By Eric Barton
Florida Center for Investigative Reporting
California has seen a 56 percent drop in gun death rates in the past two decades, and a new report from the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence claims the decrease is related to the state’s gun restrictions.
California lawmakers have passed 30 gun laws in the past 20 years, including outlawing military-style weapons and the carrying of unloaded firearms in public. The restrictions have led to a precipitous drop in gun death rates, according to the study. In 1993, 5,500 Californians were killed by gunfire. In 2010, the number dropped to 2,935.
That decrease is in sharp contrast to Florida. A Florida Center for Investigative Reporting investigation published in April found that murders by firearms in Florida have increased dramatically since 2000, when there were 499 gun murders. Gun murders have climbed 38 percent — with 691 murders committed with guns in 2011, according to Florida Department of Law Enforcement data.
Three quarters of all homicides in Florida are now committed by guns, up from 56 percent in 2000.
There’s a direct correlation between the increase in Florida gun murders and the state’s lax gun regulations, says Laura Cutilletta, senior staff attorney at the San Francisco-based Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. “This really supports the idea that gun laws matter, and if you want to keep citizens safe, you need to pass stricter gun laws,” Cutilletta said.
Gun advocates see it differently. Sam Paredes, executive director of the pro-firearm Gun Owners of California, told the San Francisco Chronicle: “Some people have to try to take credit for anything they perceive as good news. It makes me laugh. Gun controls have nothing to do with drops in crime rates.”
The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence ranks each state based on the strictness of its gun laws. California scored an A-minus, while Florida earned a D-minus.