California has millions more guns than it did 10 years ago. It also has thousands fewer gun injuries and deaths each year. Those are two facts that, depending on whom you ask, have everything or nothing to do with each other, says the Sacramento Bee. From one perspective, the figures suggest that more guns mean less violence –a view embraced by many gun-rights advocates. They say criminals are less inclined to draw their weapons out of fear their targets will also be armed. “Criminals don’t know who has a gun,” said Sam Paredes of Folsom, Ca.-based Gun Owners of California.
Others who study crime in the U.S. say the trends are more nuanced. Most gun-related hospitalizations and deaths are due to assaults. And the drop in firearm-related injuries in California coincides with a well-documented, nationwide drop in violent crime that began in the early 1990s. Researchers said that drop has little to do with gun sales, which peaked in California around 1993 as gun crime also hit a high point. For much of the 1990s, guns sales fell while gun injuries also declined. They say changing demographics, improved law enforcement techniques, stronger laws dictating who can legally buy guns, increasing incarceration rates, and falling gang violence, among other factors, have driven down gun injuries. Not in dispute is the fact that guns are flying off California shelves.