Special Report

This Is the State Selling the Fewest Guns

LOREN ELLIOTT / AFP via Getty Images

Gun sales in America, as estimated by background checks, have fallen sharply this year. This is not due to regulations, which though critical to protecting the population are not in place. Some attribute this decline to a shortage in ammunition. Others say that the anxiety created by COVID-19 and social unrest has waned. 

The state selling the fewest guns is Hawaii, with just over 7,200 background checks performed from January to May 2022. Nationwide, gun sales in the first five months of the year totaled 13,297,409, according to the FBI Firearm Background Check database. This data is often used as a proxy for sales. Last year, the comparable figure was 19,188,484. 

The decline in background checks – and therefore sales – this year compared to 2021 may break a multiyear trend. Gun sales have risen most years since 2010 and reached a record 39,695,315 in 2020. The total barely dropped last year to 38,876,673. 

Despite the decline in sales, gun violence continues to be a regular part of the headlines this year. Murders in American cities spiked last year, particularly in large cities. So far this year, the trend has continued. Some metro areas, such as Milwaukee and Philadelphia, have reported a sharp increase in the number of murders, which in most cases involve guns. (These are the states where the most people are killed by guns.)

Mass murders have surged in places from Buffalo, New York,  and Philadelphia to Uvalde, Texas. A lack of regulation virtually guarantees U.S. gun sales will stay high. (These are the deadliest mass shootings since the Columbine massacre.

According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been 21,782 gun deaths in America in 2022, as of June 30. Even with stricter gun ownership and purchasing laws, the difficult fact is that there are about 400 million guns in the U.S., according to a 2018 report by the Small Arms Survey, a Geneva-based organization. The chance that civilians who own guns will turn them into the government, no matter what the incentive, is small.

National gun sales in May (as estimated by background checks) totaled 2,340,383, down from 3,222,105 in the same period last year. Hawaii, also in May, was the state with the fewest gun sales at 1,334.

To determine the state selling the fewest guns, 24/7 Wall St. ranked states based on the number of firearm background checks initiated in the first five months of 2022, according to the FBI’s the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Population figures came from the Census Bureau’s 2020 American Community Survey and are five-year averages.

Click here to see the state selling the fewest guns

Source: franckreporter / E+ via Getty Images

50. Illinois
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2022: 1,749,327
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2021: 5,285,820 (the most)
> Change in sales, first five months year-to-date: -3,536,493 (-66.9% — the largest decline)
> Population: 12,716,164 (6th largest)

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Source: Sean Pavone / iStock via Getty Images

49. Kentucky
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2022: 1,756,614
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2021: 1,328,162 (2nd most)
> Change in sales, first five months year-to-date: 428,452 (32.3% — the smallest decline)
> Population: 4,461,952 (25th smallest)

Source: Sean Pavone / iStock via Getty Images

48. Indiana
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2022: 542,822
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2021: 1,017,037 (3rd most)
> Change in sales, first five months year-to-date: -474,215 (-46.6% — 2nd largest decline)
> Population: 6,696,893 (17th largest)

Source: Barbara Smyers / iStock via Getty Images

47. Texas
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2022: 705,441
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2021: 915,296 (4th most)
> Change in sales, first five months year-to-date: -209,855 (-22.9% — 22nd smallest decline)
> Population: 28,635,442 (2nd largest)

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Source: frankpeters / iStock via Getty Images

46. Florida
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2022: 611,323
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2021: 804,083 (5th most)
> Change in sales, first five months year-to-date: -192,760 (-24.0% — 23rd largest decline)
> Population: 21,216,924 (3rd largest)

Source: Sean Pavone / iStock via Getty Images

45. Pennsylvania
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2022: 514,706
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2021: 663,784 (6th most)
> Change in sales, first five months year-to-date: -149,078 (-22.5% — 20th smallest decline)
> Population: 12,794,885 (5th largest)

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Source: LordRunar / iStock via Getty Images

44. California
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2022: 567,788
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2021: 643,982 (7th most)
> Change in sales, first five months year-to-date: -76,194 (-11.8% — 6th smallest decline)
> Population: 39,346,023 (the largest)

Source: Kruck20 / iStock via Getty Images

43. Utah
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2022: 419,349
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2021: 535,733 (8th most)
> Change in sales, first five months year-to-date: -116,384 (-21.7% — 16th smallest decline)
> Population: 3,151,239 (21st smallest)

Source: pawel.gaul / E+ via Getty Images

42. Michigan
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2022: 338,699
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2021: 477,863 (9th most)
> Change in sales, first five months year-to-date: -139,164 (-29.1% — 10th largest decline)
> Population: 9,973,907 (10th largest)

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Source: Kruck20 / iStock via Getty Images

41. Alabama
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2022: 315,047
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2021: 442,955 (10th most)
> Change in sales, first five months year-to-date: -127,908 (-28.9% — 11th largest decline)
> Population: 4,893,186 (24th largest)

Source: MattGush / iStock via Getty Images

40. Minnesota
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2022: 391,860
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2021: 436,959 (11th most)
> Change in sales, first five months year-to-date: -45,099 (-10.3% — 5th smallest decline)
> Population: 5,600,166 (22nd largest)

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Source: Sean Pavone / iStock via Getty Images

39. Ohio
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2022: 282,459
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2021: 411,447 (12th most)
> Change in sales, first five months year-to-date: -128,988 (-31.3% — 6th largest decline)
> Population: 11,675,275 (7th largest)

Source: Kruck20 / iStock via Getty Images

38. Georgia
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2022: 255,673
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2021: 401,468 (13th most)
> Change in sales, first five months year-to-date: -145,795 (-36.3% — 5th largest decline)
> Population: 10,516,579 (8th largest)

Source: Kruck20 / iStock via Getty Images

37. Tennessee
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2022: 353,163
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2021: 391,629 (14th most)
> Change in sales, first five months year-to-date: -38,466 (-9.8% — 4th smallest decline)
> Population: 6,772,268 (16th largest)

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Source: Kruck20 / iStock via Getty Images

36. North Carolina
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2022: 266,005
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2021: 381,625 (15th most)
> Change in sales, first five months year-to-date: -115,620 (-30.3% — 7th largest decline)
> Population: 10,386,227 (9th largest)

Source: Sean Pavone / iStock via Getty Images

35. Wisconsin
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2022: 269,415
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2021: 335,608 (16th most)
> Change in sales, first five months year-to-date: -66,193 (-19.7% — 10th smallest decline)
> Population: 5,806,975 (20th largest)

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Source: SEASTOCK / iStock via Getty Images

34. Washington
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2022: 319,069
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2021: 334,352 (17th most)
> Change in sales, first five months year-to-date: -15,283 (-4.6% — 3rd smallest decline)
> Population: 7,512,465 (13th largest)

Source: Harlow Chandler / iStock via Getty Images

33. Virginia
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2022: 231,809
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2021: 304,771 (18th most)
> Change in sales, first five months year-to-date: -72,962 (-23.9% — 24th largest decline)
> Population: 8,509,358 (12th largest)

Source: f11photo / iStock via Getty Images

32. Missouri
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2022: 220,528
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2021: 303,869 (19th most)
> Change in sales, first five months year-to-date: -83,341 (-27.4% — 14th largest decline)
> Population: 6,124,160 (18th largest)

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Source: btimages / iStock via Getty Images

31. Colorado
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2022: 221,281
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2021: 296,290 (20th most)
> Change in sales, first five months year-to-date: -75,009 (-25.3% — 20th largest decline)
> Population: 5,684,926 (21st largest)

Source: Davel5957 / iStock via Getty Images

30. Arizona
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2022: 226,540
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2021: 284,260 (21st most)
> Change in sales, first five months year-to-date: -57,720 (-20.3% — 11th smallest decline)
> Population: 7,174,064 (14th largest)

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Source: Kruck20 / iStock via Getty Images

29. South Carolina
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2022: 174,124
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2021: 229,324 (22nd most)
> Change in sales, first five months year-to-date: -55,200 (-24.1% — 22nd largest decline)
> Population: 5,091,517 (23rd largest)

Source: DenisTangneyJr / iStock via Getty Images

28. New York
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2022: 173,230
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2021: 211,575 (23rd most)
> Change in sales, first five months year-to-date: -38,345 (-18.1% — 7th smallest decline)
> Population: 19,514,849 (4th largest)

Source: Sean Pavone / iStock via Getty Images

27. Oregon
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2022: 166,251
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2021: 211,203 (24th most)
> Change in sales, first five months year-to-date: -44,952 (-21.3% — 14th smallest decline)
> Population: 4,176,346 (24th smallest)

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Source: Davel5957 / E+ via Getty Images

26. Oklahoma
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2022: 149,219
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2021: 193,624 (25th most)
> Change in sales, first five months year-to-date: -44,405 (-22.9% — 23rd smallest decline)
> Population: 3,949,342 (23rd smallest)

Source: Sean Pavone / iStock via Getty Images

25. Louisiana
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2022: 143,606
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2021: 180,389 (25th least)
> Change in sales, first five months year-to-date: -36,783 (-20.4% — 12th smallest decline)
> Population: 4,664,616 (25th largest)

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Source: SeanPavonePhoto / iStock via Getty Images

24. Mississippi
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2022: 114,496
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2021: 146,357 (24th least)
> Change in sales, first five months year-to-date: -31,861 (-21.8% — 17th smallest decline)
> Population: 2,981,835 (17th smallest)

Source: harmantasdc / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

23. Iowa
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2022: 111,253
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2021: 138,091 (23rd least)
> Change in sales, first five months year-to-date: -26,838 (-19.4% — 9th smallest decline)
> Population: 3,150,011 (20th smallest)

Source: Jon Bilous / iStock via Getty Images

22. Connecticut
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2022: 109,010
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2021: 137,901 (22nd least)
> Change in sales, first five months year-to-date: -28,891 (-21.0% — 13th smallest decline)
> Population: 3,570,549 (22nd smallest)

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Source: BlazenImages / iStock via Getty Images

21. Arkansas
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2022: 94,977
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2021: 134,293 (21st least)
> Change in sales, first five months year-to-date: -39,316 (-29.3% — 9th largest decline)
> Population: 3,011,873 (18th smallest)

Source: Kruck20 / iStock via Getty Images

20. Maryland
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2022: 95,330
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2021: 132,269 (20th least)
> Change in sales, first five months year-to-date: -36,939 (-27.9% — 13th largest decline)
> Population: 6,037,624 (19th largest)

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Source: vkbhat / E+ via Getty Images

19. Idaho
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2022: 98,660
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2021: 129,270 (19th least)
> Change in sales, first five months year-to-date: -30,610 (-23.7% — 25th largest decline)
> Population: 1,754,367 (12th smallest)

Source: SeanPavonePhoto / iStock via Getty Images

18. Massachusetts
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2022: 94,965
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2021: 124,141 (18th least)
> Change in sales, first five months year-to-date: -29,176 (-23.5% — 24th smallest decline)
> Population: 6,873,003 (15th largest)

Source: ChrisBoswell / iStock via Getty Images

17. New Jersey
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2022: 68,247
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2021: 118,032 (17th least)
> Change in sales, first five months year-to-date: -49,785 (-42.2% — 3rd largest decline)
> Population: 8,885,418 (11th largest)

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Source: Sean Pavone / iStock via Getty Images

16. Kansas
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2022: 79,305
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2021: 106,760 (16th least)
> Change in sales, first five months year-to-date: -27,455 (-25.7% — 19th largest decline)
> Population: 2,912,619 (16th smallest)

Source: ChrisBoswell / iStock via Getty Images

15. West Virginia
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2022: 78,068
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2021: 106,510 (15th least)
> Change in sales, first five months year-to-date: -28,442 (-26.7% — 16th largest decline)
> Population: 1,807,426 (13th smallest)

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Source: Sean Pavone / iStock via Getty Images

14. New Mexico
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2022: 72,062
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2021: 92,142 (14th least)
> Change in sales, first five months year-to-date: -20,080 (-21.8% — 18th smallest decline)
> Population: 2,097,021 (15th smallest)

Source: photoquest7 / iStock via Getty Images

13. Nevada
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2022: 64,785
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2021: 90,835 (13th least)
> Change in sales, first five months year-to-date: -26,050 (-28.7% — 12th largest decline)
> Population: 3,030,281 (19th smallest)

Source: HaizhanZheng / E+ via Getty Images

12. Montana
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2022: 58,310
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2021: 74,892 (12th least)
> Change in sales, first five months year-to-date: -16,582 (-22.1% — 19th smallest decline)
> Population: 1,061,705 (8th smallest)

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Source: Sean Pavone / iStock via Getty Images

11. New Hampshire
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2022: 54,476
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2021: 74,653 (11th least)
> Change in sales, first five months year-to-date: -20,177 (-27.0% — 15th largest decline)
> Population: 1,355,244 (10th smallest)

Source: Ultima_Gaina / iStock via Getty Images

10. Maine
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2022: 44,111
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2021: 57,104 (10th least)
> Change in sales, first five months year-to-date: -12,993 (-22.8% — 21st smallest decline)
> Population: 1,340,825 (9th smallest)

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Source: Jacob Boomsma / iStock via Getty Images

9. South Dakota
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2022: 35,773
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2021: 51,000 (9th least)
> Change in sales, first five months year-to-date: -15,227 (-29.9% — 8th largest decline)
> Population: 879,336 (5th smallest)

Source: ChrisBoswell / iStock via Getty Images

8. Nebraska
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2022: 32,632
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2021: 44,133 (8th least)
> Change in sales, first five months year-to-date: -11,501 (-26.1% — 17th largest decline)
> Population: 1,923,826 (14th smallest)

Source: Jacob Boomsma / iStock via Getty Images

7. Alaska
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2022: 32,938
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2021: 42,078 (7th least)
> Change in sales, first five months year-to-date: -9,140 (-21.7% — 15th smallest decline)
> Population: 736,990 (3rd smallest)

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Source: DenisTangneyJr / E+ via Getty Images

6. Wyoming
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2022: 29,093
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2021: 39,238 (6th least)
> Change in sales, first five months year-to-date: -10,145 (-25.9% — 18th largest decline)
> Population: 581,348 (the smallest)

Source: DenisTangneyJr / iStock via Getty Images

5. North Dakota
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2022: 29,999
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2021: 37,071 (5th least)
> Change in sales, first five months year-to-date: -7,072 (-19.1% — 8th smallest decline)
> Population: 760,394 (4th smallest)

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Source: DenisTangneyJr / iStock via Getty Images

4. Delaware
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2022: 24,711
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2021: 32,755 (4th least)
> Change in sales, first five months year-to-date: -8,044 (-24.6% — 21st largest decline)
> Population: 967,679 (6th smallest)

Source: SeanPavonePhoto / iStock via Getty Images

3. Vermont
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2022: 18,627
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2021: 24,377 (3rd least)
> Change in sales, first five months year-to-date: -5,750 (-23.6% — 25th smallest decline)
> Population: 624,340 (2nd smallest)

Source: SeanPavonePhoto / iStock via Getty Images

2. Rhode Island
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2022: 12,274
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2021: 20,426 (2nd least)
> Change in sales, first five months year-to-date: -8,152 (-39.9% — 4th largest decline)
> Population: 1,057,798 (7th smallest)

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Source: P_L_photography / iStock via Getty Images

1. Hawaii
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2022: 7,256
> Firearm background checks Jan-May 2021: 7,307 (the least)
> Change in sales, first five months year-to-date: -51 (-0.7% — 2nd smallest decline)
> Population: 1,420,074 (11th smallest)

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