California Leads The Nation
The Constitution’s Second Amendment says that people in the State of California can own and carry guns. But the state has the right to regulate and limit who can possess certain firearms and guns in general if it thinks doing so will make Californians safer.
Because of this, California’s gun laws are some of the country’s strictest laws. To buy a rifle or shotgun you have to be 18 years old. To buy a handgun you have to be 21. The Dealer’s Record of Sale (DROS) process requires all gun sales in California, including private sales and gun shows, to go through licensed dealers.
The California gun laws are summarized as follows:
- According to California law, anybody with reason to believe that a person threatens their own or others’ safety, including police enforcement, family members, employers, colleagues, or school staff, may seek a Gun Violence Restraining Order (GVRO). A person cannot own a gun under the GVRO.
- For all gun sales in California, there is a 10-day waiting period. Waiting periods are required in nine states and the District of Columbia, with California having one of the most stringent requirements.
- Universal Background Checks: The state of California mandates background checks on all firearms transactions, including private sales and those at gun shows.
- California sets the pace with legislation banning those with significant mental illnesses from obtaining guns. Involuntary inpatient and outpatient treatment and those under guardianship must be reported immediately under California law. Psychotherapy clinics and institutions are also obliged to file reports under specific conditions.
- Gun purchases in California are restricted to those at least 21 years old. Exceptions to this rule include those with a legitimate hunting license (e.g., an 18-year-old with a valid hunting permit may acquire some long guns).
Californians may sue anybody who sells unlawful assault weapons, components that can create weapons, firearms without serial numbers, or other weapons that are not registered with the State of California.
How Stricter Gun Control Impacts California
California’s gun safety laws save lives and serve as a model for the rest of the country looking for answers.
Since the early 1990s, the number of gun deaths in California has dropped by half.
From 1993 to 2017, 55% fewer people were killed by guns in California. Brady California states this is four times as much as it fell in the rest of the country. Many of California’s most influential gun laws were passed in the early 1990s. As the state’s gun laws got stricter, gun deaths dropped by 37% compared to the national average. The Giffords Law Center said California was the safest state for guns as of 2021.
In places like Florida and Texas, where gun laws are becoming less strict, the number of people killed by guns went up by more than 10%.
Californians are now 25% less likely to die in a mass shooting than people in other states. Even so, there were still several high-profile shootings in the state. The bad guys either get their weapons from outside the country or make them themselves. The number of young persons killed by guns in California is also 58% lower than the national average despite its large population.
As stated, Californians must wait ten days after applying to purchase a gun. Studies show that laws with waiting periods are linked to lower rates of gun suicide. According to one estimate, waiting period laws reduce gun suicides by 7–11%. One study found that waiting a few days before buying a gun can cut gun-related murders by about 17%. From 2010 to 2019, the number of gun deaths in California dropped by almost 6%. During that time, about 9% fewer people were killed with guns, and about 5% fewer people killed themselves.
Since the 1970s, one of the most solid research findings has been that the rate of gun violence decreases as the number of people who own guns decreases. In the United States, around 25% and 30% of people own guns. In California, it’s somewhere between 15% and 18%. The number of people who own guns is lower in California because of these state laws.
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Seppi Esfandi is an Expert Attorney who has over 21 years of practice defending a variety of cases.