RICHMOND, Va. (CBSDC) — A new report finds that gun-related crimes are falling in Virginia as the number of firearms sold rise.

According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the number of gun crimes dropped for the fourth consecutive year as firearms sales in Virginia climbed to a new record last year with 490,119 guns purchased, which was a 16 percent rise over 2011. The Times-Dispatch obtained the information from federally licensed gun dealer sales estimates.

According to the Virginia State Police, gun crimes fell from 4,618 in 2011 to 4,378 in 2012, a 5 percent drop.

“This appears to be additional evidence that more guns don’t necessarily lead to more crime,” Thomas Baker, assistant professor at Virginia Commonwealth University’s Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs, told the Times-Dispatch.

Baker continued: “While you can’t conclude from this that tougher laws wouldn’t reduce crime even more, it really makes you question if making it harder for law-abiding people to buy a gun would have any effect on crime.”

A national gun-control group dismissed the link that soaring firearms sales helped to reduce gun-related crime violence.

“Guns sold incident to a background check are less likely to be involved in crimes than guns sold without a background check,” Josh Horwitz, executive director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, told the Times-Dispatch. “So the real question – which I don’t think we really know – is what’s the level of gun sales without a background check?”

The Times-Dispatch found that pistol sales jumped from 175,717 in 2011 to 210,789 in 2012, a 19.9 percent jump, while rifle sales climbed 19.8 percent as 135,495 were sold in 2011 compared to 162,391 in 2012.

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