Gun sales in Virginia down following 3 years' growth

Manager David Hancock holds a Smith & Wesson 500 handgun as he fills out paperwork for the purchase of the gun at the Bob Moates sport shop in Richmond, Va.

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Gun sales in Virginia are down following three years of growth.

Virginia State Police logged background checks for 219,491 transactions during the first seven months of 2014. That's down 23 percent from 286,480 transactions during the same period in 2013.

Transactions at gun shows declined by 21 percent during the same period, from 24,870 to 20,492.

Robert Marcus, owner of Bob's Gun Shop in Norfolk, says he's surprised that the sales decline isn't greater because 2013 was an aberration.

Nearly 480,000 transactions were recorded in 2013, an all-time high. State police began doing criminal background checks in late 1989.

Virginia Commonwealth University assistant professor Thomas R. Baker says 2014 remains on pace to be the second-highest year for gun transactions.