Analyzing gun violence and its effect on young people in Oakland

Data shows the overall number of reported shootings in Oakland, CA rising in recent years, from 869 in 2009 to more than 1,200 in 2011, the highest since 2003; homicide totals in Oakland follow the same curve. At Oakland North, a post that breaks down shooting data for this Bay Area city to try and understand why the numbers keep rising.


  1. What? You mean little kids who aren’t white get killed by guns too??


    I’ve felt terrible these past few days, but I’ve also thought more than once about the Missing White Girl Syndrome.

    1. The “How can this happen here?” narrative has been infuriating to listen to. You know, because it’s supposed to happen to poor brown folks out of sight and out of mind, and miles from your doorstep. Having said that it’s still an ‘apples and oranges’ thing. There’s a reason this massacre of so many little children is exceptional and different from inner city gun violence, but yeah, it’s hard not to hear that narrative and shake your head.

      1. Once I asked my Nancy Grace-watching mother if any black women over thirty were killed in the US, as only white 20-somethings received mention in the channels she watched, which in my view completely distorted her perception of reality.  She wasn’t being presented with real news, her fears were being catered to.  She thought for a moment, smiled and said “That’s right”.  She got it.
        Then the following night, the habits took over again, but at least she triangulated for a night, and anyway who am I to judge her, as here I am, BB is my Nancy Grace.
        BB alarms me, reminds me every day that we live in a world chock full of sociopaths and ignoranimuses in positions of power.

        Anyway, whenever a “controversial” topic is posted on BB, I rely on Steve Martin as The Jerk making an appearance or three.  Cheers.

  2. While tragic, it’s interesting that the demographics of  youth with gunshot wounds correlate with the likelihood of being involved in street gangs and drugs.  It’s the innocent victims that upset us the most (and rightly so), but the numbers tell a different story.

    One factor commonly ignored is cocaine use.  Statistically, 30-50% of murder victims test positive for cocaine (see and earlier studies in NYC showing +50% for male victims).

    Why such a strong correlation between coke and being murdered?

    1. Why such a strong correlation between coke and being murdered?

      Probably the same reason that there was a strong correlation between alcohol and murder from 1920 to 1933.

      1. Well, also because people who are coked up don’t necessarily make great decisions regarding personal safety.

  3. Oakland is a good case study in how the “more gun owners equals a safer society” trope is a steaming pile of horseshit.

    1. Did you read the article?  California civil rights, historical oppression, and Oakland in particular happen to be subjects in which I’m terribly studied.  The death in Oakland hasn’t a single thing to do with guns.

      Your argument is essentially saying that “since people in Oakland walk around with guns, and there is high murder rates in Oakland, therefore guns = high murder rates”.  Logical fallacies abound.  Your logic follows, but forcing a conclusion to follow a premise does not mean you are correct.

      You entirely fail to consider that those people walking around with guns – they are also people who are walking around already intending to murder somebody, whether or not they have a gun.

      You deal with the legacy of oppression and hopeless that CA very intentionally created between ~1850 and ~1975, you deal with the “gun violence”.

      1. Yes, we obviously need to deal with the underlying social problems as well. That’s a big part of what I do for a living.

        BUT—even when you control for economic and social disenfranchisement, you still get a lot more murders in communities where guns are abundant than in ones where they’re rare. There is simply no data to support the often-made claim that guns are likely to make people safer.

        1. Chicago, NY, Oakland, LA… strongest gun control and most gang violence – what does that tell you about gun control?  It’s totally ineffective to stop gang violence, which is where something like 85% of murders in the US come from.  Stop simply reacting and think about these things.

          If you do social work for a living, then I’m assuming you really care about these kids who have no hope and a legacy of disenfranchisement.  If you care about them, then why would you ever support ineffective measures to help them?

          I’m not even talking about pro gun stuff – I’m simply talking efficacy.  Gun control does not stop hopeless, disenfranchised youth (especially organized gangs) from killing each other with guns.

          Look, I care about the victims too.  But they aren’t victims of “gun violence” their victims of a legacy of oppression and frankly, an identity of hopeless that continues to be spoken over them today!

          We’ve been trying gun control for like 40 years to deal with gang violence and it hasn’t been working.  Let’s try something else.  Oh wait, that would mean getting people to actually deal with racism and admit historical oppression that occurred within my very young lifetime.  I guess that’s not going to happen.Sorry for my tone, I care deeply about this and have been accused of “supporting murders” left and right lately.  I don’t want to “go full retard”, I want to discuss.  I hope my words did not offend, I did not intend them to.

          1. Chicago, NY, Oakland, LA… strongest gun control and most gang violence – what does that tell you about gun control?  It’s totally ineffective to stop gang violence, which is where something like 85% of murders in the US come from.

            Because as Maggie pointed out a few days ago not all gun control measures are equally effective. A city-wide ban on firearms doesn’t do much if you can still get all the semiautomatic assault weapons you want a short drive away.

            I don’t blindly support all gun control legislation. I support the kinds of gun control legislation that has already been proven effective elsewhere, in cultures that are largely similar to our own. Canada, Australia, the UK: all have thriving communities of gun-owning sportsmen, but a small fraction of our homicide rates. Do they still have gang-related crime? Certainly. But they generally don’t have mass shootings, innocent bystanders killed in drive-bys, and other violent problems that America faces on a far-too-regular basis.

          2. Hm, you are correct about gang violence in the UK. I know they’ve got a very high violent crime rate, and they’re a melting pot nation as well, though their social dynamics are much different, as are their geographic dynamics.  Heck, accent varies almost on a block by block basis in London!

            Anyways, I certainly don’t have it all figured out and I have some thinking and reading to do about gang violence in the UK.  But consider this – they’ve always had low gun crime, even before the mid-80’s ban on handgun ownership.  And after the ban?  Handgun crime increased, and continues to do so today (year over year).

            Definitely some different dynamics going on there, and I don’t think it’s a good analogue to the US, at least not for gun murders.  Certainly its valuable as a group of data points, but not in internet comment spaces like it is so commonly brought up.

          3. We’ve been trying gun control for like 40 years

            No, we haven’t. Implementing piecemeal gun control laws in places surrounded by areas without gun control laws is so pathetic that it doesn’t even count as “trying”. Countries that have actually “tried”, by having national laws, have “succeeded”.

    2. Two other things:
      1) It’s not fair to talk about guns and gun ownership in such sweeping negative terms.  You do everyone (yourself included) a disservice by shutting down the conversation so quickly, and honestly – as somebody who supports gun ownership as a matter of civil rights – you are attacking me and my values.  I don’t blame the “red state” people who hate liberals.  I’m not like that, but it’s totally reasonable.

      2) That article was written by my good friend John Osborn.  Great guy.  Great journalist.  He’s doing the “new media” thing pretty well.

      1. I don’t object to gun ownership as a general rule, and I didn’t say I did. I object to people who make sweeping, demonstrably false statements like “we’d all be safer if more people had guns.”
        I also think we owe it to ourselves to see what other societies have done to reduce gun violence, since clearly our approach isn’t working. The countries I’ve mentioned are just a few examples of places that seem to have found a better balance than we have.

        1. Yea, I get you.  But none of those countries have heritages that are as connected to guns as the US’s is.  Perhaps its because the US had it’s genesis right at the time when guns became a viable tool for getting shit done.  It might be as simple and as complicated as that.  In any case.

          In any case – guns are not going away in the US.  Many of the countries you listed have opted to implement gun control by literally stopping most people from owning guns and melting down the existing ones.  That isn’t going to happen in the US.  Literally, it won’t happen in legislatures and the courts will prevent it.  And if it somehow did miraculously happen, there would be widespread violence/resistance and “tragic boat accidents”.

          Gun control can’t work like that in the US, it must happen in a different manner.  I also kind of cringe when I hear people say “we’d all be safer if only…”.  But I cringe pretty much no matter what they are advocating.  That statement is a recipe for reducing freedoms.

  4. “…to try and understand why the numbers keep rising.”

    Population growth? There is a quote in the article that says the percentage is more or less steady.

    As for the “more guns = safer society = bs” by another commenter. I won’t say that it is or isn’t true but it would be tough to get a universal-for-society truth out of Oakland’s (or any one community’s) demographic. It could be true that for some instances more guns does equal more safety. We need more data and/or a better sample.

  5. TL;DR version: as counter-terrorism specialists have been telling us for at least five years, the amount of suicidal homicide in a community strongly correlates with the number of 20 year old men who don’t have jobs.

    1. A common saying among anti violence advocates in Oakland is “Only a job can stop a bullet”.  Very astute.

  6. If people have a dispute regarding an illegal transaction, they cannot go to courts or police for a resolution. If they cannot successfully negotiate a resolution, they often turn to violence. This is one of the reasons that simple drug prohibition should be replaced with carefully calibrated harm reduction strategies.

    1. Yup – this is exactly (one of) the mechanism(s) in which black markets create violence and disenfranchisement.

  7. Iqbal, said that he, too, tries to get young people to consider the futility of violence. “When I get in deeper conversations with young people, it usually boils into how pointless it is and how unnecessary it is and how really deep down people want it to stop,” Iqbal said.

    This. Except I think the referent of “it” would be “their lives” because that’s really why they’re so damn violent.

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