Special Report

This Is the State Selling the Fewest Guns

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

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