There are over 393 million guns in circulation in the U.S., according to estimates from the Small Arms Survey, far outnumbering the national population of 327 million. In the United States – the only country in the world home to more civilian-owned guns than people – guns are big business.
While the appropriate balance between gun rights and public safety is a hot button political issue, the economics of the firearm industry are less controversial. According to The Firearm Industry Trade Association, guns and ammunition had a total economic impact of over $70.5 billion in 2021 – generating over a billion dollars in tax revenue and providing hundreds of thousands of jobs.
In every state, there are hundreds – if not thousands – of gun stores. Though in some parts of the country, gun stores are far more common than others.
Using data from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, 24/7 Wall St. identified the states with the most gun stores. States are ranked by the number of federally licensed dealers or pawn brokers of firearms as of January 2022 for every 100,000 people.
Geographically, the states with the fewest gun stores are most likely to be in the Northeast, while those with the most gun stores tend to be concentrated in the West. Generally, the states with the most gun stores per capita have more permissive gun laws that place minimal restrictions on gun ownership, while those with the fewest stores typically have tighter gun control laws. (Here is a state-by-state look at gun laws.)
The concentration of gun stores in a given state, perhaps not surprisingly, often reflects demand for firearms. The states with the fewest number of stores per capita are also typically those that, according to FBI background check data, had lower volumes of gun sales in the first half of 2022. (Here is a look at the state selling the fewest guns.)
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