The Virginia State Crime Commission met Monday and Tuesday to pore over state gun-violence statistics, hear from experts about laws that have proved effective and ineffective in other states and to hear testimony from law-enforcement officials and advocates on both sides of the gun debate.
Now, the group will study more than 70 proposed bills ahead of the General Assembly’s special session on gun laws, which will resume Nov. 18 – after the Nov. 5 state election during which all 140 seats in General Assembly are up for re-election.
In the meantime, the sessions revealed new numbers on gun-related homicides, suicides, gun sales and concealed-carry permits in the state. Some takeaways:
Gun-related suicides are on the rise:
The number of gun-related suicides in Virginia has steadily increased over the last decade, from 493 in 2007 to 674 in 2018, according to state health officials. About two-thirds of all gun-related deaths in Virginia are suicides and one-third are homicides.
White men and Native American men had the highest rates of gun-related suicide during that period.
Data presented at the Crime Commission hearing showed that Prince William County has also seen a rise in gun-related suicides in the last five years. There were 23 gun-related suicides in Prince William in 2017, up from 18 in 2013.
Hospitalizations for non-fatal gun injuries increased 19% in 5 years
According to the department, rates of gun-related injuries per 10,000 hospital visits increased 19% from 2014 to 2018.There were 784 hospitalizations due to non-fatal gun injuries increased in Virginia in 2017.
Virginia Department of Health data showed that 87% of hospitalizations due to gun-related non-fatal injuries occurred among males and 67% of hospitalizations due to gun-related non-fatal injuries occurred among black or African Americans.
1.5 million firearms were purchased in Virginia from 2016 and 2018
Virginia State Police data presented at the hearings showed that about 1.5 million guns were purchased statewide between 2016 and 2018. The most common type of guns purchased were pistols and rifles.
According to police, there are 644,373 active concealed handgun permits in Virginia as of August 14, 2019. In 2018, 166,078 concealed handgun permits were issued or renewed, and 583 concealed handgun permits were revoked because of disqualifying offenses.