Newsom’s Gun Gaff

“California has the toughest gun safety laws in the nation.”
—Gavin Newsom

Problem is, it has made no difference.


  • California’s suicide rate is low due to demographics.
  • California’s gun homicide rate is slightly below average and tied with states with nearly no gun laws.
  • Gun laws and gun homicide rates do not correlate at all, denuding claims about “toughest gun safety laws.”

The suicide slide

Means California USA Average Diff
All means 11.2 14.5 -3.3
Cut/Pierce 0.4 0.3 0.4
Drowning 0.2 0.2 0.1
Fall 0.5 0.5 0.0
Firearm 4.0 8.9 -0.5
Other land trans-port 0.1 0.1 0.0
Other specified 0.4 0.3 0.4
Other 0.1 0.1 0.0
Poisoning 1.6 2.1 -0.3
Suffocation 3.9 4.7 -0.2

Firearm Suicides by age, sex, race and metro status - 2016

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Firearm Homicide and Suicide Ratio 1999 thru 2020

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Rank State Rate
26 Arizona 3.9
27 Nevada 3.8
28 Kansas 3.4
29 California 3.2
30 Colorado 2.8
31 Wisconsin 2.6
32 Montana 2.2

Firearm Homicide Rate (deaths per 100K population) 2019

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Firearm Homicides Rates and Giffords State Law Strength Rating

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California has a lack of old, rural, white men which is a prime demographic for gun suicides.

That said, California has a lower than average suicide rate via poisoning and suffocation as well.

The short of it is that California has a lower overall suicide rate than the country as a whole (11.2 people per 100,000 population for California, 14.5 for the nation in 2019, which is our pre-pandemic reference year throughout unless stated otherwise).

Guns are a popular means of suicide, but not universal. And their use in suicides is associated with race, age and how rural the victim is.

Rural white men account for the bulk of firearm suicides nationally. So it is little surprise that with California being #43 on the list of states as a percentage of the population that are white, the firearm suicide rate would fall simply by demographic correlations. Consider also that California ranks #45 on the list of states with people age 65+, and has several major urban centers (four urban counties make up 40% of California’s population, those being Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, and Sacramento).

All this background data is important is because suicides make up about 60% of “gun deaths” year-in and year-out. Hence, when Gavin Newsom talks about California’s low “gun death” rate, the major portion of that is driven by the State of Disaster having a dearth of old, white, rural men.

The homicide ho-hum

If California’s gun laws, as Gavin Newsom incorrectly claims, caused a lower “gun death” rate, contrasting Cali with other states would show the divide.

It shows the opposite.

We already learned how demographics lowers California’s gun suicide rates, so that leaves homicides (nationally, gun accident fatalities have been falling faster than pants at a San Francisco bath house, so we can ignore those for now). That leaves homicides, and in this respect:

  • California is unremarkable.
  • California is basically tied with states with “lax” gun control laws.

All of which exposes a not-so-clever con job by an activist group with which we suspect Newsom maintains ties.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, California ranks #29 in terms of gun homicides. But they are basically tied with Colorado and Kansas, who have relatively little gun control laws. For example, Colorado is a shall-issue concealed carry state with no purchase permitting or registration. Kansas is a permitless carry state that doesn’t restrict National Firearms Act (NFA) controlled weapons (machine guns, short-barreled rifles and shotguns, heavy weapons, explosive ordnance, silencers, etc.) as Colorado does.

Yet all three have about the same gun homicide rates.

The situation for California is even more mundane when you remove some radical outliers from the comparison.

Washington, DC remains America’s murder capital. It has always been an outlier. Lower by 32%, but still very high, is Mississippi, and closely trailing them is Louisiana. If you remove just DC from the comparison (its unique form of government and high rate of urbanization being distinct variables), then the California/Kansas/Colorado gun homicide rate slims to 4.7:3.1. But that pales in comparison to Iowa and Utah (1.6 gun homicides per 100K) who basically have no gun control laws worth mentioning.

An intelligent person, which appears to not include Gavin Newsom, would rapidly conclude that “the toughest gun safety laws in the nation” are not a determinate variable.

And a gun control group proves this case.

The Giffords grift

One activist group (Giffords Law Center, based in Newsom’s San Francisco) annually has published a “state law scorecard” in which they “graded state gun laws, revealing an undeniable correlation between strong laws and low gun death rates.”

However, it oddly has no correlation to gun homicides (for the number nuts, its R2 measure of 0.04 basically means no correlation whatsoever).

The Giffords ranking system, like its predecessor the Brady Campaign Scorecard, appears on the surface to be a gun control wish list and not any sort of sufficient academic review of the efficacy of gun control laws.

It is concerning then that Giffords claims “revealing an undeniable correlation between strong laws and low gun death rates” when it demonstrably does not [emphasis ours]. Even worse was Giffords’s curious omission of Washington, DC from their rankings. For a region that has the highest gun homicide rate in the country, and until recently banned private ownership of handguns, this is a rather stunning oversight.

Newsom’s numbness

We don‘t expect politicians to know everything. We don’t even expect them to be smart, due to circumstantial evidence.

But Gavin Newsom’s ipso facto fallacy concerning California’s gun laws and “gun death rates” leads to at least two possibilities: he doesn’t know what he is talking about or he is a con man.

[GUN FACTS FOUNDER’S INPUT: I spent 22 years in the San Francisco Bay area during Gavin Newsom’s political ascension. He has two talents, being smug and propagandizing. He exercises both on this topic.]

This article first appeared on Gun Facts. Please make a donation directly to them at

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