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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Is There A McAuliffe Effect on Gun Sales in Virginia?

The Roanoke Times reported this morning that firearm transactions set a record in Virginia on "Black Friday."
Gun transactions in Virginia totaled 3,902 on Black Friday, a 1.2 percent increase over the previous record of 3,856 transactions on the same day in 2012, according to the latest Virginia State Police figures of mandatory criminal-background checks of gun buyers.
This bucks national results for Black Friday 2013 which the Washington Times reported were slightly lower than last year, though still the sixth highest in history.  Virginia is on pace to set a record for the number of background checks for the entire year as well. The state police only keeps track of the number of background checks.  Actual sales could be higher. If someone is purchasing more that one firearm, only one background check is required.

What is driving the continued record numbers in Virginia? Thomas Baker, an assistant professor at Virginia Commonwealth University’s L. Douglas Wilder School of Government Affairs who did a study of Virginia firearm sales last year offers this perspective:
Baker said it will be interesting to see if concerns about gun legislation have subsided after the defeat of the national gun legislation proposed this year, and if that “will lead to smaller increases of annual gun sales in years to come.”
However, Baker noted that the election of Democrat Terry McAuliffe as governor — “a staunch advocate for stricter gun controls” — could be a driving force for additional year-end gun sales in Virginia. 
“If McAuliffe proposes any state-level gun legislation, we could see another surge in sales similar to those in response to fears about national gun control legislation,” Baker said.
Baker's research found that in the last six years, total firearm sales in Virginia rose a whopping 101 percent from 2006 to 2012, according to federally licensed gun dealer sales estimates. Data for 2013 are not yet available.

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