Data Tracker

Two years after Sandy Hook shooting, California firearm purchase applications higher than ever

By Phillip Reese

The Sandy Hook shootings  that killed 20 children in Connecticut two years ago this month set off a flurry of gun purchase applications in California that still has not subsided.

On December 14, 2012, Adam Lanza opened fire in an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., killing 20 children and six adults and then himself. That attack followed a July shooting in which a gunman shot and killed 12 people and injured 58 more during a movie screening in Aurora, Colo.

Following those killings, state and federal legislators proposed a range of gun control measures. At the federal level, most of those proposals did not become law. But in California, already one of the toughest states in which to buy a gun, legislators approved several gun control bills.

At the same time, Californians flooded to gun stores. The FBI processed 1.36 million background checks following applications by Californians to purchase guns in 2013, up 20 percent from 2012 and double the number from 2006.

(Background checks do not always lead to gun purchases. The California Department of Justice publishes data on completed gun sales but they have not updated their tally with 2013 or 2014 figures.)

Through November, California is on pace to see nearly 1.5 million gun purchase applications in 2014, FBI data show.

This chart shows the number of background checks performed by the FBI for gun purchases in California during each month since 2000.

California firearm applications, '00-'14

Source: FBI

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