Firearms in Santa Clara County: A workshop

A look at some numbers on guns in Santa Clara County

On the eve of a workshop on how to address firearms in Santa Clara County, the county public health department released a raft of gun statistics that are intended to help inform the discussion at the county fairgrounds on Saturday, April 28, 2018.

Unfortunately, the numbers provided mostly offer only limited insight because they measure only county firearm stats, leaving no basis for determining how the county’s firearms numbers compare with surrounding counties, the state as a whole and the nation.

But there are a couple of charts that offer some worthwhile broader perspective, and so I’ll focus primarily on those in this post:

  • Growth of gun sales among California’s larger counties from 2001 to 2015.
  • Average gun sales per 100,000 people by county from 2001-2015.


Digging deeper

But even though these numbers still fail to answer some basic questions, they do contain some interesting data, and the timing in the wake of the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School shooting and other tragedies. The observations that jumped out at me:

  • Among the 13 largest counties by population, Santa Clara gun sales grew 156 percent from 2001-2015, ninth highest. Almost 364,000 guns were sold in Santa Clara during that period, or about 24,000 a year. In Sacramento County, by contrast, sales quadrupled. San Francisco saw sales rise 58 percent. And Alameda, home of supposedly scary ol’ Oakland, sales jumped just 68 percent. (It’s possible that the gun sales in Alameda and San Francisco are perhaps surprising low because their citizens are already armed to the teeth and happy with their arsenals. It’s also possible folks there just aren’t all that interested in guns.)
  • Santa Clara County had the 13th lowest rate of gun sales growth (1,337 per 100,000 people) among the state’s 58 counties. The highest rates were in rural counties, lead by Shasta, with a sales rate of 6,460 per 100,000 people. Long gun sales are especially popular in Shasta, while in Sacramento handguns sell like hotcakes.
Deaths, injuries and guns in Santa Clara County

Other stats released by the Santa Clara County Public Health Department in advance of the summit workshop look at the county’s deaths related to firearms, hospitalization rates for firearms injuries and emergency room visits for gunshots in the decade from 2007-16.

  •  The death rate ranged from a low of 3.4 per 100,000 in 2010 to 4.8 the next year but mostly hovered near 4.4 or 4.5 with no discernable trend up or down.  The data sheet the county handed out didn’t say it, but Iooked it up: California’s gun death rate has typically been usually north of 7 per 100,000 during the past decade, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Almost 60 percent of gun-related deaths in Santa Clara County during the decade were the result of self-inflicted gunshots or suicide.

Saturday’s workshop is hosted by County Supervisor Dave Cortese. The DA’s office, the American Leadership Forum, and other partners will be there. Attendance and parking are free. Box lunch included.

Details: County of Santa Clara Community Summit on Firearms and Safety from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 28, at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds located at 344 Tully Road in San Jose.

Volunteers sign up here.





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