Mystery: Virginia gun violence falls as gun sales soar

posted at 1:51 pm on November 27, 2012 by Mary Katharine Ham

Freedom preserved and less crime for everyone. Nifty, huh?

Gun-related violent crime in Virginia has dropped steadily over the past six years as the sale of firearms has soared to a new record, according to an analysis of state crime data with state records of gun sales.

The total number of firearms purchased in Virginia increased 73 percent from 2006 to 2011. When state population increases are factored in, gun purchases per 100,000 Virginians rose 63 percent.

But the total number of gun-related violent crimes fell 24 percent over that period, and when adjusted for population, gun-related offenses dropped more than 27 percent, from 79 crimes per 100,000 in 2006 to 57 crimes in 2011.

The numbers appear to contradict a long-running popular narrative that more guns cause more violent crime, said Virginia Commonwealth University professor Thomas R. Baker, who compared Virginia crime data for those years with gun-dealer sales estimates obtained by the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Correlation isn’t causation, of course, but what’s interesting about this research is how thoroughly it blows out the traditional causal argument of gun-control advocates. How thoroughly?

Thomas R. Baker, the professor who did this research for the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

“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, who specializes in research methods and criminology theory and has an interest in gun issues…

“So while it’s difficult to make a direct causal link (that more guns are resulting in less crime), the numbers certainly present that that’s a real possibility,” Baker added.
The opposite – that more guns are causing more crime – cannot be derived from the numbers, he said.

“It’s mathematically not possible, because the relationship is a negative relationship – they’re moving in the opposite direction,” Baker said. “So the only thing it could be is that more guns are causing less crime.”

So, let’s try it a different way. Just handguns!

Handgun-related offenses account for the majority of violent crimes committed in Virginia.
Because rifles and shotguns are used far less often to commit violent crimes, Baker said, one could argue that the purchase of those types of weapons is falsely inflating the total gun purchases in relation to total gun crime.

So Baker also examined the relationship between handgun purchases and handgun-related crime. He found a similar trend.

Handgun purchases in Virginia increased 112 percent from 2006 to 2011, but violent crimes committed with handguns fell by nearly 22 percent. When adjusted for population increases, handgun purchases rose a little more than 100 percent, but violent crimes committed with handguns dropped 26 percent, according to Baker’s analysis.

And, one more time, for the gun-control crowd. This time, we’ll take all crimes attributed to unknown gun types and assume they were committed with handguns. That oughtta do the trick.

“In fact, if all unknown gun types used in violent gun crimes are assumed to have been handguns, then handgun-related violent crime decreased just over 24 percent from 2006 to 2011,” he said.

And, for the finale, a gun-control lobbyist is reduced to using the talking points of gun-rights activists:

“It’s quite possible that you can sell a whole lot more guns and crime is still going down,” Goddard said. “But is the crime going down because more people are buying guns, or is the crime going down because the crime is going down?”

Goddard said he would not have expected a rise in crime from a rise in legal gun sales, because legal gun buyers are not usually criminals – otherwise they would not pass a background check to get them. “Predicting the actions of criminals by analyzing the behavior of legal gun buyers is not likely to be productive,” he said.

In 2011, Central Virginia accounted for most of the state’s gun sales, but coming in close behind was the bluest part of the state— Northern Virginia. NoVa has a much higher population than Central Virginia, so the per capita purchases would be lower, but I did not expect such a large chunk of gun sales to come in this fairly liberal bastion. Maybe we’re creating converts up here.

Virginia guns

So, who are the people buying all these guns? That’s right, ladies.

Many gun dealers point to women as the most significant demographic of new gun buyers. “We are seeing far more women now — empowering themselves I guess is the word for it,” said Marcus, of Bob’s Gun Shop in Norfolk.

Colonial Shooting Academy in Henrico has been selling out its eight-hour women-only basic pistol instruction classes for the past three months, said Ed Coleman, the general manager.

“The fastest-growing segment of the gun-owning population is women,” Coleman said. “The numbers of women that are buying firearms for the first time are far exceeding men.”

And, if you won’t listen to research, listen to Ice-T.


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Comment pages: 1 2

guns don’t kill people, mandatory liberal policies do

burserker on November 27, 2012 at 4:43 PM

Well then you can rest assured it wasn’t my daughter!

Akzed on November 27, 2012 at 4:36 PM

Good thing for you then. She got a generic Liberal Arts degree (flunked out of Philosophy) with no idea what to do with it – until she decided to go to grad school to become a Sex Ed teacher. Must be an explanation there as to why my son stuck with her as long as he did…..

dentarthurdent on November 27, 2012 at 4:48 PM

Hmmm… maybe one day he woke up with a hangover while his house was being demolished and decided to break up with her despite the benefits, Arthur Dent.

Akzed on November 27, 2012 at 4:55 PM

Hot Air failed a test.

To bad.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on November 27, 2012 at 5:07 PM

Enough guns would help make criminals extinct. We need more Dirty Harrys’ or Harriets’ as the case may be.

kemojr on November 27, 2012 at 5:08 PM

APACHEWHOKNOWS on November 27, 2012 at 5:07 PM

Dude,…you started it. Why don’t you just let it go? BTW, I will read the book you recommended. I love all Native American history.

a capella on November 27, 2012 at 5:12 PM

Hmmm… maybe one day he woke up with a hangover while his house was being demolished and decided to break up with her despite the benefits, Arthur Dent.

Akzed on November 27, 2012 at 4:55 PM

But, her name was not Jillian…..

dentarthurdent on November 27, 2012 at 5:18 PM

But, her name was not Jillian…..

dentarthurdent on November 27, 2012 at 5:18 PM

Tricia Marie McMillan -> Trillian.

tom daschle concerned on November 27, 2012 at 5:23 PM

Hot Air failed a test.
To bad.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on November 27, 2012 at 5:07 PM

What test? Race-baiting response?

Come on, maaaannnn.
Nothing wrong with some level of pride about who you are – but I’m really sick of people who use it for race-baiting.

Sorry to tell you, the Indians lost. Get over it. Time to accept being assimilated.
Besides some Narragansett/Nipmuc, the rest of my ancestry also includes the Campbell Clan of Scotland (the traitors who sided with England and massacred a competing clan), French-Canadian (do I need to explain? – but I like to tell French military jokes), as well as several other nationalities. Not exactly a group with stellar military histories.
I have 4 half-siblings who are all half Eskimo. I have a bunch of nieces and nephews with various amounts of black, Caribbean, and other ethnicities added into what I’ve already mentioned.
The past is just the past – let it go.

dentarthurdent on November 27, 2012 at 5:29 PM

Tricia Marie McMillan -> Trillian.

tom daschle concerned on November 27, 2012 at 5:23 PM

Darn – that’s right. I can’t believe I got her name wrong.
My memory is slipping – too much fog.

dentarthurdent on November 27, 2012 at 5:30 PM

Tricia Marie McMillan -> Trillian.

tom daschle concerned on November 27, 2012 at 5:23 PM

Darn – that’s right. I can’t believe I got her name wrong.
My memory is slipping – too much fog.

dentarthurdent on November 27, 2012 at 5:30 PM

and that darn fish wiggling around in my ear…..
Luckily I have my towel handy….

dentarthurdent on November 27, 2012 at 5:32 PM

Enough guns would help make criminals extinct. We need more Dirty Harrys’ or Harriets’ as the case may be.

kemojr on November 27, 2012 at 5:08 PM

Amen!
S&W M&P 9
Looking at shotguns and assualt rifles.
My son has an AK and a Ruger 22.
I’m doing my part as fast as I can afford…

dentarthurdent on November 27, 2012 at 5:44 PM

GOPE to cave on gun control next election.

unseen on November 27, 2012 at 5:44 PM

You’re kind of a condescending little snot, aren’t you?

Solaratov on November 27, 2012 at 3:26 PM

Kind of?

Capitalist Hog, you’re an idiot. It’s Lott’s chosen method of advocacy that is ‘marginally credible’, not his actual research and findings. Those have never been refuted. Congrats on falling for / perpetuating the character assassinations of the Left. Lott made it easy with his online sockpuppeting. But his conclusion that ‘more guns [equals] less crime’ is spot on. As demonstrated by this topic that Erika brushed against in the defunct Green Room.

rayra on November 27, 2012 at 3:42 PM

Let’s stipulate for you and all the women in my life that I am indeed an “idiot.” Done.

Where in my idiotic statement do I specify my “marginally credible” allegation?

I get that I can be conversationally-boorish. So what? Is that a reason for you to abandon logic? Come on. You’re almost making a good point.

Do over.

Capitalist Hog on November 27, 2012 at 5:52 PM

dentarthurdent on November 27, 2012 at 5:29 PM

I love how people use their family-tree as a type of I’m not racist but force field. Do you control whom your relatives may and may not love?

OUT: My best friend is ___________.
IN: I can’t be racist; My best friend’s neighbor waved to my sister who went on a date with a black-guy to an Indian Casino on Cinco de Mayo.

Capitalist Hog on November 27, 2012 at 5:58 PM

Brought to you by the same people who can’t figure out why the crime rates keep going down when more people are in prison……..

tom on November 27, 2012 at 6:07 PM

Capitalist Hog on November 27, 2012 at 5:58 PM

I’m trying to point out to Apache that he’s got nothing special that gives him the right to start and argument with race-baiting and then whine that people are being mean to him.
And here you are siding with the race-baiter.
So tell me, what exactly is your approved response to race-baiting?

dentarthurdent on November 27, 2012 at 6:17 PM

Mystery: Virginia gun violence falls as gun sales soar

headline by MKH

Sorry I’m late to this thread . . . . .
.
I reject the use of the word “violence” as it has been used by the dominant culture of Professional Journalism, including this thread title.
Every time a firearm is discharged, “violence” occurs. The act of igniting a charge of gunpowder, inside a cartridge case, inside (hopefully) the “chamber” of a firearm, thereby driving a projectile or “shot charge” down the barrel, and out the muzzle, has to be considered an act of violence by anyone’s definition.

It doesn’t matter if you’re at the rifle range, or the trap/skeet range.

My point is that we’ve allowed the word violence to be arbitrarily stigmatized as being something bad. Yet we approve of Professional Sports, and of using dynamite for excavation/construction, as well as mineral quarries and mines.
So far, we haven’t completely banned the hunting and killing of wild animals, for food or “control” (but they’re working on it).

All violence is not axiomatically/arbitrarily bad.

But ALL lawlessness, criminal activity, and anarchy are.

listens2glenn on November 27, 2012 at 6:21 PM

Small Pox the main killer used by Spain/Mexico/U.S..

No. Two. guns aka “fire sticks”.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on November 27, 2012 at 2:36 PM

This. There is a fantastic book called “1491″ that studies pre-Columbian America from every scientific and anthropological angle possible, and makes a very compelling case that smallpox wiped out upwards of 90 percent of the existing population. It was a perfect storm sort of plague that Europeans unwittingly brought over; the infected blankets story is a stupid anecdote compared to the mass devastation that had already taken place. There is strong evidence to conclude that native tribes had vast trade routes from Peru all the way up to Maine, and that they were situated in places for several generations. Until the plague came, killing everyone and scattering the survivors into nomadic groups.

John the Libertarian on November 27, 2012 at 7:04 PM

On topic:

Not news/

Off topic:

I tawt I taw a tawk puppet.d:

S. D. on November 27, 2012 at 7:12 PM

So tell me, what exactly is your approved response to race-baiting?

dentarthurdent on November 27, 2012 at 6:17 PM

Declown thyself nimrodian. I was just ribbing you. But your flared-hemorrhoidial response gives you away.

Sensitive much?

Capitalist Hog on November 27, 2012 at 7:22 PM

…Black Friday was a record in history…for single day gun sales.

KOOLAID2 on November 27, 2012 at 9:01 PM

Goddard said he would not have expected a rise in crime from a rise in legal gun sales, because legal gun buyers are not usually criminals – otherwise they would not pass a background check to get them. “Predicting the actions of criminals by analyzing the behavior of legal gun buyers is not likely to be productive,” he said.

Umm, isn’t that the argument that gun advocates have been making all along? Glad to see the gun grabbers are now seeing our side in this.

Let’s do the corollary to this. What is the crime rate in populations were legally owned firearms are highly restricted or outright banned? e.g. Detroit, Chicago, Washington D.C., NYC. Compare and contrast and incorporate Goddard’s statement above. So, now why does taking guns from law abiding citizens make sense again?

AZfederalist on November 27, 2012 at 9:02 PM

should be where legally owned firearms are highly restricted …

AZfederalist on November 27, 2012 at 9:03 PM

guns don’t kill people, mandatory liberal policies liberals do
burserker on November 27, 2012 at 4:43 PM

Why split hairs? How many gangbangers voted for Mitt Romney?

logis on November 27, 2012 at 9:51 PM

Declown thyself nimrodian. I was just ribbing you. But your flared-hemorrhoidial response gives you away.

Sensitive much?

Capitalist Hog on November 27, 2012 at 7:22 PM

That’s one of the points you miss – you self-proclaimed boorish idiot.
Why is it ok for someone to call themselves Apache and proceed to race-bait for arguments, but a simple response saying that’s not appropriate from someone with a similar and varied racial background is bad?
The point is I’m not sensitive about any part of my racial background in any way, and I don’t use it to pick fights with people. That’s race-baiting – which in my view, indicates a racist at work – which you appear to defend.
So read the whole thread and pull your head out of your @ss.

dentarthurdent on November 27, 2012 at 10:28 PM

John the Libertarian on November 27, 2012 at 7:04 PM

Don’t you know the evil white man INTENTIONALLY spread smallpox to kill off all the natives? That’s what they’re teaching our kids in school these days.
Beware, the libs don’t like it when you shine the light on their revisionist history.

dentarthurdent on November 27, 2012 at 10:31 PM

jaydee_007 on November 27, 2012 at 3:29 PM

Good job picking the real story instead of the fake embellished Darwin Awards version.

dentarthurdent on November 27, 2012 at 4:04 PM

I live in Puyallup, Wa. and I have been in that store.

jaydee_007 on November 28, 2012 at 3:08 AM

Not surprising. Central and Western VA is a big time hunting area. Also, we here in the Commonwealth of Virginia, mother of Presidents, believe in the Constitution and the right to bear arms. I myself have four arms – my right and left, and a pistol and an assault rifle for each of those two arms.

RandallinHerndon on November 28, 2012 at 8:58 AM

“Doomsday Prepper Effect”

As wacky as that show is, I gotta admit you can pick up some damn good pointers.

BobMbx on November 27, 2012 at 2:10 PM

Agreed. Alot of those on the show have taken it a bit far, but those who are “prepping” for the breakdown of social order due the the collapse of the financial system, IMO, are ahead of the game.

RandallinHerndon on November 28, 2012 at 9:29 AM

In this area of NOVA there is a rise in the number of people taking up hunting. In the immediate neighborhood this has gone up from 1 hunter a decade ago to about 5 currently, and taking out sons and daughters to teach them to hunt as well.

What you get is the start of the 3 Gun family: rifles, shotguns and handguns. Like the 3 Gun competitions that means you start to see a much wider range of skills to go with each platform and now that there is a nearby general indoor range and a bit more distant outdoor rifle and shotgun range, there is now opportunity to practice. Plus the indoor range is featuring CQB training in varieties of configurations and conditions.

And I believe there is also an IPSEC group active in the area, which is going to support this concept, as well.

In other words, gun sports and hunting are in suburbia in this region of NOVA. Crimes against people have gone down, while crimes against property (particularly vehicles in a few areas) have gone up. That is to say crimes of opportunity have gone down against people as they are no longer seen as opportunistic by criminals. I like that mindset. People asserting themselves as citizens are not subjects any longer. The more this goes on the more things will change… it just takes time.

ajacksonian on November 27, 2012 at 4:39 PM

What part of the Peoples Republic of Northern Virginia are you in? I am in northwestern FFX Co, and have two gun stores within 5 miles of each other. One I can walk to. One with a really nice indoor range. Not to mention NRA HQ range just a little further down the road.

RandallinHerndon on November 28, 2012 at 9:59 AM

I live in Puyallup, Wa. and I have been in that store.

jaydee_007 on November 28, 2012 at 3:08 AM

I’ve seen so many people reference the fake embellished Darwin story – which is a good story, but just not real. The real store is good enough though.

My sister-in-law lives near Ellensburg – Clay Aiken??// (probably not) – Clay something. She’s a bit of a lefty though so I doubt she’s ever been in any store like that one. I personally have never been to Wa State – but if I ever get there, I want to go to that store.

dentarthurdent on November 28, 2012 at 10:33 AM

dentarthurdent on November 28, 2012 at 10:33 AM

Cle` Elum (Clay Ell Um)

jaydee_007 on November 28, 2012 at 3:01 PM

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