On July 21, California Gov. Gavin Newsom gave a press conference in which he attempted to bolster his image on crime heading into the home stretch of a hotly contested recall election. According to the California Attorney General’s office, homicides were up 31 percent in 2020 over 2019.
As is the habit of soft-on-violent-crime politicians, Newsom attempted to pin the blame for California’s homicide wave on inanimate objects. Describing the press conference in a headline, the Sacramento Bee reported, “‘We’re up against a gun epidemic.’ Gavin Newsom links rise in homicides to firearm sales.”
Newsom’s lazy assertion that the increase in gun sales in 2020 led to an increase in homicides wouldn’t normally be notable. However, this time Newsom’s baseless deflection is completely at odds with research authored by the Director of the Firearm Violence Research Center Garen Wintemute. The UC Davis-based center is California’s official state-funded anti-gun firearm factoid factory.
On July 5, the journal Injury Epidemiology published “Firearm purchasing and firearm violence during the coronavirus pandemic in the United States: a cross-sectional study.” As noted, the paper’s authors included Garen Wintemute along with a host of others associated with the taxpayer-funded center. Moreover, funding for the study was provided by the California Firearm Violence Research Center.
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The paper’s conclusion was clear: “Nationwide, firearm purchasing and firearm violence increased substantially during the first months of the coronavirus pandemic. At the state level, the magnitude of the increase in purchasing was not associated with the magnitude of the increase in firearm violence.”
The governor had previously touted the importance of the center’s work. On June 25 and October 11, 2019, Newsom boasted about advancing a budget that “secures long-term funding for the Firearm Violence Research Center at the University of California, Davis.”
The research center was established in 2016 with $5 million in tax revenue. The 2019 Newsom budget allocated another $3.85 million in taxpayer money to the gun control project.
Newsom’s July 21 comments expose the political purpose of the California Firearm Violence Research Center. Anti-gun lawmakers fund the project with the understanding that its “research” will provide a scientific and impartial veneer to their pre-existing policy agenda. On the rare occasion that the center’s research contraindicates the anti-gun lawmakers’ preferred policies, the taxpayer-funded work product is ignored and the gun control agenda is advanced anyway.
Heads they win, tails you lose.