Virginians are buying firearms in greater numbers than ever while gun crime has dropped for the fourth consecutive year, the Richmond-Times Dispatch reports.
Over 490,000 guns were sold in 2012 — a 16 percent increase from the year before — while gun crime dropped 5 percent.
Even sales of weapons frequently used in homicides such as handguns have not stemmed a drop in gun crime.
Handgun sales rose over 112 percent from 2006 to 2011, while violent crime committed with handguns fell by nearly 22 percent.
“This appears to be additional evidence that more guns don’t necessarily lead to more crime,” Thomas R. Baker, an assistant professor at Virginia Commonwealth University and researcher on the subject, told the Dispatch.
“It’s a quite interesting trend given the current rhetoric about strengthening gun laws and the presumed effect it would have on violent crimes,” Baker said, although he cautioned against drawing the immediate conclusion that more guns lessen crime.
Gun control advocates said Virginia’s case bolsters the need for strict background checks.
“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,” said Josh Horwitz, executive director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence.
Virginia does not mandate background checks for private firearm transactions. New York mayor and gun control advocate Michael Bloomberg has slammed the state for this before, calling for more regulation to stop “crime guns” from being brought up north.
“To those who say ‘stay out of our state,’ our answer is: We’d love to, just as soon as you stop letting guns seep into the black market and get in the hands of criminals who murder our citizens,” Bloomberg said.