County says data shows gun policies work

News Date

Article by Alexander Nyugen. Click here to read this article on the KPBS website.

San Diego County released its first gun violence annual report Tuesday, showing that gun homicides and ghost gun seizures are down compared to last year.

"It's really part of kind of a broader data-driven, policy-making effort at this county,” Board of Supervisors Vice Chair Terra Lawson-Remer said.

On January, 2022, the Board approved an update to the county’s Code of Regulatory Ordinances to ban unserialized guns, better known as ghost guns, and to require safe storage of firearms when not in use.

The report Tuesday was meant to confirm whether the county's "aggressive" gun policies work and where there could be improvements. So far, the data released by the county seems promising.

"The sheriff's gun violence prevention pilot program, getting guns out of the hands of folks who legally can't own them, is showing progress,” Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said.

According to the data, gun homicides decreased by 17% last year, and the number of ghost guns seized decreased by 29% from the previous year. That's a marked difference from 2021, when 264 ghost guns were confiscated — a 110% increase from 2020.

“We know that there are guns in our communities that shouldn't be there, that we know that people who are unstable or would not otherwise qualify to be able to safely purchase a firearm are being able to access these guns," Lawson-Remer said. "And so we are doing everything we can to take on the ghost gun manufacturers who are profiting off of the death and the misery that they're imposing on our communities."

But the report also shows that gun deaths by suicide increased by 3.5%. Deaths by suicide continue to be the primary cause of gun-related deaths in the county. Fletcher said it shows that the county has more work to do on the mental health front, but he stressed that the prevalence of ghost guns is what is driving these deaths.

"And so all the work we're doing around mental health is going to continue, but we also want to make sure that we are ensuring there's proper background checks, there's proper screening that individuals who shouldn't have that firearm don't," he said.

Last June, the county voted to look at options to sue gun manufacturers for deaths caused by their firearms. Lawson-Remer said the county is still moving forward with that and she expects to see some progress in the coming months.