California Democrat Pushes Automatic Gunshot Detection

ShotSpotter (Mathew Sumner / Associated Press)
Mathew Sumner / Associated Press

A California Democrat is pushing to have ShotSpotter gunshot detection systems placed in cities and towns throughout the state to stop mass shootings — or any shooting.

The ShotSpotter system consists of “a network of sound sensors” that are built to detect gunfire and pinpoint the location the of the gunfire using GPS coordinates. The system is designed to feed those coordinated to police.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the systems are already being used in 11 California cities, including Oakland, Sacramento, San Diego, and San Francisco. Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella) wants to put them in more places, and his push includes smaller cities that struggle to pay for a police force, much less a ShotSpotter system.

Garcia said, “[ShotSpotter] can curtail gun shooting incidents and it gives law enforcement precise information on where shootings occur so they can respond quickly.” He says he was motivated to push for a more expansive use of the system after he heard revelers firing guns into the air when the clock struck midnight on New Year’s Eve.

He said he was about to go outside with his kids when the sound of gun shots began. “Before we knew it, some parts of our area started to sound like a war zone, with multiple shots going up, I told them ’We’re not going outside.’ What goes up comes down.”

ShotSpotter sounds effective when Garcia describes it, but there is a catch: the system’s performance has not been stellar in some cities where it is currently installed.

For example, in 2007 Newark Mayor Cory Booker brought ShotSpotter to his city under the guise that so doing would help police find people committing gun crime throughout the city. Booker said, “You can actually capture the perpetrators in their actions.” But in August 2013 WNYC reported, “In the last three years, gunshot detection sensors in Newark went off 3,632 times, and 17 shooters were arrested on scene.”

To put that number in perspective: the ShotSpotter systems cost Newark taxpayers approximately $80,000 a year for the three-year time period in view. That means taxpayers paid $240,000 above and beyond normal police expenses in order to secure 17 crime scene arrests.

AWR Hawkins is the Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and host of Bullets with AWR Hawkins, a Breitbart News podcast. He is also the political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at


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