Economist and author John Lott famously argued in his 1998 book “More Guns Less Crime” that “states with the largest increases in gun ownership also have the largest drops in violent crimes.” According to Fox News, Virginia is a case in point. While firearms sales are increasing, the state’s gun-related crime is declining.
Firearms sales rose 16 percent to a record 490,119 guns purchased from licensed gun dealers in 2012, according to sales estimates obtained by the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
During the same period, major crimes committed with firearms dropped 5 percent to 4,378.
"This appears to be additional evidence that more guns don't necessarily lead to more crime," Thomas R. Baker, assistant professor at Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Government and Public Affairs, told the Dispatch. "It's a quite interesting trend given the current rhetoric about strengthening gun laws and the presumed effect it would have on violent crimes."
In an interview with the University of Chicago about his book, Lott explains that “criminals are deterred by higher penalties.” Thus, with increased gun ownership, there’s a greater risk that a criminal will confront someone who is armed. “There is a strong negative relationship between the number of law-abiding citizens with permits and the crime rate—as more people obtain permits there is a greater decline in violent crime rates. For each additional year that a concealed handgun law is in effect the murder rate declines by 3 percent, rape by 2 percent, and robberies by over 2 percent,” he says.