Understand­ing California’s Crime Collapse

Violent crime in California, 1984 through 2011

Some gun control groups claim that California’s drop in violent crime since the early 1990s is due to gun control. But a causal review of California gun-related legislation shows that when violent crime started falling in the Golden State, there was no significant gun control legislation. If not gun control, what then explains the drop in violent crime in general, and firearm crimes in particular starting around 1993. My preliminary research indicates it is traceable to California’s Three Strikes law and the firearm penalty enhancements passed in that same year. But it is worth digging into the data to see if we can understand why. Up to 1993, violent crime in California was significantly higher than the rest of the country. Like most other places, robbery was a leading cause of violent crime. In fact, in the pivot year, robbery accounted for 38% of all violent crime. The rate of robbery as a subset of … Continue reading