Gun-Controlled California County Becomes 'Wild, Wild West' (2024)

ByCam Edwards |3:31 PM | April 29, 2024

Gun-Controlled California County Becomes 'Wild, Wild West' (1)

While most U.S. cities saw a significant decline in their homicide rates last year, Oakland, California and surrounding Alameda County bucked that trend, and the high rates of violence are continuing in 2024. One of the issues that Alameda County officials are trying to get under control is the rampant of shootings that are happening on freeways, which have become so commonplace that one anti-violence activist is comparing the gun-controlled county to the "wild, wild West".


While encouraging signs abound elsewhere in the state, the scourge of freeway shootings remains persistent in the East Bay, where the problem in Alameda County appears to be just as bad, if not worse, than pandemic-era highs seen across the state a few years ago. The county had the same number of reported shootings — 217 — as the rest of the entire Golden Gate Division, covering the nine larger Bay Area counties, from 2021 to 2023, largely because shootings in Alameda County increased slightly over time, while the rest of the region saw reports of gunfire drop by more than half.

Alameda County has one-sixth the population of Los Angeles County, but has a freeway and highway shootings-per-capita rate five times higher since 2021, according to the data, which was provided by the California Highway Patrol to this newspaper in March. Last year, Alameda County surpassed L.A. for a first-place finish no one wants: 79 reported highway shootings, compared to 71 in L.A., a place known for being the capital of the nation’s car culture.

The East Bay “is the wild wild West right now — it’s full of guns, and the smallest inkling of a disagreement can result in a shooting,” said Glen Upshaw Sr., a violence interrupter with the Oakland-based nonprofit Youth Alive! “Ninety percent of the stories we hear are, ‘I don’t even know why he shot me.’”

How can Alameda County be "full of guns", given all of California's extensive gun controllaws like a ten-day waiting period, "universal" background checks on firearms and ammunition, one-gun-a-month, and bans on both so-called assault weapons and many models of semi-automatic handguns?

Oh, that's right. Criminals don't care about those laws any more than they care about the laws against aggravated assault or homicide. And why would they, given that the vast majority of time someone gets shot in Alameda County, the perpetrator gets away with the crime.

Authorities made arrests in just 13 of the 211 confirmed shootings that police investigated across the Bay Area in 2022 and 2023. That 6% arrest rate in those cases mirrored statewide trends, with CHP investigators finding meager success in solving freeway shooting cases, specifically in those two years.

“These shootings are notoriously hard to investigate,” said Michelle Rippy, a professor of criminal justice at California State University, East Bay. She specifically pointed to the fact that there are often fewer witnesses to freeway shootings; by their very nature, such incidents mean suspects and victims leave the scene almost instantly.

“What’s happening is we’re seeing these community gun violence issues also being dredged onto the highway,” Rippy added. “We almost need to turn to look at our community violence from a public health lens,” she said, emphasizing that freeway shootings are part of a larger issue of gun violence.


The San Jose Mercury Newsarticle never once mentions California's gun control laws, much less their ineffectiveness at stemming the shootings on the freeways. I suppose that shouldn't come as a surprise. After all, if they start to question why none of these policies are having an impact on violent offenders, their readers might be left with the impression that the state's gun control regime isn't all that it's cracked up to be, and I doubt that's the takeaway the paper's editors are hoping for.

Gavin Newsom has tried to throw resources at the problem, sending California Highway Patrol officers to Alameda County to provide more cops on the street, but what Alameda County (and California more generally) really needs is a targeted approach that focuses on the most violent and prolific offenders instead of trying to smother the Second Amendment under a blanket of gun control laws. That would almost certainly help bring the arrest rate for shootings in the area into the double digits, while leaving beleaguered residents with the ability to exercise their right to armed self-defense.

Of course, Newsom isn't going to do anything like that. He's still trying to get states to join his call for a gun control Constitutional amendment, while the Alameda County Sheriff's Office notes that obtaining a carry license is "a long, tedious, and meticulous process" for residents. The violent criminals who are turning the county into the wild, wild, West don't have to worry about jumping through any of the hoops the state has put in place. They can continue to break the law with near impunity. As is usually the case in California, it's the lawful citizens who are paying the price for the state's gun control regime, while criminals are quite literally getting away with murder.


Gun-Controlled California County Becomes 'Wild, Wild West' (2)

Cam Edwards has covered the 2nd Amendment for 20 years as a broadcast and online journalist, as well as serving on the board of directors for the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms. He lives outside of Farmville, Virginia with his family, three dogs, two barn cats, a flock of chickens, and an undisclosed number of firearms for their protection.

Read more by Cam Edwards

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Gun-Controlled California County Becomes 'Wild, Wild West' (2024)
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