Data Tracker

How people use guns to kill in California

By Phillip Reese -

Handguns fill a display case at a Sacramento gun shop.
Handguns fill a display case at a Sacramento gun shop. Sacramento Bee file

The recent shootings in Charleston once again have sparked a conversation about gun violence in the United States, with President Obama calling for tougher gun-control measures and some conservatives pushing back by saying that guns make America safer and save lives.

Here are some facts and a chart about gun-related deaths in California between 2011 and 2013, based on the latest state health and crime data:

• In California, someone uses a gun to commit suicide or kill someone else, on average, about once every three hours.

• Most California gun deaths are suicides.

• Gun-related homicides, like other types of violent crime, have declined sharply over the last two decades.

• Accidental firearm deaths are uncommon - one occurs, on average, every 12 days.

• Private citizens rarely use guns to kill would-be criminals - the state sees about one justifiable homicide for every 50 gun-related murders.

• The number of guns sold in California rose from about 315,000 in 2004 to roughly 931,000 in 2014.

Sources: California Department of Public Health | California Department of Justice

Updated 6/25 to change number of justifiable homicides by private citizens from 65 to 75. Changed accidental deaths from once every 11 days to once every 12 days.