Crime Plummets as Gun Purchases Soar in Virginia

 VA Range Trip, c Nick Leghorn

The constant refrain of gun control advocates is that more guns naturally leads to more crime. It’s the founding principle of gun control, the idea that if guns would go away then crimes would stop. Naturally, it’s a theory that we here at TTAG don’t quite buy — and the reason is that there’s so much evidence to the contrary. The latest illustrative example of the lack of a correlation between guns and crime comes from the state of Virginia, where the Richmond Times-Dispatch has a story which perfectly illustrates that point.

Gun-related violent crime continues to drop in Virginia as the sales of firearms continue to soar, a pattern that one local criminologist finds interesting “given the current rhetoric about strengthening gun laws.”

Major gun crime collectively dropped for a fourth consecutive year statewide, while firearms sales climbed to a new record in 2012 with 490,119 guns purchased in 444,844 transactions — a 16 percent rise over 2011, according to federally licensed gun dealer sales estimates obtained by the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

The proliferation of guns occurred as the total number of major reported crimes committed with all types of firearms in Virginia dropped 5 percent, from 4,618 offenses in 2011 to 4,378 last year, according to Virginia State Police data.

So, in Virginia, there are more guns than ever. Keep in mind that Virginia wasn’t exactly lacking for firearms to begin with, having lived in Fairfax for a couple years I am well aware of the massive gun culture in the state. And with the increase in firearms ownership, there has actually been a decrease in crime.

Will this new information lead to gun control advocates revising their rhetoric and re-thinking their position on gun ownership? Probably not. But one can hope.

comments

  1. avatar mediocrates says:

    Five percent is a standard deviation, but it’s a good thought. Much more impressive is the drop since states began allowing concealed carry in the 90s. That’s an undisputable number.

  2. avatar IdahoPete says:

    No, no, no, no … you have it all wrong! I just heard from Mayor Bloomberg’s Illegal Mayors Against Guns, and they told me what is REALLY going on! The reason that Virginia’s crime rate is dropping even when gun sales are going up by record amounts is that ALL OF THE NEW GUNS SOLD IN VIRGINIA ARE BEING TAKEN TO NEW YAWK CITY to be sold to the criminals there! See how easy it is to explain that little statistical blip away? And this falls in with Bloomie’s story that the gun crimes in NYC are caused by the lax gun laws in nearby states, not by the criminal culture and lack of enforcement in NYC!

    Prediction: That is exactly what we will soon be hearing from the gun control twits on this issue.

    1. avatar BLAMMO says:

      Yep that.

  3. avatar Chip says:

    There is an interesting dichotomy of logic in the linked article…. and I am going to post them in reverse order for greatest effect:

    From the end of the article:

    “Background checks are the only law that could make it harder for criminals to acquire guns,” Baker said. “All the other laws, given effective background checks, will likely do little to actually reduce crime.”

    But the question posed early in the article:

    “said Horwitz, executive director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. “So the real question — which I don’t think we really know — is what’s the level of gun sales without a background check?”

    You don’t know the number of guns sold without a background check (duh) but an effective background check is going to make a difference.

    1. avatar JusBill says:

      And you can work it out easily:
      # of guns sold in VA – # of VSP background checks = # of guns sold without background checks.
      Not even new math; numbers are readily available. But DON’T CONFUSE THEM WITH ANY FACTS; feelings are good enough.

  4. avatar Gov. William J. Le Petomane says:

    Don’t expect any epiphanies from the gun banners. Try as you might, you can’t talk sense to the senseless.

  5. avatar jwm says:

    An armed society is a polite society and fairly crime free. Who’d a thunk it.

    1. avatar Rokurota says:

      We’re not that polite. But thanks anyway.

      1. avatar janitor says:

        y’all got loads more manners than your little friends north of the border in Maryland

  6. avatar Blake says:

    “Will this new information lead to gun control advocates….”

    Of the phrase “gun control advocates,” the only part that counts is “control.” The rest is windows dressing.

  7. avatar JPD says:

    Why is it that our resident “expert”, MikeyB200whatever has not joined these discussions lately? I so miss the little diatribes.

    1. avatar Soccerchainsaw says:

      Please don’t say “Beetlejuice” three times!!!

    2. avatar In Memphis says:

      I actually kina miss him. Wrong or not, hes at least entertaining. Way better than some of the trolls we have been getting latley. Not to mention the bots.

      Did you know that my freind makes $700/hr working from home on the internet?

      1. avatar CarlosT says:

        Is she hot?

        1. avatar David Trest says:

          How else do you think she makes that money?

  8. avatar JPD says:

    I believe there is a conspiracy afoot. Since when does ANY major news outlet publish anything positive about gun ownership? Somewhere his Majesty Bloomb$stard missed a bribery payment to the media.

  9. avatar Paul53 says:

    I’m sure we’ll see another study proving there’s no cause and effect relationship.

  10. avatar Duke of Sharon says:

    There is always a direct, irrefutable, praxeological link between reduction in gun control and reduction in crime.

    Violation of the Constitution is a crime. When a government stops doing it, crime is reduced.

  11. avatar Fred says:

    Did one of the gangs move out of Virginia? Oh wait, Virginia doesn’t have a gang problem. There are at least three things to consider on this topic:

    The Myth of Correlation: The correlation, positive or negative, between guns and crime simply does not exist at the macro level according to a Harvard study out there that compares 30-something developed countries and examines crime rates and gun ownership rates. Typically more gun ownership is coupled with lower crime rates in various categories, but the problem is harsh gun control is usually applied as a quick-fix to try to cut off crime, usually the thinking is police can handle medieval-era-armed individuals better. Those measures are usually followed with increasing crime rates, but it is impossible to say the crime rates would not increase equally without the harsh gun control. So basically a lack of gun control is because the government deems the people can handle it (outside of the US where gun ownership is protected). Outside of the US gun ownership is a right granted if the people are “good”, if they aren’t they are punished by taking their guns away. It has no effect on crime, or in some cases even “gun deaths” (AUS), but it makes people feel good for a little while. So correlation is a bit of “which came first”, is there high crime because of high gun control or is there high gun control because there is high crime? According to history crime came before the gun, crime has always been there. The moral of that story is a common sense response we’ve all said; an inanimate object cannot produce crime.

    Deterrence: The gun doesn’t produce crime, but can it deter crime? This can’t be quantified because there simply is no measure. On a macro scale it can’t be quantified either because of the myth of correlation. It’s common sense that deterrence exists, such as the Wild West, but there is no way to quantify and scientifically show the results. Common sense dictates if everyone has a gun you don’t really want to start trouble with anyone, but the problem with that is everyone has their own definition of common sense, jumping to “if no one had guns we’d have a utopia” for some. From various studies, including the Harvard study I mentioned, the message is the same; we can’t prove gun ownership reduces crime but we can prove gun control does not provide any reduction in crime or positive results.

    Gangs: gangs commit crimes, what a surprise, their choice of weapon is usually the gun, but not always. In other nations where guns are more rare blunt weapons or bladed weapons are preferred, like Russia. The tool does not create crime, but people are so indoctrinated by the media (news and movies) if they ever see a gun they instantly think “cop or criminal”, because who else would need a gun, right? According to the CDC about 80% of homicides with a gun can be attributed to gang activity. So is it a gun problem or a crime problem? We all know the answer. Take away the guns and you change the tactics but the strategies are identical, they’re career criminals. The way to end that problem is a major economic and educational upheaval, something that would endanger the current order.

    It’s a pretty complex issue that will never be resolved at the national level. All we can do is protect ourselves and our right to protect ourselves.

    1. avatar JusBill says:

      I offer a corollary to your comment: It is impossible to scientifically prove that something does not exist, only that it does.

      1. avatar Fred says:

        Indeed. No correlation between guns and crime is only because we can’t concretely prove the deterrence factor and to some extent the positive numbers (DOJ estimates 108,000 DGUs, but it’s still an estimate), and mostly because there are a ton of other factors at work at the macro level. The important thing to remember is even if we can’t prove the extent of the positives of guns, because we know there are positives, we know quite concretely that gun control has no positive effect on crime. We don’t have to prove our path is 100% correct, which would be the equivalent of the impossible utopia the anti-gun crowd imagines, we just have to prove their path is wrong.

        We don’t have to push everyone to carry 24/7, all we have to show is if only MIL/LEO have guns it will be worse. There’s plenty of evidence for that.

  12. avatar ChuckN says:

    Sure, now there are gunslingers in the streets, but what about the gunfight
    in Virginia City or the duel at The Grand? Why haven’t we heard of
    the red river of blood? What about the death of that Joe kid? How come
    there’s no stories of the senior citizen accosted by a stranger who wore
    a gun? How comes the police haven’t arrested anybody in the shooting of
    Liberty Valance yet? Why, families need someone riding shotgun just to get
    groceries. They have to hold their homes like the alamo. These people are
    really showing true grit in not moving. But it’s hard when Virginia has
    become like the lawless frontier.

    Maybe it’s just too hard to see a clear picture of all the problems of
    increasing gun ownership through the gunsmoke. However, for a few
    dollars more MAIG could find the answers to this issues for us.

  13. avatar ChuckN says:

    Sure, now there are gunslingers in the streets, but what about the gunfight
    in Virginia City or the duel at The Grand? Why haven’t we heard of
    the red river of blood? What about the death of that Joe kid? How come
    there’s no stories of the senior citizen accosted by a stranger who wore
    a gun? How comes the police haven’t arrested anybody in the shooting of
    Liberty Valance yet? Why, families need someone riding shotgun just to get
    groceries. They have to hold their homes like the alamo. These people are
    really showing true grit in not moving. But it’s hard when Virginia has
    become like the lawless frontier.

    Maybe it’s just too hard to see a clear picture of all the problems of
    increasing gun ownership through the gunsmoke. However, for a few
    dollars more MAIG could find the answers to this issues for us.

  14. avatar In Memphis says:

    My mother told me about this. I was actually kind of proud of her for paying attention to real news and not the darn “royal” baby.

  15. avatar Bastiat says:

    Forgot to correct for changes in population. You can’t do violent crime demography without calculating the rate of incidents per 100,000 residents.

  16. avatar bill i says:

    I love it when the gun banners undermine their own argument. Straight facedly saying that just because sales through licensed dealers went up, we can’t know the impact of private sales on crime? Crime with guns went down. Doesn’t matter who sold what to who and how. If he’s right, then for all we know there were MILLIONS more guns sold in Virginia, and GUN CRIME STILL WENT DOWN. We are truly blessed in our adversaries.

  17. avatar Rokurota says:

    Being a Virginian, I loved:
    1. That this was front page news in my local gun-hatin’ rag (the one that outed CHP holders in 2007).
    2. The measured, cautious warning from the study’s author not to equate more guns with less crime, despite:
    3. The dramatic, widening gap between both
    4. The tongue-tied muttering of the gun control guy, who falls back on good old background checks. He sounds logical, except that Cho Seung-Hui bought his two guns with background checks. I’ve bought the same number of guns without background checks and have used them in exactly zero crimes.
    5. The academic bluntly stating New York’s new laws don’t work to mitigate crime
    6. Closing with the always-crisp Philip Van Cleave. God bless you, Philip.

  18. avatar uncommon_sense says:

    You know what the gun grabbers are going to say, right? They will say that the violent crime rate would have fallen even lower than it already did if we could have eliminated firearms. Of course there is no data for such a claim … but when did the gun grabbers ever actually need data?

  19. avatar Out_Fang_Thief says:

    Most criminals who prey on unarmed citizens know the gun laws of the areas where they work better than the people they prey on. It’s how they decide where they will commit their crimes. Most criminals are looking for an easy crime, one that doesn’t pose a threat to their health, or their life. When they realize that the rules have changed and people can arm themselves, they move on to easier places with easier targets. They’re pragmatists. They know that armed citizens don’t have the same restrictions regarding rules of engagement that govern the police, and will fight back harder because they’re not usually armored-up with bullet proof vests and have a back-up. Also, they have no duty whatsoever to bring ’em in alive. Criminals may be dumb, but they’re not stupid. They would rather remain semi-toughs on the outside, than somebody’s prison-bitch on the inside. Tossing the salad of some 250 pound tattooed dude from Scared Straight isn’t real high on their bucket list.

  20. avatar Cubby123 says:

    The answer is so clear,let’s buy more guns!

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