Special Report

States Where Gun Sales Are Increasing the Most

Colorado state legislature earlier this month had the first hearing of a bill that, if passed, will require a three-day waiting period for the purchase of a firearm in the state. The bill, part of a package of gun-control measures introduced by state Democrats, would make Colorado the 10th state to require a waiting period. Meanwhile, Colorado’s firearm background checks, a rough approximation of gun sales, increased by 3.5% last month compared to February 2022.  (These are the states with the weakest gun laws.)

To identify the states where gun sales are increasing fastest, 24/7 Wall St. used FBI data from its National Instant Criminal Background Check System, looking at the 20 states with the largest percentage increase in adjusted-firearm background checks from February 2022 to February 2023. To reach a closer approximation of gun sales, we excluded categories of checks such as for pawn shop transactions, returns, rentals, and rechecks (which are conducted periodically by some states on existing permit holders). 

Even after removing some types of checks that are clearly unrelated to a new firearm purchase, because every state has different background checks laws and accounting practices, background checks still serve only as a rough approximation. 

The states that reported the largest increases in background checks in February compared to the same period in 2022 include both states that tend to rank relatively low each month in checks and those that rank among the highest in checks per capita each month. Hawaii and New Jersey, which rank last and second-to-last in checks per person, each reported an increase in checks.

Meanwhile, Oregon, which ranks second-highest among states in background checks per person, reported a nearly 40% increase in checks in February compared to February of 2022. (These are the states where the most people bought guns in January)

Click here to see states where gun sales are increasing the most.

Click here to see our detailed methodology.

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