Special Report

The States With the Fastest Increases in Gun Deaths

carlballou / iStock via Getty Images

A total of 45,222 people were killed by a firearm in the United States in 2020, the most recent year of available data – up from about 40,000 in 2019, and a 25% increase from 2015. Only three states – Hawaii, New Jersey, and Alaska – reported a decline in deaths resulting from a firearm injury between 2015 and 2020, and in 14 states, firearm deaths rose by at least 30% over that period. 

Using data from the CDC, 24/7 Wall St. identified the states where gun deaths are increasing the fastest. We included only the 47 states reporting an increase, and those states are ranked by the percentage increase in the number of deaths resulting from firearm-related injuries between 2015 and 2020. We included firearm background checks, used as a proxy for gun sales.

The states with the largest spikes in gun deaths are disproportionately concentrated in the South, while the states with smallest upticks are mostly in the Northeast. The states with the largest spikes in firearm deaths also tend to have higher than average firearm death rates (deaths adjusted per capita), and many of them have also reported some of the largest increases in firearm sales in recent years. (Here is a look at America’s most dangerous states.)

While mass shootings garner the most media attention, they represent only a small share of total gun deaths in the United States. Most firearm-related deaths are suicides (54% in 2020), and the majority of the remaining fatalities are homicides not classified as mass shootings. Still, it is important to note that there has been an average of more than one mass shooting per day this year. 

Click here to see states where gun deaths are increasing fastest.

Click here to see our detailed methodology.

Source: DOMINICK REUTER / AFP via Getty Images

47. New Hampshire
> Chg. in firearm deaths, 2015-2020: +5.8% (121 to 128)
> 2020 firearm mortality rate: 8.9 per 100,000 — 9th lowest
> 2015 firearm mortality rate: 8.9 per 100,000 — 11th lowest
> Chg. in firearm background checks, 2015-2020: +27.7% — 11th smallest increase (136,816 to 174,662)
> Population: 1,377,529 — 10th smallest

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Source: gregobagel / iStock via Getty Images

46. Rhode Island
> Chg. in firearm deaths, 2015-2020: +5.9% (51 to 54)
> 2020 firearm mortality rate: 5.1 per 100,000 — 4th lowest
> 2015 firearm mortality rate: 4.7 per 100,000 — 4th lowest
> Chg. in firearm background checks, 2015-2020: +132.1% — 4th largest increase (22,129 to 51,369)
> Population: 1,097,379 — 8th smallest

Source: Portland Press Herald / Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

45. Maine
> Chg. in firearm deaths, 2015-2020: +6.3% (144 to 153)
> 2020 firearm mortality rate: 10.4 per 100,000 — 11th lowest
> 2015 firearm mortality rate: 9.8 per 100,000 — 15th lowest
> Chg. in firearm background checks, 2015-2020: +44.8% — 19th smallest increase (94,744 to 137,149)
> Population: 1,362,359 — 9th smallest

Source: DenisTangneyJr / E+ via Getty Images

44. Vermont
> Chg. in firearm deaths, 2015-2020: +8.6% (70 to 76)
> 2020 firearm mortality rate: 11.6 per 100,000 — 14th lowest
> 2015 firearm mortality rate: 9.6 per 100,000 — 13th lowest
> Chg. in firearm background checks, 2015-2020: +67.6% — 16th largest increase (34,588 to 57,965)
> Population: 643,077 — 2nd smallest

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Source: Mike Kemp / In Pictures via Getty Images

43. North Dakota
> Chg. in firearm deaths, 2015-2020: +8.7% (92 to 100)
> 2020 firearm mortality rate: 13.8 per 100,000 — 23rd lowest
> 2015 firearm mortality rate: 12.8 per 100,000 — 19th highest
> Chg. in firearm background checks, 2015-2020: +23.1% — 9th smallest increase (69,429 to 85,465)
> Population: 779,094 — 4th smallest

Source: MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images / MediaNews Group via Getty Images

42. California
> Chg. in firearm deaths, 2015-2020: +11.4% (3,095 to 3,449)
> 2020 firearm mortality rate: 8.5 per 100,000 — 7th lowest
> 2015 firearm mortality rate: 7.7 per 100,000 — 8th lowest
> Chg. in firearm background checks, 2015-2020: -9.1% — 2nd smallest increase (1,761,079 to 1,601,054)
> Population: 39,538,223 — the largest

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Source: Anadolu Agency / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

41. Maryland
> Chg. in firearm deaths, 2015-2020: +13.4% (708 to 803)
> 2020 firearm mortality rate: 13.5 per 100,000 — 18th lowest
> 2015 firearm mortality rate: 11.9 per 100,000 — 25th lowest
> Chg. in firearm background checks, 2015-2020: +140.7% — 3rd largest increase (125,694 to 302,563)
> Population: 6,177,224 — 18th largest

Source: JOE KLAMAR / AFP via Getty Images

40. Connecticut
> Chg. in firearm deaths, 2015-2020: +15.9% (189 to 219)
> 2020 firearm mortality rate: 6.0 per 100,000 — 6th lowest
> 2015 firearm mortality rate: 5.3 per 100,000 — 5th lowest
> Chg. in firearm background checks, 2015-2020: -28.8% — the smallest increase (307,750 to 219,227)
> Population: 3,605,944 — 22nd smallest

39. Montana
> Chg. in firearm deaths, 2015-2020: +16.1% (205 to 238)
> 2020 firearm mortality rate: 20.9 per 100,000 — 11th highest
> 2015 firearm mortality rate: 19.2 per 100,000 — 6th highest
> Chg. in firearm background checks, 2015-2020: +35.2% — 17th smallest increase (127,705 to 172,695)
> Population: 1,084,225 — 7th smallest

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Source: Davel5957 / iStock via Getty Images

38. Nebraska
> Chg. in firearm deaths, 2015-2020: +16.6% (169 to 197)
> 2020 firearm mortality rate: 10.1 per 100,000 — 10th lowest
> 2015 firearm mortality rate: 8.9 per 100,000 — 11th lowest
> Chg. in firearm background checks, 2015-2020: +31.7% — 15th smallest increase (79,340 to 104,511)
> Population: 1,961,504 — 14th smallest

Source: GEORGE FREY / AFP via Getty Images

37. Utah
> Chg. in firearm deaths, 2015-2020: +16.9% (367 to 429)
> 2020 firearm mortality rate: 13.6 per 100,000 — 21st lowest
> 2015 firearm mortality rate: 12.8 per 100,000 — 19th highest
> Chg. in firearm background checks, 2015-2020: +377.5% — 2nd largest increase (254,814 to 1,216,773)
> Population: 3,271,616 — 21st smallest

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Source: jfbenning / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

36. West Virginia
> Chg. in firearm deaths, 2015-2020: +16.9% (278 to 325)
> 2020 firearm mortality rate: 18.1 per 100,000 — 14th highest
> 2015 firearm mortality rate: 14.0 per 100,000 — 17th highest
> Chg. in firearm background checks, 2015-2020: +6.7% — 4th smallest increase (249,014 to 265,705)
> Population: 1,793,716 — 12th smallest

Source: filo / iStock via Getty Images

35. Wisconsin
> Chg. in firearm deaths, 2015-2020: +17.0% (613 to 717)
> 2020 firearm mortality rate: 12.2 per 100,000 — 15th lowest
> 2015 firearm mortality rate: 10.4 per 100,000 — 16th lowest
> Chg. in firearm background checks, 2015-2020: +90.9% — 9th largest increase (383,280 to 731,618)
> Population: 5,893,718 — 20th largest

34. Oklahoma
> Chg. in firearm deaths, 2015-2020: +17.0% (706 to 826)
> 2020 firearm mortality rate: 20.7 per 100,000 — 12th highest
> 2015 firearm mortality rate: 18.0 per 100,000 — 9th highest
> Chg. in firearm background checks, 2015-2020: +30.9% — 13th smallest increase (359,276 to 470,286)
> Population: 3,959,353 — 23rd smallest

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Source: The Washington Post / The Washington Post via Getty Images

33. Pennsylvania
> Chg. in firearm deaths, 2015-2020: +18.0% (1,485 to 1,752)
> 2020 firearm mortality rate: 13.6 per 100,000 — 21st lowest
> 2015 firearm mortality rate: 11.4 per 100,000 — 21st lowest
> Chg. in firearm background checks, 2015-2020: +46.3% — 21st smallest increase (993,429 to 1,452,921)
> Population: 13,002,700 — 5th largest

Source: Joe Raedle / Getty Images News via Getty Images

32. Florida
> Chg. in firearm deaths, 2015-2020: +18.8% (2,559 to 3,041)
> 2020 firearm mortality rate: 13.7 per 100,000 — 22nd lowest
> 2015 firearm mortality rate: 12.0 per 100,000 — 25th highest
> Chg. in firearm background checks, 2015-2020: +66.7% — 18th largest increase (1,147,082 to 1,912,204)
> Population: 21,538,187 — 3rd largest

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Source: porkypig / Flickr

31. Alabama
> Chg. in firearm deaths, 2015-2020: +19.1% (958 to 1,141)
> 2020 firearm mortality rate: 23.6 per 100,000 — 5th highest
> 2015 firearm mortality rate: 19.6 per 100,000 — 3rd highest
> Chg. in firearm background checks, 2015-2020: +47.2% — 24th smallest increase (737,509 to 1,085,475)
> Population: 5,024,279 — 24th largest

Source: Joe Raedle / Getty Images News via Getty Images

30. Washington
> Chg. in firearm deaths, 2015-2020: +20.3% (718 to 864)
> 2020 firearm mortality rate: 10.9 per 100,000 — 12th lowest
> 2015 firearm mortality rate: 9.8 per 100,000 — 15th lowest
> Chg. in firearm background checks, 2015-2020: +55.6% — 22nd largest increase (502,280 to 781,471)
> Population: 7,705,281 — 13th largest

Source: DenisTangneyJr / E+ via Getty Images

29. Delaware
> Chg. in firearm deaths, 2015-2020: +20.5% (112 to 135)
> 2020 firearm mortality rate: 14.4 per 100,000 — 25th highest
> 2015 firearm mortality rate: 12.1 per 100,000 — 24th highest
> Chg. in firearm background checks, 2015-2020: +52.8% — 23rd largest increase (50,416 to 77,057)
> Population: 989,948 — 6th smallest

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Source: ROB KERR / AFP via Getty Images

28. Oregon
> Chg. in firearm deaths, 2015-2020: +21.8% (486 to 592)
> 2020 firearm mortality rate: 13.0 per 100,000 — 16th lowest
> 2015 firearm mortality rate: 11.4 per 100,000 — 21st lowest
> Chg. in firearm background checks, 2015-2020: +86.9% — 10th largest increase (276,126 to 516,096)
> Population: 4,237,256 — 24th smallest

27. Nevada
> Chg. in firearm deaths, 2015-2020: +22.6% (446 to 547)
> 2020 firearm mortality rate: 17.0 per 100,000 — 18th highest
> 2015 firearm mortality rate: 14.9 per 100,000 — 14th highest
> Chg. in firearm background checks, 2015-2020: +72.1% — 15th largest increase (127,480 to 219,349)
> Population: 3,104,614 — 19th smallest

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26. New Mexico
> Chg. in firearm deaths, 2015-2020: +22.8% (390 to 479)
> 2020 firearm mortality rate: 22.7 per 100,000 — 7th highest
> 2015 firearm mortality rate: 18.6 per 100,000 — 7th highest
> Chg. in firearm background checks, 2015-2020: +39.4% — 18th smallest increase (147,912 to 206,252)
> Population: 2,117,522 — 15th smallest

Source: Dmitro2009 / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

25. New York
> Chg. in firearm deaths, 2015-2020: +23.9% (849 to 1,052)
> 2020 firearm mortality rate: 5.3 per 100,000 — 5th lowest
> 2015 firearm mortality rate: 4.2 per 100,000 — 3rd lowest
> Chg. in firearm background checks, 2015-2020: +46.8% — 23rd smallest increase (346,048 to 507,940)
> Population: 20,201,249 — 4th largest

Source: Anadolu Agency / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

24. Virginia
> Chg. in firearm deaths, 2015-2020: +24.1% (946 to 1,174)
> 2020 firearm mortality rate: 13.4 per 100,000 — 17th lowest
> 2015 firearm mortality rate: 10.9 per 100,000 — 17th lowest
> Chg. in firearm background checks, 2015-2020: +77.9% — 14th largest increase (462,997 to 823,513)
> Population: 8,631,393 — 12th largest

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23. Louisiana
> Chg. in firearm deaths, 2015-2020: +24.3% (952 to 1,183)
> 2020 firearm mortality rate: 26.3 per 100,000 — 2nd highest
> 2015 firearm mortality rate: 20.4 per 100,000 — 2nd highest
> Chg. in firearm background checks, 2015-2020: +15.5% — 6th smallest increase (372,613 to 430,537)
> Population: 4,657,757 — 25th largest

Source: f11photo / iStock via Getty Images

22. Michigan
> Chg. in firearm deaths, 2015-2020: +24.9% (1,164 to 1,454)
> 2020 firearm mortality rate: 14.6 per 100,000 — 24th highest
> 2015 firearm mortality rate: 11.7 per 100,000 — 23rd lowest
> Chg. in firearm background checks, 2015-2020: +113.3% — 5th largest increase (500,921 to 1,068,511)
> Population: 10,077,331 — 10th largest

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21. South Dakota
> Chg. in firearm deaths, 2015-2020: +25.0% (96 to 120)
> 2020 firearm mortality rate: 13.6 per 100,000 — 21st lowest
> 2015 firearm mortality rate: 11.1 per 100,000 — 18th lowest
> Chg. in firearm background checks, 2015-2020: +15.1% — 5th smallest increase (100,268 to 115,448)
> Population: 886,667 — 5th smallest

Source: JoeChristensen / iStock Unreleased via Getty Images

20. Minnesota
> Chg. in firearm deaths, 2015-2020: +25.1% (410 to 513)
> 2020 firearm mortality rate: 8.9 per 100,000 — 9th lowest
> 2015 firearm mortality rate: 7.4 per 100,000 — 7th lowest
> Chg. in firearm background checks, 2015-2020: +84.6% — 11th largest increase (519,244 to 958,391)
> Population: 5,706,494 — 22nd largest

Source: Sean Pavone / iStock via Getty Images

19. Massachusetts
> Chg. in firearm deaths, 2015-2020: +25.8% (213 to 268)
> 2020 firearm mortality rate: 3.7 per 100,000 — 2nd lowest
> 2015 firearm mortality rate: 3.0 per 100,000 — the lowest
> Chg. in firearm background checks, 2015-2020: +57.0% — 21st largest increase (167,285 to 262,583)
> Population: 7,029,917 — 15th largest

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Source: kdow / iStock via Getty Images

18. Ohio
> Chg. in firearm deaths, 2015-2020: +26.3% (1,397 to 1,764)
> 2020 firearm mortality rate: 15.2 per 100,000 — 23rd highest
> 2015 firearm mortality rate: 11.9 per 100,000 — 25th lowest
> Chg. in firearm background checks, 2015-2020: +30.5% — 12th smallest increase (748,502 to 976,751)
> Population: 11,799,448 — 7th largest

Source: artas / iStock via Getty Images

17. Arkansas
> Chg. in firearm deaths, 2015-2020: +29.4% (520 to 673)
> 2020 firearm mortality rate: 22.6 per 100,000 — 8th highest
> 2015 firearm mortality rate: 16.9 per 100,000 — 11th highest
> Chg. in firearm background checks, 2015-2020: +26.2% — 10th smallest increase (257,346 to 324,741)
> Population: 3,011,524 — 18th smallest

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Source: Karl Weatherly / Photodisc via Getty Images

16. Idaho
> Chg. in firearm deaths, 2015-2020: +30.0% (247 to 321)
> 2020 firearm mortality rate: 17.6 per 100,000 — 16th highest
> 2015 firearm mortality rate: 14.7 per 100,000 — 15th highest
> Chg. in firearm background checks, 2015-2020: +105.4% — 6th largest increase (136,946 to 281,284)
> Population: 1,839,106 — 13th smallest

Source: Scott Olson / Getty Images News via Getty Images

15. Kentucky
> Chg. in firearm deaths, 2015-2020: +30.0% (694 to 902)
> 2020 firearm mortality rate: 20.1 per 100,000 — 13th highest
> 2015 firearm mortality rate: 15.2 per 100,000 — 13th highest
> Chg. in firearm background checks, 2015-2020: +3.5% — 3rd smallest increase (3,218,371 to 3,330,462)
> Population: 4,505,836 — 25th smallest

14. Texas
> Chg. in firearm deaths, 2015-2020: +30.0% (3,203 to 4,164)
> 2020 firearm mortality rate: 14.2 per 100,000 — 25th lowest
> 2015 firearm mortality rate: 11.7 per 100,000 — 23rd lowest
> Chg. in firearm background checks, 2015-2020: +47.7% — 25th smallest increase (1,574,266 to 2,325,281)
> Population: 29,145,505 — 2nd largest

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Source: Anadolu Agency / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

13. Missouri
> Chg. in firearm deaths, 2015-2020: +30.3% (1,094 to 1,426)
> 2020 firearm mortality rate: 23.9 per 100,000 — 4th highest
> 2015 firearm mortality rate: 18.1 per 100,000 — 8th highest
> Chg. in firearm background checks, 2015-2020: +21.1% — 8th smallest increase (584,875 to 708,184)
> Population: 6,154,913 — 19th largest

Source: AFP / AFP via Getty Images

12. Arizona
> Chg. in firearm deaths, 2015-2020: +30.4% (970 to 1,265)
> 2020 firearm mortality rate: 16.7 per 100,000 — 20th highest
> 2015 firearm mortality rate: 13.8 per 100,000 — 18th highest
> Chg. in firearm background checks, 2015-2020: +100.8% — 7th largest increase (331,442 to 665,458)
> Population: 7,151,502 — 14th largest

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Source: Ken Lund / Wikimedia Commons

11. Georgia
> Chg. in firearm deaths, 2015-2020: +31.0% (1,448 to 1,897)
> 2020 firearm mortality rate: 17.7 per 100,000 — 15th highest
> 2015 firearm mortality rate: 14.1 per 100,000 — 16th highest
> Chg. in firearm background checks, 2015-2020: +59.5% — 20th largest increase (566,946 to 904,035)
> Population: 10,711,908 — 8th largest

Source: mtcurado / iStock Unreleased via Getty Images

10. Colorado
> Chg. in firearm deaths, 2015-2020: +31.5% (701 to 922)
> 2020 firearm mortality rate: 15.4 per 100,000 — 22nd highest
> 2015 firearm mortality rate: 12.6 per 100,000 — 22nd highest
> Chg. in firearm background checks, 2015-2020: +49.9% — 25th largest increase (454,062 to 680,507)
> Population: 5,773,714 — 21st largest

Source: J. Michael Jones / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

9. North Carolina
> Chg. in firearm deaths, 2015-2020: +31.8% (1,289 to 1,699)
> 2020 firearm mortality rate: 16.0 per 100,000 — 21st highest
> 2015 firearm mortality rate: 12.5 per 100,000 — 23rd highest
> Chg. in firearm background checks, 2015-2020: +67.4% — 17th largest increase (531,876 to 890,284)
> Population: 10,439,388 — 9th largest

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Source: Kruck20 / iStock via Getty Images

8. South Carolina
> Chg. in firearm deaths, 2015-2020: +33.1% (850 to 1,131)
> 2020 firearm mortality rate: 22.0 per 100,000 — 9th highest
> 2015 firearm mortality rate: 17.3 per 100,000 — 10th highest
> Chg. in firearm background checks, 2015-2020: +62.4% — 19th largest increase (326,997 to 530,930)
> Population: 5,118,425 — 23rd largest

Source: Thinkstock / Stockbyte via Getty Images

7. Wyoming
> Chg. in firearm deaths, 2015-2020: +36.3% (113 to 154)
> 2020 firearm mortality rate: 25.9 per 100,000 — 3rd highest
> 2015 firearm mortality rate: 19.6 per 100,000 — 3rd highest
> Chg. in firearm background checks, 2015-2020: +46.6% — 22nd smallest increase (62,339 to 91,384)
> Population: 576,851 — the smallest

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Source: The Washington Post / The Washington Post via Getty Images

6. Indiana
> Chg. in firearm deaths, 2015-2020: +37.0% (846 to 1,159)
> 2020 firearm mortality rate: 17.3 per 100,000 — 17th highest
> 2015 firearm mortality rate: 12.7 per 100,000 — 21st highest
> Chg. in firearm background checks, 2015-2020: +79.7% — 13th largest increase (1,076,917 to 1,935,587)
> Population: 6,785,528 — 17th largest

Source: krblokhin / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

5. Tennessee
> Chg. in firearm deaths, 2015-2020: +37.0% (1,075 to 1,473)
> 2020 firearm mortality rate: 21.3 per 100,000 — 10th highest
> 2015 firearm mortality rate: 16.0 per 100,000 — 12th highest
> Chg. in firearm background checks, 2015-2020: +50.5% — 24th largest increase (654,192 to 984,760)
> Population: 6,910,840 — 16th largest

Source: f11photo / iStock via Getty Images

4. Mississippi
> Chg. in firearm deaths, 2015-2020: +38.9% (589 to 818)
> 2020 firearm mortality rate: 28.6 per 100,000 — the highest
> 2015 firearm mortality rate: 19.6 per 100,000 — 3rd highest
> Chg. in firearm background checks, 2015-2020: +45.4% — 20th smallest increase (252,372 to 366,829)
> Population: 2,961,279 — 17th smallest

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Source: pabradyphoto / iStock via Getty Images

3. Iowa
> Chg. in firearm deaths, 2015-2020: +42.1% (247 to 351)
> 2020 firearm mortality rate: 11.2 per 100,000 — 13th lowest
> 2015 firearm mortality rate: 7.8 per 100,000 — 9th lowest
> Chg. in firearm background checks, 2015-2020: +83.7% — 12th largest increase (147,309 to 270,614)
> Population: 3,190,369 — 20th smallest

Source: Scott Olson / Getty Images News via Getty Images

2. Illinois
> Chg. in firearm deaths, 2015-2020: +43.0% (1,220 to 1,745)
> 2020 firearm mortality rate: 14.1 per 100,000 — 24th lowest
> 2015 firearm mortality rate: 9.5 per 100,000 — 12th lowest
> Chg. in firearm background checks, 2015-2020: +497.6% — the largest increase (1,247,398 to 7,455,065)
> Population: 12,812,508 — 6th largest

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Source: TriggerPhoto / iStock via Getty Images

1. Kansas
> Chg. in firearm deaths, 2015-2020: +49.7% (330 to 494)
> 2020 firearm mortality rate: 16.9 per 100,000 — 19th highest
> 2015 firearm mortality rate: 11.4 per 100,000 — 21st lowest
> Chg. in firearm background checks, 2015-2020: +34.3% — 16th smallest increase (185,859 to 249,589)
> Population: 2,937,880 — 16th smallest

Methodology

To determine the states where gun deaths have increased the fastest, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed firearm mortality data from the CDC.  There are 47 states with reported increases from 2015 to 2020, and those states are ranked on the percent increase in firearm deaths during that time period. Population data came from the U.S. Census Bureau 2020 decennial data. Data on firearm background checks came from the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Background checks are often used as a proxy for gun sales.

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