LOS ANGELES — California Attorney General Rob Bonta today released the first-ever “Office of Gun Violence Prevention Data Report,” shedding further light on the impact of gun violence in California and the nation. The report provides a robust review of gun violence data in California and throughout the U.S. to help guide policy and strategy discussions related to reducing gun violence. The California Department of Justice’s Office of Gun Violence Prevention (OGVP) will also host a webinar event for the public to discuss the report and other efforts being led by the Office of Gun Violence Prevention on August 16, 2023 at 10 a.m. PST.
“Gun violence is America’s disease, and it’s infecting our communities and traumatizing our families. Protecting public safety and preventing further devastation from these tragedies is my top priority—both as California’s Chief Law Enforcement Officer and as a concerned father,” said Attorney General Rob Bonta. “That work begins with illuminating the complex problem before us. By increasing our understanding of this issue, the Office of Gun Violence Prevention’s report will aid our continued efforts to innovate bold and effective strategies, strengthen and defend our nation-leading gun-safety laws, and get illegal guns off the streets. Good data leads to good policy and effective programs that can save lives.”
“As a community based non-profit organization that has been providing healing, hope, and wrap around services for more than 30 years to people from communities where gun violence has been significant, we know the importance of the efforts to reduce gun violence,” said Thomas Vozzo CEO of Homeboy Industries. “We are proud of our work providing comprehensive services and purposeful jobs that help people transform their lives and create safer communities throughout Los Angeles. We thank California Attorney General Bonta for acknowledging this work and important connection.”
“The Office of Gun Violence Prevention Data Report underscores the need for targeted, place-based solutions to reducing gun violence and mitigating the distinct harms done to communities disproportionately impacted by violence,” said Fernando Rejón, Executive Director, Urban Peace Institute. “The Los Angeles neighborhoods Urban Peace Institute works in don’t have the same level of safety that other areas of the city experience—despite a citywide decrease, our communities continue to experience shootings and homicides inequitably. We know that community violence intervention works. Investment, research, and collaboration to expand the field are crucial steps towards a safer Los Angeles, and safer California. Everybody deserves safety.”
“GIFFORDS applauds the release of the first-ever ‘Office of Gun Violence Prevention Data Report,” said Paul Carrillo, Vice President of GIFFORDS Center for Violence Intervention. “This comprehensive report underscores the gravity of the issue we face—a public health crisis that continues to claim lives and shatter families. Gun violence demands a collective effort to find lasting solutions. California's achievements in reducing gun violence stand as a testament to the effectiveness of evidence-based strategies. Over the past three decades, our state has made remarkable progress, with firearm homicide rates now standing significantly below the national average. The lives saved through these efforts cannot be quantified merely in numbers; they are the daughters and sons who now have a chance at a brighter future. Yet, our journey is far from over. The report sheds light on disparities that persist, and it underscores the impact of external factors such as the pandemic and the trafficking of illegal firearms. We must address these challenges head-on, collaborating with partners across all levels of government and within our communities to break the cycle of violence. We look forward to continuing to work with Attorney General Bonta to fight gun violence in California.”
“Thanks to Attorney General Bonta and the California Office of Gun Violence Prevention, we have vastly expanded the breadth of knowledge of how this public health crisis is affecting the Golden State,” said Kris Brown, President of Brady. “Solving a problem as complex as gun violence requires nuanced solutions, and our approaches only stand to benefit from more data. This report, highlighting both successes and challenges, is a massive stride towards progress in this fight. Whether it be in cultural changes or legislative action, Brady is confident the changes initiated by this crucial analysis have the potential to save lives.”
Attorney General Bonta established the OGVP in September 2022. Its mission is to reduce and prevent gun violence, firearm injury, and related trauma. The OGVP supports DOJ’s ongoing gun violence reduction efforts by promoting research and data collection; increasing awareness about effective legal and policy strategies; and collaborating with federal, state, and local partners. Today’s report provides a compendium of research and data to help guide and shape these policy discussions.
California’s Successes in Reducing Gun Violence
The report highlights California’s successes in preventing gun violence, and through insightful data, it shines a light on successful strategies and further areas for improvements. For example, over the last 30 years, California has reduced its gun violence rate compared to the rest of the United States; once 50% above average, California’s firearm homicide rate is now 33% below the rest of the United States. Additionally, if the firearm mortality rate in the rest of the United States had matched California’s between 2013-2022, there would have been nearly 140,000 fewer firearm-related deaths nationwide in that decade alone.
California has made especially significant progress in reducing rates of youth gun homicide since 2006. Even after pandemic-era increases, California’s youth gun homicide rate in 2022 was 50% lower than it was in 2006. In contrast, the next two most populous states after California — Florida and Texas — experienced substantial increases in youth homicide rates between 2006 and 2022, rising by 23% in Florida and 48% in Texas.
Continued Challenges in Preventing Gun Violence
Despite California’s successful data-driven strategies, there remain areas for continued improvement to reduce gun violence. The report further outlines gun violence’s disparate impacts on various socioeconomic and local communities, and challenges that have impacted California’s efforts, including COVID-19, the trafficking of illegal or unregistered guns into the state, and an increase in community violence, domestic violence, and reported hate crimes involving firearms. OGVP’s analysis determined that in 2021, over half (50.4%) of the firearms recovered by law enforcement in California and successfully traced by ATF to a final dealer of record were traced to dealers located in other states.
In 2020, the United States experienced record increases in gun homicide rates. California was no exception. Following a year of near-record low gun homicide rates in 2019, the state, like the rest of the nation, experienced substantial increases in gun violence in 2020 and 2021. Nevertheless, California’s gun homicide rate for youth under 25 was 50% lower in 2022 than it was in 2006. In contrast, the rest of the United States experienced a 37% increase in youth gun homicide rates over the same period.
Positive Indicators in Response to the Rise of Ghost Guns
Statewide, in 2015, law enforcement officials reported recovering only 26 ghost guns in connection with criminal activity. By 2021, that number had grown to 12,388. In recent years, California public officials have acted to address this growing public safety threat, through enforcement actions, affirmative litigation, and legislation. These actions point to positive indicators of success, and from 2021 to 2022, California saw a 7% decrease in the overall number of unserialized firearms recovered as crime guns. Additionally, while the number of suspected ghost guns recovered as crime guns in California increased by 165% from 2020 to 2021, this number was reduced to a 4% increase from 2021 to 2022.
Additional Information and Data
The report, which can be found here, provides addition information and data on gun violence in California including:
Attorney General Bonta stands with partners throughout the state to continue tackling the issue of gun violence strategically and aggressively by: