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Gun crime on the rise in Mass. since 1998 firearms law

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Murders, aggravated assaults, and robberies involving guns have risen dramatically in Massachusetts since the state passed a comprehensive package of gun laws in 1998, the Boston Globe reports.

The escalating nationwide gun control debate has posed a variety of reasons for increased crime in stricter states and cities: On the one hand, gun rights groups argue that restricting law-abiding citizens from arming themselves give criminals an advantage. On the other, gun-control advocates argue that strict laws in one state mean nothing if its adjoining state is lax on guns.

"The quality of your gun-licensing laws is only as good as those surrounding you," James Alan Fox, a Northeastern University criminologist, told The Globe.

The report finds that many guns found in Massachusetts travel only a short distance: 133 crime guns were traced to New Hampshire in 2011, and 79 to Maine, according to the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. Those states accounted for nearly one-third of the 669 crime guns traced to states outside of Massachusetts.

The state recorded 122 murders using a firearm in 2011, up from 65 in 1998. The state passed a package of laws in 1998, banning semiautomatic "assault weapons," requiring strict licensing requirements and a mandate that firearms be stored safely, the Globe reports.

From 1998 to 2011, aggravated assaults with guns rose 26.7 percent. Robberies with firearms increased 20.7 percent during that period, according to an FBI analysis conducted for the Globe.

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