe our tough gun laws are significantly responsible for those great results. We've seen very large, though not quite as large, drops in all violent crime and property crime as well over the past decade, and gun laws can't be credited for that.

Social scientists agree that, despite our national gun murder plunge beginning after the national Brady Law background check was passed in 1993, that law was not the cause of the drop. Laws are easily breakable, and no amount of background checks can prevent the previously law-abiding from committing a crime with a gun, which is what we've seen in most prominent mass shooting tragedies. Laws are not why our gun violence trends are improving so much.

But those trends are real, and wonderful. Since gun laws more often restrict the rights of the peaceful and law-abiding than they prevent crimes against others, and since even the vast majority of most hideous public tragedies were not stopped by existing laws and would not have been stopped by proposed ones, there's no good reason to think we need more gun laws in California.

Read the whole thing.

Reason on gun control.

NEXT: Reason TV's Most Viewed Videos of 2015

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. It would also extend the existing ban on magazines holding more than 10 rounds to include currently grandfathered magazines.

    So every box I have in my basement which reads “not legal in California” will be really, really not legal in California?

    1. Not those kinds of magazines, DR!

      1. I said “basement”, not under my bed.

      2. +1 Barely Legal

        1. “This product is known to the State of California to cause chafing, slurred speech, and hairy palms.”

    2. So, when they change to the law so that something that was perfectly legal, becomes illegal, is that not a (regulatory) taking? Aren’t they depriving you of your property? Shouldn’t they have to pay you for it? If not, why not?

      Imagine (and, sadly, its not hard to do) that CA makes it illegal for any household to own more than one car, or to own a car with an internal combustion engine. For vehicles acquired after the ban, I can see just confiscating them. But what about all the cars that people own (and paid for) before the ban?

      1. King County passed the “Critical Areas Ordinance” several years ago which equated to a regulatory taking by declaring anywhere from 50 to 65 percent of rural properties to be left in their “natural” state, ie “undeveloped”. It took four years for the Washington courts to strike the 50-60% provision down because it was “inconsistent with a state law that sets standards and limits on the taxes, fees, and charges a county may impose on development.”

        So a victory is a victory, but it seems to have been struck down on local technicalities and flourishes of law.

        I guess what I’m trying to say is no one sees this shit as “takings” any more, and post-Kelo, I’m not sure if there is any circumstances where a ‘taking’ wouldn’t be constitutional.

  2. BTW, Brian, that was a great op-ed. Unfortunately, the choir you’re trying to preach to didn’t hear a word of it.

    1. California should expand Prop. 65 to cover stuff that has X parts per trillion of anxiety-causing components. Similar to their standard Prop. 65 analysis, the legal thresholds for bans should be set to a figure at least two orders of magnitude beyond even the slightest possible threat to humans. A kind of regulatory reverse homeopathy.

      1. My favorite nonsense along these lines is “No safe blood lead level in children has been identified” by the CDC. It’s utterly meaningless yet it gets repeated in any discussion of lead toxicity like a mantra.

        1. Every human on Earth has lead in the blood. Along with traces of even more dangerous substances, not to mention radiation pelting us from above.

          1. If you read the linked page, they basically say “we are crusading against lead and don’t really care about spreading reliable information on its effects and toxicity levels”.

            1. +1 Feelz like lead


                1. Lead and lead-like substances, like gold.

        2. It’s CDC. Rational thought cannot be expected from them.


    They have feels. And feels says “DO SOMETHING”. You are trying to Stop Something. Therefore, you are a plant by the Right-Wing Gun Promoting Death Cult of Oligarchs. Duh.

    1. Right-Wing Gun Promoting Death Cult of Oligarchs

      I don’t suppose they have a newsletter?

    2. Glad someone finally said what we were all thinking.

  4. he’s already had an affair with a married woman and been to rehab. i look forward to this gun grabber imploding as governor of CA.

    1. How very Californian of him. He’ll win in a landslide.

  5. In related news, my 30rd magazines have been stolen.

    1. In completely unrelated news, so have mine.

      Pay no attention to the excavation and fresh dirt in my back yard.

      (Even though I’m not in California anymore, and will never live there again)

      1. Pay no attention to the excavation and fresh dirt in my back yard.

        We assumed that’s where your wife is.

      2. I’m looking forward to orders out of here. This is such a great state in terms of climate and geography that the witless fucktards in charge have ruined.

        To sum it up:
        I want burritos, IPA, avocado, and year round appropriate wearing of yoga pants. I don’t care if you are vegan, gay, or worship the sun goddess. Stop taxing the fuck out of me for shit I don’t want and taking away my civil liberties.

    2. Or… you could just… you know… move.

  6. The SB shooters (plural) bought legal guns and modified them to increase firepower. And they had dozens of pipe bombs. AND they had a third party purchase guns on their behalf.

    The only thing that runs inside the minds of gun control advocates is “guns bad, must ban”. They choose ignore radical elements actively adapting to their laws and restrictions.

    1. You can build a reliable firearm in about six hours with parts you buy at any hardware store (or about 12 hours if you start from scratch). You can learn to make your own effective ammunition in about 40 hours (80 if you have to learn on your own with no instruction), and making ammunition is fast once you get the hang of it. And this is only to replicate the current firearm designs. If you are creative you can improvise a lot of other, equally effective firearms without the bother of learning the stuff above.

      So, two weeks and two days of planning, and you can still have a gun and still walk into a gun free zone and still kill people. And, if you are making your gun, you can make it fully automatic and not have any magazine restrictions.

      But, no, this new set of laws will totally stop people who want to kill others, because people always follow the law. To the letter.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.