California has strengthened its gun safety laws over the past 25 years and is now generally considered to have the strongest gun safety laws in the nation, reports the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange. Giffords Law Center, which evaluates the strength of state gun laws, gave California the top rank on its Annual Gun Law Scorecard. The state’s legislative changes have been associated with significant declines in overall gun deaths and homicides. Last year, the state still reported more than 1,400 gun homicides and 4,200 nonfatal shootings. In California and nationally, gun homicides remain the leading cause of death for African-American males between 15 and 34 and the second-leading cause for Latino males in that age bracket.
The Giffords center estimates that Californians pay $6.5 billion per year in direct costs associated with gun violence, including medical care, lost wages, costs to employers and the costs of criminal justice agencies. Over the last 25 years, cities have tested strategies to reduce shootings and homicides. The strongest evidence supports an approach often called “Operation Ceasefire” or “focused deterrence.” This strategy creates a police-community partnership that intervenes within networks of young men considered most likely to shoot someone or be shot themselves. From 2012 to 2017, the California Partnership for Safe Communities partnered with the cities of Oakland and Stockton to design and implement Ceasefire strategies. An evaluation by Northeastern University found that Oakland experienced a 52 percent reduction in fatal and nonfatal shootings that was primarily driven by the Oakland Ceasefire strategy. The evaluation also found reductions in gun shot victimization and reduced rates of arrest among program participants. Using similar methods, the Los Angeles Police Department and partner organizations have helped reduced gun violence by 70 percent over the last 15 years.