Majority of CA voters believe gun control stops crime, UC Berkeley poll finds

Infographic depicting Californians' support for gun control laws by political party
Mai Chiamthamachinda/Staff

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In light of increasing crime rates across the United States, 56% of California voters believe that restricting the sale and possession of guns can reduce crime in their community, according to a UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies, or IGS, poll published Thursday.

The survey found that 57% of voters think gun control is more important than upholding the Second Amendment, while 56% view California’s 32-year ban on assault weapons as constitutional.

In June, a federal judge declared the ban unconstitutional, according to a previous article from The Daily Californian.

This decision was later blocked by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, according to court documents.

Mark DiCamillo, director of the Berkeley IGS Poll, noted that current support for gun control in California has slightly decreased when compared to results found in 2018, with the largest shifts happening among voters registered as Democrat or independent.

“Whenever you see changes from one poll to the next, you kind of look for cues of why that might be in the larger environment,” DiCamillo said.

Nationally, there has been an increase in the number of violent crimes during the COVID-19 pandemic, something that could have caused voters to change their views on guns and gun violence, DiCamillo added.

According to data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation from 1986 to 2019, violent felonies peaked in 1991 with 758.2 incidents being reported per 100,000 people. Since then, the number has declined, with less than 400 in 2019.

For elected officials, including New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and U.S. President Joe Biden, however, the recent rise of violent crimes has been met with alarm.

Biden and Attorney General Merrick Garland announced a four-pronged approach in June based on investments in community-led programs, data monitoring, strategic policing and “fostering trust” as a way of decreasing crime nationwide.

On July 6, Cuomo declared a state of emergency in New York as a result of gun violence, committing $138.7 million in summer jobs for at-risk youth and supporting gun violence prevention efforts, among other things, according to a press release from Cuomo’s office.

Policies are also being used to address crime in California as seen in SB 129, the budget act approved by Gov. Gavin Newsom in July, a press release from Newsom’s office notes.

According to the press release, by investing more than $10 billion in “homeless and housing services” and $4 billion in universal mental health support for young people, the state can help prevent crimes from happening.

The press release also outlines other strategies being implemented, including the improvement of community policing and a $10.3 million investment in programs geared toward addressing gun violence.

“Among the most basic needs for all Californians is to feel safe at home, at the park, or walking to school,” the press release reads. “Governor Newsom believes we must invest in public safety while, at the same time, tackling the root causes of these increases.

Contact Tristan Shaughnessy at [email protected], and follow him on Twitter at @TristanShaughn2.