Consumer Products

Gun Sales in This State Top 7 Million Last Year

The Federal Bureau of Investigation tracks gun sales and publishes a list of how many are handled as part of its National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). Each month, the figures are reported by state. Nearly everyone put through this system qualifies as a buyer. People who are excluded usually have criminal records. Of the more than 300 million checks that have been done since 1998, there have only been 1.5 million denials. Therefore, the data is the best proxy for U.S. gun sales available.

Gun sales have soared in the past year. They have reached 39,659,315 for 2020. That is up from the 28,369,750 for all of last year. Growing civil unrest may have prompted people to buy guns for personal and family protection. Another theory is that chaos brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic is a major cause. A new UC Davis School of Medicine study about fear of violence reports: “The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated persistent structural, economic, and social inequities in the conditions that contribute to violence and its consequences.”

Who is buying these guns? A New York Times analysis shows that buyers cut across almost all demographic groups. Gun ownership has continued to be a flashpoint across the country, as the debate about who should own a gun and what kind of guns should be lawful continues, as it has for decades.

The rise in gun sales from 2019 to 2020 is not an anomaly. The number of gun sales has increased most years since 1999. At the current pace, 2020 sales will reach well over 35 million. Sales first topped 25 million in 2016, 20 million in 2013, 15 million in 2011 and 10 million in 2006. The first full year the FBI kept data was 1999, when total sales were 9,138,123.

The rate of gun sales is by no means uniform from state to state, nor is the growth level. Among all states, Illinois has posted the highest sales so far this year, by far, at 7,455,065. That is almost 19% of U.S. gun sales in 2020, although the state has less than 4% of the nation’s population.

These are the number of guns sold by state in 2020:

State/Territory December Sales 2020 Sales
Illinois 829,983 7,455,065
Kentucky 407,522 3,330,462
Texas 205,616 2,325,281
Indiana 263,130 1,935,587
Florida 172,948 1,912,204
California 135,442 1,601,054
Pennsylvania 126,942 1,452,921
Utah 98,918 1,216,773
Alabama 100,927 1,085,475
Michigan 94,439 1,068,511
Tennessee 90,064 984,760
Ohio 85,200 976,751
Minnesota 81,484 958,391
Georgia 86,651 904,035
North Carolina 81,676 890,284
Virginia 70,034 823,513
Washington 73,730 781,471
Wisconsin 61,539 731,618
Missouri 66,672 708,184
Colorado 60,239 680,507
Arizona 54,547 665,458
South Carolina 49,457 530,930
Oregon 46,574 516,096
New York 44,870 507,940
Oklahoma 45,342 470,286
Louisiana 44,689 430,537
Mississippi 38,101 366,829
Arkansas 31,618 324,741
Maryland 29,285 302,563
Idaho 27,543 281,284
Iowa 31,037 270,614
West Virginia 24,557 265,705
Massachusetts 24,487 262,583
Kansas 23,874 249,589
Nevada 17,338 219,349
Connecticut 21,344 219,227
New Mexico 19,437 206,252
New Jersey 21,162 177,901
New Hampshire 14,450 174,662
Montana 17,091 172,695
Maine 11,646 137,149
South Dakota 11,737 115,448
Nebraska 10,963 104,511
Alaska 8,896 98,952
Wyoming 9,736 91,384
North Dakota 8,085 85,465
Delaware 6,666 77,057
Vermont 5,110 57,965
Rhode Island 4,002 51,369
Puerto Rico 4,439 31,671
Hawaii 2,006 20,102
District of Columbia 1,108 11,485
Guam 286 3,572
Virgin Islands 211 1,639
Mariana Islands 29 222