More Vermont guns are being used in crimes committed outside the state, according to a federal study.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) found that in 2013, adjusting for population, Vermont has the highest rate of guns traced and recovered in other states after being used for criminal activity.
The study found that 23.5 guns per 100,000 Vermont residents - 147 total - were recovered in crimes committed outside the state. New Hampshire, at 22.3 guns per 100,000 residents, has the second-highest gun export rate of the six New England states; Massachusetts has the lowest rate, at 3.7 guns per 100,000 residents, the study found. The national average is 15.2 guns per 100,000 people, the ATF report said.
Ann Braden, president of Gun Sense Vermont, said these are statistics worth taking seriously.
"The system is as strong as the weakest link and right now, we are the weakest link," Braden said.
Gun Sense Vermont is lobbying for criminal background checks on all gun sales in the 2015 legislative session.
Bill Moore, a policy analyst for the Vermont Traditions Coalition, said that guns transported outside Vermont's borders isn't necessarily a cause for concern.
"The bottom line is that there's a certain percentage that come from other states, you could probably find a gun from Vermont in Wyoming, in any state, if you go back far enough," Moore said. "Guns migrate according to people - honest, lawful gun owners.
Evan Hughes of the Vermont Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs dubbed Gun Sense Vermont's news release an "inaccurate attempt to blame Vermont for violent crime in other states."
"No matter how they try to work the numbers, Vermont is simply not a major source of guns in other states," Hughes concluded.