New Study: Virginia One of Top Sources for Crime Guns


    This morning’s New York Times reports on a new study by the Mayors Against Illegal Guns, which concludes that states with the loosest gun laws – states like Virginia – “exported guns used in crimes at significantly higher rates than states with more stringent laws.”

    “What this does is help refute some of the statements that people make on the pro-gun side in saying that tougher gun laws are unconnected to reducing crime,” he said.

    A state’s gun laws are only as good as the weakest link in the national chain,” Professor Fox said. “A state with weaker gun laws becomes a supplier for states with stronger laws.”

    Indeed, the authors of the mayors’ study, which was prepared largely out of Mr. Bloomberg’s office, said the findings suggested that gun traffickers had sought out states with less restrictive gun-purchase laws.

    “What this really shows is that bad laws really do equal more gun trafficking,” said John Feinblatt, Mr. Bloomberg’s chief policy adviser, “and that gaps in the law really do make a difference.”

    Where does Virginia fit into all this? According to the study, Virginia is one of the top 10 states, on a per capita basis, in terms of gun export rates. These 10 states “also supply a greater proportion of guns that are likely to have been trafficked.”  And, not surprisingly, “There is a strong association between a state’s gun laws and that state’s propensity to export crime guns.”  Which is why it’s not surprising that, in 2009, Virginia – with its relatively lax gun laws – ranked third in the nation in top interstate crime gun supplier states, behind only Georgia and Florida.  It’s also why laws like “one gun a month” and closing the “gunshow loophole” are so important, if we could ever get them passed in Virginia.

    • Jim B

      No amount of crime or killing will sway the gun lovers. Every gun law is an affront to them. To gun lovers there seems to an addiction just like drugs and alcohol. They are different. For an example my next door neighbor kills any varmints that approach his tomato patch. I simply put some chicken wire around mine to keep them out.

    • The Donkey

      Initially, I think “One Gun a Month” is still the law in Virginia, and not one of the measures that MAIG studied in their report.

      More generally, the MAIG report is fatally flawed. One of the main problems with the report is that it calculates each States’ “Crime Gun Export Rate” as the the total number of “Crime Guns” sold in each state that then cross state lines per 100,000 of population.

      It does not measure the number of exported “Crime Guns” as a proportion of the total number of initial gun sales per state.

      I suspect that there is a strong correlation between the total number of exported “crime guns” and the total number of gun sales, because the more guns that are sold, the more likely they are to cross state lines and become the subject of a police trace.

      There is likely to be a strong negative correlation between the enactment of certain gun control measures — such as a state’s requirement that the police provide a permit for each gun sale — and a reduction in the total number of gun sales.

      There would be nothing particularly remarkable about a finding that reducing the total number of gun sales in a state would reduce the total number of guns exported by and then traced to that state: But such a finding doesn’t serve MAIG’s purposes.

      Interesting that MAIG found a relatively weak correlation between differences in crime gun exports and measures to “close the (so called) gunshow loophole” as compared to more invasive measures such as a police permitting requirement. Because states which have “closed the loophole” also have enacted other more serious gun control measures, the likelihood that this weak correlation is false is significant.

      Surveys have been done of criminals and where they get their guns: the results suggest that very few of them are purchased at gunshows. The effect on crime of a “close the loophole” law are likely to be minimal.

      Another problem is pointed out in a different blog:

      “The MAIG Report falsely assumes all traces are from “crime scenes”. Nothing could be further from the truth. Many traces are conducted when nothing illegal has taken place. Take for example the 2009 ATF Trace Data for Virginia. 49% of the traces have no indication of illegal activity (Possession of a weapon, none and found)