Barbara Boxer, a day after the San Bernardino massacre: California has proved that sensible gun laws work

Via the Free Beacon, the first rule of politics in action: When you’ve got a big “success” on your hands, you’ve gotta tout it.

Is it true, as she says, that gun violence is way down in California since they started passing more gun-grabbing laws? Sure. It’s also down in states that haven’t passed such laws. Gun violence has been dropping across America for 20 years now, although the decline has leveled off a bit over the last few years (possibly due to more suicides over economic despair). Here’s a stat I’ve seen before but which boggles my mind even now:


Again, that’s nationwide, not California. WaPo has a short but smart piece out this afternoon suggesting various reasons for the drop — more policing (and smarter policing), less alcohol consumption, an economic rebound in the 1990s that persisted into the following decade, and most intriguingly, lower levels of lead in the air which may have led to healthier brain development for children born during the past 40 years. Crime is a complicated thing, as everyone understands. Except Barbara Boxer.

As for the gun homicide rate specifically, that’s dropped by nearly half since 1993 according to Pew’s data. Robert VerBruggen has a column well worth your time at NRO today detailing his state-by-state comparison of gun ownership rates and homicide rates. Logically, if the left is right that more guns in circulation necessarily means more violence, we should see more homicides in states where more people are armed. That’s not what we see, per VerBruggen. States are all over the statistical map. States where guns are more freely available do tend to see more suicides by shooting, but suicide typically doesn’t factor heavily into progressive rhetoric about gun-grabbing. It’s usually mass shootings they’re focused on, not the less sensational but far more prevalent problem of people successfully killing themselves because they had access to a gun instead of being forced into a less frequently lethal mode of suicide, like an intentional drug overdose. If Boxer wanted to make a point about reducing gun violence while avoiding the surreal spectacle of praising California’s laws not 24 hours after some degenerate went berserk in her state with at least two weapons that were legally purchased, she would have emphasized the threat of suicide, not homicide. Suicide can’t be as easily framed as a matter of crime and security, though, so we’re left having this stupid argument about whether ending the so-called gun-show loophole would thwart ISIS terrorists or whatever.