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Report Downplays Connection for States with Highest Gun Purchases, Lowest Violent Crime Rates

Report Downplays Connection for States with Highest Gun Purchases, Lowest Violent Crime Rates

A recent report from a security company revealed that the states with the most firearms purchases have some of the lowest violent-crime rates.

According to the report from security.org, Montana had the highest percentage of firearms purchased in 2018, with nearly 142 guns bought per 1,000 adults. It also had some of the lowest rates of murders, robberies, and aggravated assaults involving a firearm.

The top nine states for gun purchases are repeatedly listed as having some of the lowest firearms-related violent crimes. None of the top nine states for gun purchases had the highest gun-related violent crimes.

Security.org sells home security systems, medical alert systems, and identity theft protection plans. Its researchers used 2018 data from the National Instant Criminal Background Check System and applied an “industry-accepted formula” to determine an estimated number of firearms purchases. For the violent crime rates, the researchers used the FBI’s 2017 report on annual crime in the United States. (The FBI’s reports for both 2017 and 2018 show violent crime has been decreasing.)

The researchers noted: “Bridging the political divides over guns and gun control could be helped by a deeper understanding of the geographic differences in gun sales, gun crimes and gun deaths. We wanted to look at where in the United States all three of these things were most common and see what connections and correlations can be drawn between those states.”

However, where the connection or correlation showed that high gun purchases equate to lower violent crime, the authors seem to invalidate the conclusion. “It’s notable that some of the states with the highest population-adjusted rates of gun purchases (Montana, South Dakota and others) are among the states where guns are used the least in violent crimes. While this does not hold true for every state and across every crime category, it’s also not a fair comparison. That’s because guns used in the commission of a crime often are purchased illegally or stolen outright.”

It is noteworthy that the authors did not clarify why illegal gun purchases and gun thefts would invalidate the connection with lower crime rates without also invalidating the rest of the report.

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