Press Release

Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords Commends California Leaders for Enacting Strong Gun Safety Reforms, Renewing their Commitment as National Leaders 

October 11, 2019 Giffords, the gun violence prevention group led by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, praised California Governor Gavin Newsom for signing into law a comprehensive package of gun safety reforms. The bills include policies such as strengthening and expanding the implementation of California’s extreme risk law, helping prevent mass shootings and firearm suicide, curbing gun trafficking, stopping the proliferation of ghost guns, protecting victims of domestic violence, and strengthening California’s investment in community-based violence intervention initiatives.

Statement from former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, co-founder of Giffords

“California continues to be a leader in fighting the threat of gun violence. The legislative package Governor Newsom signed today will help make California safer for all who call it home, and it shows the nation what committed, active, and thoughtful leadership on gun safety looks like. Giffords is proud to have played a strong role in helping craft this package and to have partnered with Governor Newsom, the Legislature’s gun violence working group, and so many other courageous leaders in California to push these bills to become law.”

The package of bills signed by Governor Newsom included multiple priority bills for Giffords, including The Break the Cycle of Violence Act (AB 1603), which codifies the California Violence Intervention and Prevention (“CalVIP”) grant program into law, and ensures that California’s new investment in violence intervention efforts are used to fund the most effective programs in communities with the greatest need.  Earlier this year, Congresswoman Giffords visited California’s Capitol to urge Governor Newsom and legislative leaders to significantly strengthen California’s investment in violence intervention initiatives like CalVIP, and in June, the Governor signed a Budget Act that more than tripled funding for these programs.

A recent report by Giffords Law Center, A Case Study in Hope: Lessons From Oakland’s Remarkable Reduction in Gun Violence, documented how Oakland launched a successful citywide gun violence reduction initiative, with significant funding and assistance through the CalVIP program. Since 2012, Oakland has cut its annual shootings and homicides nearly in half. Giffords is committed to working to sustain, expand, and replicate Oakland’s success in other cities across the state and nation.

Governor Newsom also signed into law important new legislation to regulate ghost gun sellers (AB 879), limit bulk purchases of firearms (SB 61), support effective utilization of the Gun Violence Restraining Order to prevent suicides and mass shootings (AB 339 and AB 61), prevent people subject to out-of-state domestic violence restraining orders and extreme risk orders from acquiring guns in California (AB 164), regulate unlicensed firearm dealers and manufacturers (SB 376), and strengthen efforts to prevent firearm suicide (AB 521 and AB 645).

California has comprehensively strengthened its gun safety laws over the past generation, and Giffords Law Center’s 2018 Gun Law Scorecard ranked California’s gun safety laws as the strongest in the nation.  This legislative activity has helped transform public health and safety in California: in 1993, California had the 3rd highest rate of gun homicides and 16th highest rate of gun deaths among the 50 states; by 2017, it had the 23rd lowest rate of gun homicides and 7th lowest rate of gun deaths overall.  Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed that in 2017:

  • Children 12 and under were, on average, nearly 3 times more likely to be the victim of gun homicide in the rest of the nation compared to California

  • California’s firearm suicide rate is around half the national average

  • California’s firearm homicide rate is about 20% below the rest of the nation

  • California’s rate of fatal gun accidents is 40% below the national average.

But there is still much more work to be done.  In 2017, California lost over 2,000 people to homicide, and more than 70% of them were killed with a firearm.  Violence in the state is concentrated geographically, with more than half of all homicides occurring in just 12 of California’s 460+ municipalities. As in many other states, gun violence in California also has an enormously disparate impact on people of color. Black men aged 18–24 are over 18 times more likely than white men the same age to be murdered with a gun in California.