More than 2,500 guns bought in Virginia were recovered from crime scenes in other states, making the state one of the main sources for weapons used to commit felonies, according to a new report.
Only Georgia and Florida supplied more guns used in crimes outside their borders than Virginia, according to the report released Monday by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a coalition co-chaired by Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York and Mayor Thomas Menino of Boston.
Ten states, including Virginia, supplied 49 percent of firearms - nearly 21,000 guns -- recovered in crimes across state lines. Adjusting for population, Virginia was ranked seventh with an export rate of more than twice the national average. Maryland's rate was 33rd, and D.C. was 51st.
The report tied gun control laws such as background checks for dealers and falsifying purchaser information with lower rates of crime gun exporting.
"[Loosening] laws does not help promote public safety in the state," said Lori Haas, a board member for the Virginia Center for Public Safety, a nonprofit organization that works to reduce gun violence. "We are well-known as a source of guns for criminals. We don't have background checking at gun shows. ... Criminals know where to get their guns. They come to Virginia, and they load up."
Closing the "gun show loophole," which exempts private sellers who say they sell guns occasionally from conducting background checks, was one of 10 laws the report cites as helping to curb illegal gun trafficking. Virginia has four of the 10 on its books: criminal penalties for buying a gun for someone who can't, buying a gun with false information, selling a gun without a proper background check and allowing inspections of gun dealers.
But David Adams, legislative committee chairman for the Virginia Shooting Sports Association, the official state association of the National Rifle Association, was skeptical of the report, pointing out the state law that limits handgun purchases to one a month.
"I wasn't really surprised to see what they came out with," he said, adding that it provides good "talking points" for gun control advocates.
The report cited some issues with its methodology, namely that traced firearms do not represent all crime guns and that in 2009 the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms could not identify the source states in 39 percent of trace attempts.