Guns and Hunting

The State with the Biggest Gun Trafficking Problem: All 50 States Ranked

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Guns and their legal ownership have been heavy topics of discussion among Americans for decades. In 2021, 48,830 Americans lost their lives due to firearms. In 2023, America witnessed 656 mass shootings. As gun violence and public shootings become more common, many citizens fight for restrictions on firearms, including background checks and limits on assault weapons. Illegally trafficked guns are a large part of this discussion, as they contribute to violence and death throughout the country, as well as abroad.

Each state has its own gun-related policies, and these differing regulations have contributed to illegal trafficking of deadly weapons, as revealed by firearm tracing data from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF).

All weapons confiscated at a crime scene are searched for serial numbers. These identification markers can reveal when and where guns were purchased. In 2022, firearm tracing by ATF showed one-quarter of almost 400,000 guns were found outside the original purchasing state.

Ranking all 50 states, 24/7 Wall St. identified the states with the biggest gun trafficking problems in 2022, according to firearm tracing data from the ATF. Rankings were based on the number of recovered guns that were determined to have come from out of state. The number of firearms moved across state lines was more than 80% in some states.

Generally, states with strict gun laws see the most gun-trafficking. For example, more than 1,000 guns were bought in Georgia (a state with no universal background checks) and recovered in New York (a state which places serious restrictions on guns). Gun violence prevention group Giffords Law Center assigned eight of the 10 top ranking states on this list a letter grade of either “A” or “A-” for the strength of their gun laws. (Here is a look at every state’s grade on gun laws.)

Why We Are Covering Gun Trafficking

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Gun regulations in the United States have been a major issue, dividing party lines for decades. They continue to be a huge point of contention during election periods. Gun trafficking across state lines is a large piece of the puzzle when it comes to weapons violence in America. The nation continues to see a rise in public shootings, tragically many of which involve schools and children. Without access to guns, states with strict gun control may seem like safer places to live. However, if a gun can be easily purchased in a nearby state and carried over, such laws seem to be rendered meaningless.

50. Alaska

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In 2022, Alaskan law enforcement found 134 out of 1,040 traced firearms from out of state. This number comprised 12.9% of guns traced. Guns were trafficked from Washington (17 firearms), California (12 firearms), and Arizona (7 firearms). Alaska’s gun law strength receives a grade of F.

49. Texas

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Texas law enforcement found 6,610 out of 48,632 traced firearms from out of state in 2022. This number comprised 13.6% of guns traced. Guns were trafficked from Louisiana (1,273 firearms), Oklahoma (480 firearms), and Mississippi (452 firearms). Texas gun law strength receives a grade of F.

48. Ohio

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In 2022, Ohio law enforcement found 2,618 out of 17,477 traced firearms from out of state. This number comprised 15% of guns traced. Guns were trafficked from Kentucky (484 firearms), Indiana (232 firearms), and West Virginia (219 firearms). Ohio gun law strength receives a grade of D-.

47. Wisconsin

Wisconsin law enforcement found 1,065 out of 6,872 traced firearms from out of state in 2022. This number comprised 15.5% of guns traced. Guns were trafficked from Illinois (168 firearms), Indiana (89 firearms), and Wisconsin (78 firearms). Wisconsin gun law strength receives a grade of C.

46. Virginia

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In 2022, Virginia law enforcement found 1,864 out of 11,909 traced firearms from out of state. This number comprised 15.7% of guns traced. Guns were trafficked from North Carolina (293 firearms), Florida (165 firearms), and West Virginia (158 firearms). Virginia gun law strength receives a grade of B+.

45. Indiana

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Indiana law enforcement found 1,554 out of 9,434 traced firearms from out of state in 2022. This number comprised 16.5% of guns traced. Guns were trafficked from Kentucky (278 firearms), Illinois (208 firearms), and Ohio (162 firearms). Indiana gun law strength receives a grade of D-.

44. Arizona

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In 2022, Arizona law enforcement found 1,972 out of 11,885 traced firearms from out of state. This number comprised 16.6% of guns traced. Guns were trafficked from California (200 firearms), Texas (186 firearms), and New Mexico (163 firearms). Arizona gun law strength receives a grade of F.

43. Alabama

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In 2022, Alabama law enforcement found 1,567 out of 9,087 traced firearms from out of state. This number comprised 17.2% of guns traced. Guns were trafficked from Georgia (343 firearms), Mississippi (263 firearms), and Florida (185 firearms). Alabama gun law strength receives a grade of F.

42. Georgia

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Georgia law enforcement found 3,581 out of 20,011 traced firearms from out of state in 2022. This number comprised 17.9% of guns traced. Guns were trafficked from Alabama (575 firearms), Florida (519 firearms), and South Carolina (500 firearms). Georgia gun law strength receives a grade of F.

41. Missouri

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In 2022, Missouri law enforcement found 1,709 out of 8,845 traced firearms from out of state. This number comprised 19.3% of guns traced. Guns were trafficked from Kansas (512 firearms), Illinois (246 firearms), and Texas (111 firearms). Missouri gun law strength receives a grade of F.

40. Louisiana

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Louisiana law enforcement found 2,629 out of 13,468 traced firearms from out of state in 2022. This number comprised 19.5% of guns traced. Guns were trafficked from Texas (857 firearms), Mississippi (520 firearms), and Georgia (154 firearms). Louisiana gun law strength receives a grade of F.

39. South Carolina

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In 2022, South Carolina law enforcement found 2,084 out of 10,331 traced firearms from out of state. This number comprised 20.2% of guns traced. Guns were trafficked from North Carolina (550 firearms), Georgia (477 firearms), and Florida (129 firearms). South Carolina gun law strength receives a grade of D-.

38. Florida

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In 2022, Florida law enforcement found 6,150 out of 30,327 traced firearms from out of state. This number comprised 20.3% of guns traced. Guns were trafficked from Georgia (1,214 firearms), Alabama (560 firearms), and Texas (437 firearms). Florida gun law strength receives a grade of D+.

37. Arkansas

Arkansas law enforcement found 602 out of 2,876 traced firearms from out of state in 2022. This number comprised 20.9% of guns traced. Guns were trafficked from Texas (126 firearms), Tennessee (84 firearms), and Mississippi (58 firearms). Arkansas gun law strength receives a grade of F.

36. Pennsylvania

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In 2022, Pennsylvania law enforcement found 2,701 out of 12,772 traced firearms from out of state. This number comprised 21.1% of guns traced. Guns were trafficked from Georgia (324 firearms), Virginia (271 firearms), and Ohio (256 firearms). Pennsylvania gun law strength receives a grade of B.

35. New Mexico

New Mexico law enforcement found 674 out of 3,181 traced firearms from out of state in 2022. This number comprised 21.2% of guns traced. Guns were trafficked from Texas (184 firearms), Arizona (97 firearms), and Colorado (57 firearms). New Mexico gun law strength receives a grade of C+.

34. Oklahoma

In 2022, Oklahoma law enforcement found 1,033 out of 4,749 traced firearms from out of state. This number comprised 21.8% of guns traced. Guns were trafficked from Texas (273 firearms), Arkansas (96 firearms), and Kansas (90 firearms). Oklahoma gun law strength receives a grade of F.

33. New Hampshire

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New Hampshire law enforcement found 126 out of 579 traced firearms from out of state in 2022. This number comprised 21.8% of guns traced. Guns were trafficked from Maine (25 firearms), Massachusetts (22 firearms), and Vermont (11 firearms). New Hampshire gun law strength receives a grade of D-.

32. Michigan

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In 2022, Michigan law enforcement found 1,910 out of 8,746 traced firearms from out of state. This number comprised 21.8% of guns traced. Guns were trafficked from Ohio (268 firearms), Illinois (219 firearms), and Kentucky (175 firearms). Michigan gun law strength receives a grade of B-.

31. Iowa

In 2022, Iowa law enforcement found 610 out of 2,738 traced firearms from out of state. This number comprised 22.3% of guns traced. Guns were trafficked from Illinois (83 firearms), Texas (48 firearms), and Missouri (46 firearms). Iowa gun law strength receives a grade of F.

30. Mississippi

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Mississippi law enforcement found 1,071 out of 4,625 traced firearms from out of state in 2022. This number comprised 23.2% of guns traced. Guns were trafficked from Tennessee (272 firearms), Louisiana (199 firearms), and Alabama (133 firearms). Mississippi gun law strength receives a grade of F.

29. Kentucky

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Kentucky law enforcement found 1,413 out of 6,067 traced firearms from out of state. This number comprised 23.3% of guns traced. Guns were trafficked from Indiana (308 firearms), Ohio (226 firearms), and Tennessee (191 firearms). Kentucky gun law strength receives a grade of F.

28. North Carolina

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North Carolina law enforcement found 5,099 out of 20,737 traced firearms from out of state in 2022. This number comprised 24.6% of guns traced. Guns were trafficked from South Carolina (1,411 firearms), Virginia (801 firearms), and Georgia (533 firearms). North Carolina gun law strength receives a grade of C-.

27. Utah

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In 2022, Utah law enforcement found 711 out of 2,888 traced firearms from out of state. This number comprised 24.6% of guns traced. Guns were trafficked from Nevada (80 firearms), Colorado (54 firearms), and Idaho (52 firearms). Utah gun law strength receives a grade of F.

26. Oregon

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Oregon law enforcement found 1,084 out of 4,263 traced firearms from out of state in 2022. This number comprised 25.4% of guns traced. Guns were trafficked from Washington (315 firearms), California (135 firearms), and Idaho (113 firearms). Oregon gun law strength receives a grade of A-.

25. Colorado

Colorado law enforcement found 1,686 out of 6,528 traced firearms from out of state in 2022. This number comprised 25.8% of guns traced. Guns were trafficked from Texas (273 firearms), Florida (105 firearms), and Wyoming (100 firearms). Colorado gun law strength receives a grade of A-.

24. Minnesota

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In 2022, Minnesota law enforcement found 1,073 out of 4,081 traced firearms from out of state. This number comprised 26.3% of guns traced. Guns were trafficked from Wisconsin (176 firearms), North Dakota (91 firearms), and Texas (75 firearms). Minnesota gun law strength receives a grade of B.

23. West Virginia

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West Virginia law enforcement found 450 out of 1,677 traced firearms from out of state in 2022. This number comprised 26.8% of guns traced. Guns were trafficked from Ohio (109 firearms), Kentucky (51 firearms), and Virginia (48 firearms). West Virginia gun law strength receives a grade of F.

22. Washington

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In 2022, Washington law enforcement found 1,295 out of 4,777 traced firearms from out of state. This number comprised 27.1% of guns traced. Guns were trafficked from Oregon (279 firearms), Idaho (161 firearms), and Montana (109 firearms). Washington gun law strength receives a grade of A-.

21. Vermont

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Vermont law enforcement found 62 out of 228 traced firearms from out of state in 2022. This number comprised 27.2% of guns traced. Guns were trafficked from New Hampshire (25 firearms), Florida (6 firearms), and Connecticut (4 firearms). Vermont gun law strength receives a grade of B-.

20. Nevada

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In 2022, Nevada law enforcement found 1,403 out of 4,894 traced firearms from out of state. This number comprised 28.7% of guns traced. Guns were trafficked from California (259 firearms), Arizona (240 firearms), and Texas (110 firearms). Nevada gun law strength receives a grade of B-.

19. Montana

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Montana law enforcement found 290 out of 1,006 traced firearms from out of state in 2022. This number comprised 28.8% of guns traced. Guns were trafficked from Washington (30 firearms), Wyoming (27 firearms), and North Dakota (22 firearms). Montana gun law strength receives a grade of F.

18. Tennessee

Tennessee gun show gun shop | Pistol for sale in a gun store
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In 2022, Tennessee law enforcement found 4,044 out of 14,023 traced firearms from out of state. This number comprised 28.8% of guns traced. Guns were trafficked from Mississippi (1,096 firearms), Georgia (525 firearms), and Alabama (296 firearms). Tennessee gun law strength receives a grade of F.

17. Maine

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Maine law enforcement found 153 out of 524 traced firearms from out of state in 2022. This number comprised 29.2% of guns traced. Guns were trafficked from New Hampshire (31 firearms), Massachusetts (23 firearms), and Florida (14 firearms). Maine gun law strength receives a grade of D-.

16. Kansas

In 2022, Kansas law enforcement found 1,145 out of 3,823 traced firearms from out of state. This number comprised 30% of guns traced. Guns were trafficked from Missouri (551 firearms), Oklahoma (89 firearms), and Texas (82 firearms). Kansas gun law strength receives a grade of F.

15. Delaware

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In 2022, Delaware law enforcement found 426 out of 1,369 traced firearms from out of state. This number comprised 31.1% of guns traced. Guns were trafficked from Pennsylvania (132 firearms), Georgia (46 firearms), and Virginia (43 firearms). Delaware gun law strength receives a grade of B+.

14. Idaho

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In 2022, Idaho law enforcement found 382 out of 1,222 traced firearms from out of state. This number comprised 31.3% of guns traced. Guns were trafficked from Washington (61 firearms), Oregon (59 firearms), and California (49 firearms). Idaho gun law strength receives a grade of F.

13. South Dakota

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South Dakota law enforcement found 230 out of 709 traced firearms from out of state in 2022. This number comprised 32.4% of guns traced. Guns were trafficked from Nebraska (22 firearms) and Colorado (15 firearms). South Dakota gun law strength receives a grade of F.

12. North Dakota

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In 2022, North Dakota law enforcement found 245 out of 706 traced firearms from out of state. This number comprised 34.7% of guns traced. Guns were trafficked from Minnesota (37 firearms), Texas (22 firearms), and Montana (21 firearms). North Dakota gun law strength receives a grade of F.

11. Rhode Island

In 2022, Rhode Island law enforcement found 288 out of 803 traced firearms from out of state. This number comprised 35.9% of guns traced. Guns were trafficked from Massachusetts (36 firearms), Georgia (29 firearms), and Virginia (25 firearms). Rhode Island gun law strength receives a grade of B+.

10. Nebraska

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Nebraska law enforcement found 660 out of 1,820 traced firearms from out of state in 2022. This number comprised 36.3% of guns traced. Guns were trafficked from Iowa (148 firearms), Missouri (51 firearms), and Texas (50 firearms). Nebraska gun law strength receives a grade of C-.

9. California

Gunmaker Smith & Wesson Reports Drop In Quarterly Earnings
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In 2022, California law enforcement found 16,073 out of 33,304 traced firearms from out of state. This number comprised 48.3% of guns traced. Guns were trafficked from Arizona (4,512 firearms), Nevada (2,309 firearms), and Texas (1,667 firearms). California gun law strength receives a grade of A.

8. Wyoming

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Wyoming law enforcement found 129 out of 261 traced firearms from out of state in 2022. This number comprised 49.4% of guns traced. Guns were trafficked from Colorado (25 firearms), Florida (12 firearms), and Texas (10 firearms). Wyoming gun law strength receives a grade of F.

7. Illinois

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In 2022, Illinois law enforcement found 7,874 of 15,353 traced firearms from out of state. This number comprised 51.3% of guns traced. Guns were trafficked from Indiana (2,521 firearms), Missouri (1,005 firearms), and Wisconsin (650 firearms). Illinois gun law strength receives a grade of A-.

6. Hawaii

In 2022, Hawaii law enforcement found 76 out of 147 traced firearms from out of state. This number comprised 51.7% of guns traced. Guns were trafficked from California (12 firearms), Washington (10 firearms), and Virgina (7 firearms). Hawaii gun law strength receives a grade of A-.

5. Maryland

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In 2022, Maryland law enforcement found 4,044 out of 7,103 traced firearms from out of state. This number comprised 56.9% of guns traced. Guns were trafficked from Virgina (1,172 firearms), Georgia (411 firearms), and North Carolina (318 firearms). Maryland gun law strength receives a grade of A-.

4. Connecticut

Gun Show Held In Las Vegas
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Connecticut law enforcement found 805 out of 1,351 traced firearms from out of state in 2022. This number comprised 59.6% of guns traced. Guns were trafficked from Georgia (109 firearms), South Carolina (90 firearms), and Florida (88 firearms). Connecticut gun law strength receives a grade of A.

3. Massachusetts

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In 2022, Massachusetts law enforcement found 1,504 out of 2,381 traced firearms from out of state. This number comprised 63.2% of guns traced. Guns were trafficked from New Hampshire (291 firearms), Maine (205 firearms), and Florida (135 firearms). Massachusetts gun law strength receives a grade of A-.

2. New York

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In 2022, New York law enforcement found 6,620 out of 8,158 traced firearms from out of state. This number comprised 81.1% of guns traced. Guns were trafficked from Georgia (1,008 firearms), Virginia (684 firearms), and Florida (652 firearms). New York gun law strength receives a grade of A-.

1. New Jersey

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In 2022, New Jersey law enforcement found 2,927 out of 3,536 traced firearms from out of state. This number comprised 82.8% of guns traced. Guns were trafficked from Pennsylvania (617 firearms), Georgia (469 firearms), and Virginia (321 firearms). New Jersey gun law strength receives a grade of A.

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