Special Report

47 States Where Gun Sales Fell The Most

The FBI started in the early 1990s to post gun background checks data by state every month. Firearm background checks are often used as a proxy for trends in gun sales, although the FBI notes that they are not a one-to-one comparison, with estimates for 2021 gun sales being roughly half the background check estimates. Background checks nationwide totaled 9,138,123 in 1999. They remained under 10 million until 2006, then surged to a little over 20 million in 2013.

Background checks jumped at an ever faster pace in 2020. There is no single reason for this. One theory is that people were worried about a spike in crime due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That summer was also a period of social unrest. There were 38,876,673 firearm background checks in the U.S. in 2021, down slightly from 39,695,315 checks in 2020.

Background checks — and by most accounts, gun sales — have dropped sharply in 2022 compared to 2021. There have been just over 18.2 million gun checks in the first seven months of the year, down from 25.1 million in the same period last year. 

Even with these drops, America remains the gun capital of the world. There are almost 400 million guns in the U.S — 1.2 per person — which is by far the most among all nations. By contrast, Canada’s figure is 0.34 per person. Gun violence levels in the U.S. are equally staggering. According to the Gun Violence Archive, there were 45,041 gun deaths last year. Slightly more than half of those were suicides. (These are 28 guns used the most to commit crimes in America.)

To determine the states where gun sales fell the most, 24/7 Wall St. listed all 47 states with a reported decline in firearm background checks in the first seven months of 2022 compared to the same period in 2021. States are ranked in order of the numerical decline in background checks, from least to most. Population figures came from the Census Bureau’s 2020 American Community Survey and are five-year averages. (Some states are also more prone to gun theft. Here are the states where themost guns are stolen.)

Click here to see the states where gun sales fell the most.

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