The proportion of people being denied permission to buy firearms at Virginia gun shows who then are arrested has been increasing over the past two years, a pattern that one local criminologist said should please gun control and gun rights supporters alike.
“I would think this is a positive sign for both gun control advocates and gun rights supporters,” said Thomas R. Baker, a criminologist and an assistant professor at Virginia Commonwealth University’s L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs, who analyzed recently released state police gun data for the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
It’s something for gun rights supporters, Baker said, who individually and through the NRA have been calling for stricter enforcement of existing gun laws instead of passage of additional ones. “This clearly shows an upward trend in enforcement” in Virginia, he said.
“Likewise,” Baker said, “gun control advocates can point to the effectiveness of background checks for keeping guns out of the wrong hands.”
But Baker noted that while the upward trend in arrests for denials is a positive sign, “it’s important to note that those who weren’t arrested after their failed background check could simply go to a private seller at a gun show and purchase a gun.”
Last year, 73 percent of those denied permission to buy a firearm at gun shows
were not arrested, compared with 87.6 percent in 2012, according to Baker’s analysis of the data.
“This makes it difficult to understand why anyone still opposes universal background checks
,” Baker added.