Consumer Products

This Is the State Where People Bought the Most Guns

U.S. gun sales in the first four months of 2021 surged 31% to 15,966,389. This makes it among the largest figures since sales started to be recorded in 1998.

The increase is part of a trend. Gun sales in the United States rose 40% last year to 39,695,315. That represents the high water mark in annual gun sales since the current record-keeping system went into effect. Increases by state in April and for the first four months 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 increases in April and first four months 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. In 1999, the first full year the FBI kept data, sales totaled 9,138,123.

The state with the most gun sales through the first four months was Illinois at 4,287,494. The state has only 4% of the population but accounted for 27% of gun sales for the period.

These are the number of guns sold by state in the first four months of 2021:

State/Territory Total
Alabama 376,018
Alaska 34,933
Arizona 227,679
Arkansas 110,087
California 524,243
Colorado 246,211
Connecticut 106,588
Delaware 27,447
District of Columbia 4,081
Florida 670,846
Georgia 340,465
Guam 1,372
Hawaii 6,138
Idaho 110,596
Illinois 4,287,494
Indiana 851,583
Iowa 121,811
Kansas 91,226
Kentucky 1,169,179
Louisiana 150,983
Maine 48,778
Mariana Islands 89
Maryland 111,365
Massachusetts 104,502
Michigan 406,159
Minnesota 364,282
Mississippi 124,055
Missouri 257,027
Montana 63,355
Nebraska 38,037
Nevada 74,995
New Hampshire 63,694
New Jersey 98,121
New Mexico 77,793
New York 176,683
North Carolina 323,580
North Dakota 31,490
Ohio 348,396
Oklahoma 164,245
Oregon 175,907
Pennsylvania 561,411
Puerto Rico 20,923
Rhode Island 17,778
South Carolina 192,306
South Dakota 43,725
Tennessee 328,112
Texas 756,770
Utah 422,644
Vermont 20,826
Virginia 258,004
Virgin Islands 690
Washington 278,314
West Virginia 92,488
Wisconsin 275,379
Wyoming 32,857

Click here to see every state ranked by gun sales.