SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — New state figures show the rate of people killed with guns in California went up last year, reversing years of decline that began in 2008.
There were 1,368 gun-related homicides in 2016, up by about 200 from 2014, when such killings fell to a historic low, the California Department of Justice said.
That’s a 15 percent increase in the gun-related homicide rate, which adjusts for population changes.
The state figures show guns were used in 72 percent of California homicides last year, while the number of homicides using other weapons fell slightly from 2015 to 2016.
The spike in gun-related homicides reflects a national trend, and it comes as gun sales go up statewide and nationwide, the Sacramento Bee reported.
“Certainly since the Sandy Hook (school shooting in 2012), there has been a large number of gun sales, and I think that the fear that there may be some gun control that might restrict gun buying has hugely made a difference in gun sales,” said Jennie Singer, an associate professor in the division of criminal justice at California State University, Sacramento.
“The more guns that are simply available, physically on the streets and in the community, the more gun violence there will be,” she said.
Criminologists caution about reading too much into a few years of homicide increases, especially after decades of declines.
Some law enforcement officials say Proposition 47, which passed in 2014 and reduced many nonviolent property and drug crimes from felonies to misdemeanors, contributed to the rise.
(© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)