As gun ownership has increased dramatically, gun-related violent crimes have gradually decreased over the past six years in the state of Virginia, according to a new analysis.
From 2006 to 2011, the total number of guns purchased in Virginia increased 73 percent, while the total number of gun-related violent crimes decreased 24 percent over that period. And when adjusted for population growth, the number of crimes further decreases to more than 27 percent, with 79 gun-related offenses per 100,000 in 2006 dropping to 57 by 2011.
Virginia Commonwealth University professor Thomas R. Baker conducted the analysis at the request of the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Baker told the paper that the findings appear to contradict the popular premise that more guns cause more violent crime.
“While there is a wealth of academic literature attempting to demonstrate the relationship between guns and crime, a very simple and intuitive demonstration of the numbers seems to point away from the premise that more guns leads to more crime, at least in Virginia,” said Baker.
Baker examined data from the Virginia Firearms Transaction Center, which tracks the number of gun transactions for every federally licensed Virginia firearm dealer, to state crime data from 2006 to 2011. That data demonstrated that an increase in gun purchases one year was often followed by a decrease in gun crime the next year.
“So the only thing it could be is that more guns are causing less crime,” Baker concluded, noting that the data is “pretty overwhelming.”
Additionally, this trend held true when comparing purchases of all types of firearms, including pistols, revolvers, shotguns and rifles, to gun crime during that period.
The number of gun purchases in the state rose to a record-breaking 420,829 purchases last year, according to gun-dealer transaction data.
Baker believes guns become a political issue because criminals use them and the notion that guns cause crime is “persuasive.” But he notes those individuals focus on the wrong component.
“Instead of trying to figure out why are these people committing crimes — and using the most effective tool to commit those crimes — they focus on the tool,” he continued. “So the gun is causing the crime.”