Virginia Gun Crime Drops While Firearm Sales Explode

Virginia gun crime is dropping at the same time that gun sales are exploding in the conservative state. But people disagree about what the statistic means or whether it really means anything at all.

The Richmond, Virginia Times-Dispatch reported Sunday that gun crime in Virginia has dropped for the fourth year in a row.

The Virginia State Police said that gun violence dropped five percent between 2011 and 2012.

Yet the numbers are in for firearms sales in 2012 — and those results might surprise you. The legal sale of guns hit an all-time high, with over 490,000 guns sold in over 440,000 transactions.

Some gun dealers had a true boom year in 2012. One dealer, SSG Tactical Spotsylvania, actually enjoyed a 184 percent spike in sales over 2011.

Conservative and anti-gun control observers welcomed the data. Here’s a typical reaction to a Fox News summary of the original Times-Dispatch report:

But the article itself doesn’t seem to make a strong case against gun control. Virginia State Police do what is described as an instant background check on anybody buying a gun through the federally licensed dealers.

Virginia Citizen’s Defense League Philip Van Cleave said that it just showed that the new gun sales were to law-abiding 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…people using them to defend their homes.”

If you look at it that way, you could argue that background checks and gun control are working as they should to control Virginia gun crime.

Frankly, the debate seems to be one where nobody is going to change their mind based on statistics. Especially if we can’t agree on what the statistics are really saying.

Even though anecdotes aren’t data, we’re forced to fall back on our experience.

I’ll freely share mine. I think guns are fairly worthless as defensive weapons because for me they were.

When we were the victims of a drive-by shooting, the crackheads in question got off five shots and were safely on their way before our supposed hero even got his legal firearm out of its holster.

But if you have used a gun to successfully defend yourself against a bad guy, you’re going to have a different opinion.

Maybe it’s an interesting data point that Virginia’s gun crime has dropped while firearm sales grow. But do we really care about the numbers?

[photo by bikerriderlondon via Shutterstock]

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