Consumer Products

This Is How Many Guns Were Sold in Your State Last Month

U.S. gun sales in February surged 23% to 3,442,777. This makes it among the largest single month since sales figures started to be recorded in 1998.

The rise is part of a trend. Gun sales in the United States rose 40% last year to 39,695,315. The figure also represents the high water mark in gun sales since the current record-keeping system went into effect. Increases by state in February varied substantially, as has been the case for years.

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. 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 310 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.

Growing civil unrest may have prompted people to buy guns for personal and family protection, many social scientists have posited, although this remains a matter of debate. 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 bought these guns? CBS News pointed out that over 5 million people were first-time gun buyers last year. CNN reported a sharp rise in sales to Black Americans and women. “Sales to women are also up 40% through September when compared with the same period last year,” the news network pointed out.

The February increase should not be taken as unusual, nor should the rise in gun sales from 2019 to 2020 be viewed as an anomaly. The number of gun sales has increased most years since 1999. 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 state with the most sales in February was Illinois at an extraordinary 902,020. That is 24% of national sales for the month. However, the state has slightly less than 4% of the national population. The same pattern holds true for the state that had the second-highest gun sales figure last month. Kentucky’s figure hit 378,449, or 11% of the national total. Its population is only 1.3% of the U.S. number.

At the current pace, gun sales in America will reach almost 45 million this year. It is too early to say whether the February trend will continue. However, it is nearly assured that 2021 will set another annual record.

This is how many guns were sold in each state in February:

State / Territory February 2021
Alabama 74,710
Alaska 6,667
Arizona 45,496
Arkansas 18,916
California 119,784
Colorado 50,485
Connecticut 19,748
Delaware 5,245
District of Columbia 920
Florida 138,870
Georgia 73,120
Guam 301
Hawaii 1,507
Idaho 21,223
Illinois 902,020
Indiana 195,162
Iowa 30,572
Kansas 17,528
Kentucky 378,499
Louisiana 26,669
Maine 8,985
Mariana Islands 16
Maryland 23,931
Massachusetts 23,711
Michigan 80,944
Minnesota 75,898
Mississippi 20,971
Missouri 48,646
Montana 11,876
Nebraska 7,870
Nevada 15,615
New Hampshire 12,651
New Jersey 20,242
New Mexico 15,609
New York 36,115
North Carolina 72,430
North Dakota 6,057
Ohio 68,106
Oklahoma 29,006
Oregon 34,957
Pennsylvania 114,482
Puerto Rico 4,339
Rhode Island 3,998
South Carolina 40,032
South Dakota 9,208
Tennessee 62,346
Texas 134,310
Utah 89,891
Vermont 3,874
Virgin Islands 159
Virginia 53,222
Washington 61,409
West Virginia 17,914
Wisconsin 52,251
Wyoming 6,382

Click here to see how much gun sales rose in every state in 2020.