Firearms sales in Virginia are on the rise and gun-related crime is on the decline, an interesting situation given that many are calling for stricter gun control laws. Gun sales rose 16 percent in 2012 and major crimes committed with firearms dropped 5 during the same time period.
"This appears to be additional evidence that more guns don't necessarily lead to more crime," said Thomas R. Baker, an assistant professor at Virginia Commonwealth University's L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs. "It's a quite interesting trend given the current rhetoric about strengthening gun laws and the presumed effect it would have on violent crimes. While you can't conclude from this that tougher laws wouldn't reduce crime even more, it really makes you question if making it harder for law-abiding people to buy a gun would have any effect on crime."
He cautioned against jumping to conclusions.
“To substantiate (that) argument, you would need to eliminate a number of other factors that could potentially explain away the relationship of more guns, less crime in Virginia,” Baker said. “Only if the relationship remained after controlling for additional factors could a researcher be more comfortable making the claim that more guns lead to less crime. But what the data does show is that the ‘more guns, less crime argument’ is certainly possible.”
Josh Horwitz, executive director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, said that the numbers are skewed because they don’t take into account how many guns are sold without a background check, Fox News reported.
"In other words, if people who buy those guns and have a background check, and keep those guns and don't sell them, then you would not expect that those guns would affect the crime rate," Horwitz said. "The important analysis is not the total number of guns sold with a background check, but rather the number of guns sold without a background check."
Philip Van Cleave, president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, said the data reflects that most of the guns are "going to decent people.”
"That's not going to affect crime and, in fact, all those extra guns can actually work to lower crime because those are going into the hands of (concealed) permit holders or people using them to defend their homes," Van Cleave said.