Gun control is one of the most contentious debates in politics. And while California has some of the strictest gun laws in the country, it hasn't stopped residents in Sacramento County from buying guns at an unprecedented rate, data released Wednesday by the California Department of Justice show.
According to the recent DOJ report, the county had a 406 percent increase in gun sales from 2001 to 2015. Although Sacramento isn't the only county to have a surge in sales, it did have a larger jump than any other urban county in the state.
Joe Deaser, owner of Capitol Gun Club in Roseville, believes the reason for the uptick is two-fold. While crime does play a role in the sales numbers, he said politics serves as the biggest factor.
"People are getting guns because they don't know if they'll be able to buy them later," Deaser said.
He added that the current administration, and California legislature, are making laws aimed at limiting the type of guns bought, rather than focusing on who should buy them.
DOJ data showed over 700,000 guns were sold in Sacramento County in the last 15 years, with hand guns accounting for 67 percent of sales and long guns (shotguns, rifles, etc.) making up the remaining 33 percent. According to the data, the jump started around 2008, the start of the Obama administration.
Deaser does believe that one of California's gun-related laws works, though: background checks.
In a 2013 op-ed for The Hill, Dreaser wrote that "no law-abiding gun owner should oppose background checks." What needs to be added, he told ABC10, are classes that teach new gun owners how to use guns.
"What scares me about the gun sales is the people who don't know how to use the guns they buy," Deaser said. "I'm more afraid of people who don't know how to use guns than I am of criminals who have them. Those people end up hurting themselves or others."
Like gun sales, Sacramento County has also seen a rise in concealed weapons permits, or CCW's. Since August 2011, the number of CCW's has soared from 887 to just shy of 7,500 at the start of 2016, according to data from the Sacramento County Sheriff's Office.
Although there's no direct correlation between the gun sale increases and the CCW permit increases, Deaser believes both are factors of people's fear in both gun control and crime.
"[The rise in] crime is a small part, but politics makes up the majority of the gun sales," Deaser said. "People are afraid."
Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones, after being elected in 2010, reversed a department policy that controlled the number of permits granted in attempts to help ease that fear.
Speaking to ABC10 this past February, the Republican congressional candidate said, "People face the same dangers that I do. They have the same desire to protect themselves and their family."
Jones added, "The flavor of the country has changed over the last year of two, and it is not so much about being a victim of a mugging or getting money out of the ATM."
While the number of violent crimes increased last year both statewide and in Sacramento, the rates are lower than they were a decade ago. In 2005, Sacramento County saw over 5,200 violent crimes, according to DOJ data. Ten years later, in 2014, the number dropped drastically to less that 3,000 violent crimes.
Deaser believes the reason for the decrease in crime rate over the years is because of the increase of gun sales.
"If you look at the number of guns bought over the years that crime has dropped," Dreaser said, "I'm not saying it's the only corollary, but people buying guns is a big part of it."
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