Monday, April 11, 2022






        Pronouncements from politicians and others came almost instantly after six persons died and 12 more were wounded by gunfire as patrons poured out of downtown Sacramento bars and clubs at the 2 a.m. closing time April 3.


        “Enough is enough,” said Democratic U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who got her biggest career boost when she inherited the San Francisco mayor’s office after then-Supervisor Dan White murdered both Mayor George Moscone and fellow Supervisor Harvey Milk in 1978. “We can no longer ignore gun violence in our communities. Congress knows what steps must be taken.”


        Appointed state Attorney General Rob Bonta, frantically running for election in his own right, said his office “continues our work to get illegal guns off the street.”


        Those words came before police captured several suspects, including one seen with a home-modified automatic pistol at the scene barely a month after he won early parole over the objections of Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert. One of her deputies predicted to state parole officials that if released early, current suspect Smiley Allen Martin would do more violence. Martin, apparently a pimp before he went to prison, had been serving a 10-year sentence for beating and whipping a prostitute, the offense euphemistically labeled “domestic violence.”


      Meanwhile, at this writing no one had been caught in the shootings of two men on a San Francisco playground less than 14 hours after the Sacramento massacre.


        As futile as the politicians’ words appeared, they were matched by those of Sam Paredes, head of the group Gun Owners of California, who said officials' “knee jerk reaction is to go after guns,” when the real issues driving mass shootings may be mental, economic or medical.


        The talk obscured a key fact made clearly in a brand-new study from Stanford University researchers published in the peer-reviewed journal Annals of Internal Medicine the day after all the unjustifiable deaths:


As bad as mass shootings are, far more innocents are killed by home-based weapons, legal or not. Mass shootings account for only 1 percent of all gun-related deaths in America.


The Stanford study establishes that Californians living with handgun owners, whether the weapons are legal or not, are more than twice as likely to die by homicide than if they lived in gun-free homes.


Said the lead researcher, “Despite widespread perceptions that a gun in the home provides security…people who live in homes with guns are at higher – not lower – risk of dying by homicide.”


Related here: The Feb. 28 shootings, also in Sacramento, where a father killed himself and his three daughters in a church, despite a restraining order prohibiting him from possessing any firearm.


Plus, mass killings often involve guns taken from homes by residents there who did not own the weapons.


While the Stanford study focused on victims rather than perpetrators, events have long suggested guns in homes increase the chance of persons becoming mass shooters.


        This knowledge should impel authorities toward more thorough enforcement of existing gun controls, both involving legal purchases and self-built “ghost guns” that lack identifying serial numbers.


        The Stanford study also implies authorities should be able to check whether legally-owned guns are stored securely, unloaded and away from unauthorized users. A way to enable this might be for gun shop buyers to sign waivers allowing police to check how guns are stored in their homes and make unsafely stored weapons subject to confiscation.


        For sure, law enforcement lacks time and manpower to check on every gun owner, especially not those with ghost guns, but even spot checks could inspire many owners to keep their firearms safe and away from anyone likely to hurt themselves or someone else.


This would not totally prevent massacres like the downtown Sacramento massacre, apparently done with illegal guns. But it would help prevent disturbed teenagers who sometimes become mass shooters from gaining easy access to guns and ammunition.


        This is just one compromise idea that would allow continued gun ownership, but also make life safer for those who live in homes with guns and the many who can become victims of people who live with gun owners.



     Email Thomas Elias at His book, "The Burzynski Breakthrough: The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government’s Campaign to Squelch It," is now available in a soft cover fourth edition. For more Elias columns, go to

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