Despite California’s best efforts, gun violence continues to exceed pre-pandemic levels

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Good morning and welcome to the A.M. Alert!

DESPITE MANY GUN CONTROL EFFORTS, GUN VIOLENCE IS UP IN CALIFORNIA

As California legislative Republicans are quick to point out, the state has seen a marked increase in violent crime in recent years.

According to a report from the Public Policy Institute of California, violent crime in 2022 — the most recent available data — has increased by more than 26% since 2014, the first year that violent crime reversed its downward trend.

While homicides dropped by 6.1% in 2022, they are still up by more than 25% from pre-pandemic levels.

Meanwhile, the share of violent crimes involving a firearm remains higher than in 2019, before the pandemic began.

As Newsom pointed out recently, some areas of the state see more gun violence than others.

According to the PPIC, out of the state’s 15 most populous counties, Alameda and San Joaquin counties had the highest rates of violent crimes involving guns. Nearly 40% of all violent crimes in those counties involved a firearm. In San Diego and Orange counties, that rate was 14%.

In Alameda and San Joaquin counties, nine out of 10 homicides involved a firearm. In San Mateo County, just 38% did.

Almost half (48%) of all robberies in Alameda County involved a gun; that number was 15% in San Diego County.

In Sacramento County, relatively few violent crimes involve firearms (between 20% and 30%), but when it comes to homicides, around 80% of them involved a gun.

California has met with mixed results in curbing gun violence. Though Gov. Gavin Newsom and the Legislature have passed laws cracking down on ghost guns, restricting ammunition magazine sizes, and banning assault weapons — many of the state’s efforts have been blocked or overturned by federal Judge Roger Benitez.

The PPIC notes that while previous research has found no link between the rise in violent crime and recent criminal justice reforms, including Proposition 47 and Proposition 57, those studies don’t extend beyond 2016.

“Research aimed at determining whether those findings hold up today would be especially valuable but is made challenging by additional criminal justice reforms and the COVID-19 pandemic. The latter is especially important as most of the increases are post-2019,” the PPIC report authors wrote.

Despite the concerning rise in gun violence, Newsom’s team is quick to point out that California has a much lower gun violence rate than most other states, or the U.S. as a whole. The governor points to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which show that California has the seventh lowest gun death rate in the nation.

CALCHAMBER URGES A VETO ON SICK LEAVE BILL

The pandemic left many California workers reeling, unable to work yet unable to get time off from work to recover.

Cue the California Legislature, which this year passed a bill — SB 616, by Sen. Lena Gonzalez, D-Long Beach — to increase the number of mandatory paid sick days that employers must provide from three to five.

That bill is now on Newsom’s desk, and he has until Oct. 14 to sign or veto.

The California Chamber of Commerce added SB 616 to its “Job Killer” list of bills which the business organization vehemently opposes.

In a blog post last week, CalChamber argued that the bill “disproportionally affects small business, which are already struggling to keep their doors open and can’t afford the increased cost of additional paid sick leave days.”

The organization notes that businesses that are capable of offering more sick days for employees are doing so, but that “many other employers simply cannot absorb that cost.”

CalChamber also opposes a provision of the bill that prevents employers from requiring a doctor’s note for sick leave. Doctor’s visits can prove to be a major expense for struggling workers, but CalChamber contends that employers have found employees using sick time for non-sick-related purposes, for which there is nothing employers can do “because otherwise the employers face an alleged violation for interfering with or discouraging the use of leave.”

Gonzalez issued a statement in response to CalChamber’s call for a veto, saying that despite being the fifth largest economy in the world, California lags behind other states when it comes to sick leave.

“The California workforce has enabled our economy to thrive and it is beyond time to give them an opportunity to recover from illness and protect coworkers and customers,” Gonzalez said.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“I’m glad Gavin’s solved every one of the issues people voted him in to solve so he’s got spare time to hang out with a guy who’s only polling slightly better than a rotten banana.”

- TV writer Kashana Cauley, discussing Gov. Gavin Newsom’s planned debate with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, via Bluesky.

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