Newsletter: Sending the lobbyists packing

News Date

We showed this month that the radical gun lobby no longer has the votes on the County Board of Supervisors to thwart common-sense gun safety reforms.

After a partisan block last year, last week we were able to secure three votes on the Board to approve common-sense proposals to advance gun safety and reduce firearm violence

The proposals had previously failed by a 2-2 vote, with Republican Supervisors Joel Anderson and Jim Desmond voting down the initiatives. (And they voted against us again last Tuesday)

This action follows many other critical policies and programs WE – with the support of your organizing, calls, and emails – have moved forward to fight gun violence:

  • Passed a landmark policy preventing the possession and distribution of illegal, unserialized ghost guns in San Diego County
  • Approved my ordinance requiring all guns to be secured with a trigger lock or in containers in homes, or structures near homes
  • Passed my policy to authorize the County to explore lawsuits against gun manufacturers

We Won’t Accept Silence on Gun Violence

I’m still surprised that this didn’t pass unanimously last year. I guess some people are more concerned about discussing the facts about gun violence than the gun violence itself. 

Here are the common-sense educational programs that were blocked in 2023, but we were able to get approved this time:

  • 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 
  • Develop an online hub to serve as a collaboration point for agencies and organizations working on gun violence reduction
  • Set up 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

A Plan for the Future

We also had enough votes to start enacting a new County of San Diego Gun Violence Reduction Work Plan, which includes 17 actions for the County to take to protect against and prevent firearm violence. A summary of the recommendations can be read here.

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. County 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, we’re requiring that an annual report on gun violence in San Diego County be prepared and shared publicly. 

The State of Gun Violence in San Diego County

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

The Gun Violence Reduction Community Needs Assessment Final Report contains recommendations outlining actions the County can take to reduce gun violence. Findings presented to the Board 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. 

Data from available sources helped describe gun violence across San Diego County, but it is important to acknowledge limitations of these data. Still, here are some sobering facts:

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%. 
  • From 2016-2020, there have been 1,367 firearm-related hospitalizations or 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%). 

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. Together, we are doing everything we can to keep San Diego safe.

In service,