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Gun violence in Va falls, firearms sales up

Saturday - 11/24/2012, 1:42pm  ET

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Gun-related violence has fallen steadily since 2006 in Virginia despite record firearm sales, according to a university professor's analysis.

Virginia Commonwealth University professor Thomas R. Baker compared state crime data from 2006 through 2011 with gun-dealer sales estimates obtained by the Richmond Times-Dispatch ( http://bit.ly/YcTt5E).

Baker's analysis shows the number of gun purchases soared 73 percent in the six-year period, while gun-related violent crimes fell 24 percent.

Baker, who specializes in research methods and criminology theory, said the comparison seems to contradict the premise that more guns lead to more crime in Virginia.

Andrew Goddard, president of the Virginia Center for Public Safety that lobbies for gun control, questioned the significance of the statistics.

"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?"

Gun-rights supporter Philip Van Cleave, president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, said whether gun-related violent crimes are committed depends on who possesses the firearms.

"As long as it's going into the hands of people like you or me, there's not going to be a problem," he said. "Criminals are going to continue to get their guns no matter what."

State police statistics on mandatory criminal-background checks shows the estimated number of gun purchases rose to 420,829 last year from 243,251 in 2006. The number of violent crimes in Virginia dropped to 18,196 in 2011 from 23,431 in 2006.

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Information from: Richmond Times-Dispatch, http://www.timesdispatch.com


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