After Partisan Block, County Supervisors Approve Gun Violence Reduction Work Plan

News Date

Today the County Board of Supervisors approved commonsense proposals to advance gun safety championed by Board of Supervisors Vice Chair Terra Lawson-Remer. The proposals had previously failed by a 2-2 vote, with Democrats Lawson-Remer and Chairwoman Nora Vargas in support while Republicans Joel Anderson and Jim Desmond voted down the initiatives. Today’s vote included Supervisor Monica Montgomery Steppe who was seated in late 2023 to fill the Board’s vacant fifth seat, and voted in support of the item in today’s 3-2 vote.

Supervisors Anderson and Desmond today refused to support basic common sense gun safety items, such as: 

  • Monitor state and federal actions to improve safe gun ownership and support gun violence reduction efforts in communities most impacted by violence
  • Establish and coordinate a Gun Violence Reduction Advisory Group to oversee implementation of the Work Plan and to propose future gun violence reduction activities
  • Coordinate networking events, roundtables, and other educational events for community stakeholders and government agencies working to reduce gun violence
  • Create and host a digital platform to serve as a centralized communication and collaboration point for agencies and organizations working on gun violence Primary All Community
  • Engagement & Collaboration #2b TBD PSG The Public Safety Group will develop an online hub to serve as a collaboration point for agencies and organizations working on gun violence reduction ATTACHMENT B 13 prevention, intervention, and aftercare (recovery) in San Diego County
  • Establish an ongoing structure for gun violence reduction work at the County
  • Establish a performance measurement and evaluation framework for efforts implemented to reduce gun violence
  • Share local aggregate data on gun violence in the county with stakeholders and the general public 
  • Coordinate town halls/listening sessions to evaluate residents’ perception of success

“The residents of San Diego County support common sense gun safety reforms, and today the radical gun lobby saw they no longer have the votes on the board to thwart these efforts,” said Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer, Vice Chair of the Board of Supervisors.  “Educating gun owners about safe gun storage, and parents about how to have difficult conversations with other parents about what gun storage looks like in their homes, will save lives.”

The vote comes days after a Rancho Bernardo teen threatened to commit a shooting at Rancho Bernardo High School, and his father was arrested for allegedly having an “arsenal of weapons” that were accessible to his children. The tied vote on the Board of Supervisors that prevented this item from being approved on July 18, 2023, came on the same day a one-year-old was tragically killed by her three-year-old sibling who accessed an unsecured firearm. 

This action follows many other critical policies and programs Supervisor Lawson-Remer has moved forward to fight gun violence. She passed a landmark policy preventing the possession and distribution of illegal, unserialized ghost guns in San Diego County. In addition, the Board approved her ordinance requiring all guns to be secured with a trigger lock or in containers in homes, or structures near homes. She also passed a policy to authorize the County to explore lawsuits against gun manufacturers. 

The Board voted today to receive the Gun Violence Reduction Work Plan, which includes 17 actions for the County to take to protect against and prevent firearm violence. The Board also approved a staff position to coordinate gun violence reduction activities, and authorized the submission of grant applications and the procurement of contracted services that support violence prevention and intervention programs and services. Staff will return in early 2025 with an initial update on actions to implement the Work Plan.

To transparently monitor the effectiveness of the program, the Board directed that an annual report be prepared on gun violence in San Diego County. 

The Gun Violence Reduction Community Needs Assessment Final Report contains recommendations outlining actions the County can take to reduce gun violence. Recommendations include opportunities to enhance or expand upon existing efforts in San Diego County as well as explore new areas of focus or investment. The recommendations are organized into four key strategic areas: Awareness and Advocacy; Community Engagement and Collaboration; Community Healing and Trauma-Informed Practice; and Planning and Evaluation. A summary of the recommendations can be read here.

The Final Report provides an overview of gun violence in San Diego County and outlines possible solutions to prevent violence and mitigate impacts. The findings highlight that while gun violence impacts people of all ages, genders, and racial/ethnic backgrounds in all regions of the county, gun violence does not impact people equally. 

Results from the assessment indicate that everyone has a role to play in the prevention of gun violence; that addressing systemic and historic inequities is central to reducing gun violence; and that prevention and intervention strategies should be tailored to specific populations. 

Community engagement was at the center of the needs assessment project. A Gun Violence Reduction Advisory Group was formed to provide input and feedback related to the development and implementation of the community needs assessment. Health Assessment & Research for Communities, Inc., (HARC), the consultant hired by the County, selected Advisory Group members who represent diverse backgrounds, experiences, and expertise after an open application period. In addition to collaborating with the Gun Violence Reduction Advisory Group, HARC hosted nine listening sessions and three community forums to allow residents to share their thoughts, experiences, and perspectives about gun violence as well as to provide feedback regarding preliminary findings from the assessment

San Diego County gun violence statistics:

  • From 2017-2022, there have been 1,310 firearm-related deaths in San Diego County – 70.9% were suicide and 28.9% homicide. 
  • Local data shows that, during the five-year period from 2017-2021, the homicide rate by firearm in San Diego County increased 56.3%, while the suicide rate decreased 18.0%. 
  • The San Diego County firearm-related death rate of 6.6 per 100,000 residents remains below the State of California rate of 8.0. 
  • The San Diego County firearm-related homicide rate of 1.9 per 100,000 residents was half the State of California rate of 3.8. 
  • The San Diego County suicide rate of 4.7 per 100,000 residents was higher than the State of California rate of 4.0 per 100,000 residents.
  • The most common manner of suicide death in San Diego County from 2017-2021 was by firearm, followed by asphyxia (hanging/suffocation), and drug – medication. Additionally,
  • the most common manner of homicide in San Diego County from 2017-2021 was by firearm, followed by cutting/stabbing, and blunt force. 
  • From 2016-2020, there have been 1,367 firearm-related hospitalizations or emergency department visits. 
  • About half of firearm-related injuries were treated by hospitalization and half by emergency department visits. 
  • Data showed that, over time, the hospitalization rate for firearm-related injuries has increased 19.0% and emergency department visits have increased 4.5%. 

Some populations are disproportionately impacted by firearm-related deaths:

  • Males have a firearm-related death rate that is 15 times greater than that of females.  
  • The firearm-related homicide rate is highest among Black residents at 9.9 per 100,000 residents. This is 11.0 times greater than the rate for Asian residents (0.9 per 100,000 residents), which is the lowest rate. 
  • The firearm-related suicide rate is highest among White residents at 8.2 per 100,000 residents. This is 6.8 times greater than the rate for Asian residents (1.2 per 100,000 residents), which is the lowest rate.  
  • Firearm-related homicide rates are highest among people ages 25-44.  
  • Firearm-related suicide rates are highest among people ages 65 and older.
  • Demographic trends are similar for firearm-related injuries, with young Black and Hispanic males having the highest rates of hospitalization and emergency department visits. 
  • The age for hospitalization and emergency department visits also trends younger with rates highest among those ages 15-24. 

Crime statistics on firearms:

  • From 2017-2021, the rate of firearm-related arrests (often for alleged assaults or robbery) increased 64.0% in San Diego County. Most arrests were for felonies (94.8%). 
  • The average firearm-related crime rates for suspects are highest among Black and male residents. 
  • The average firearm-related crime rates for victims are highest among male residents who identify as “other” race, followed by Black. 

Data from available sources helped describe gun violence across San Diego County, but it is important to acknowledge limitations of these data.