Special Report

States Where The Most People Bought Guns Last Month

Courtesy of Georgia Gun Store via Yelp

A federal judge in Washington state refused this week a request to overturn a new law that bans the manufacturing or selling of assault-style semi-automatic rifles. The law is one of three signed into effect by state Gov. Jay Inslee this week, making Washington only the latest state to pass stricter gun control laws. 

Just last month, Washington’s neighbor, Oregon, passed substantial gun control legislation, increasing the minimum age to buy most guns to 21, among other policies. Oregon is also waiting on the results of a federal trial to determine if a measure passed by state voters in November will be upheld. The measure would require anyone attempting to get a gun permit to take a safety course and pass a background check. 

The gun legislation in Oregon may have inspired more people to buy guns. There is no direct way to track gun sales in the United States, but using the best available approximation, background checks, more people bought guns in Oregon than any other state, adjusting for population. Background checks were up 45% in the state compared to the same month a year ago. 

To find the states where the most people bought guns last month, 24/7 Wall St. used data from the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System. States are ranked based on the number of gun background checks in May 2023 per 1,000 state residents. 

To get closer to an accurate reflection of true gun sales, we excluded several categories of criminal background checks, including pawn shop transactions, returns, rentals, and rechecks, which are conducted periodically by some states on existing permit holders. Even after removing these categories, background checks still only serve as a rough approximation of gun sales and they are likely an over or underestimation in some states.

In May, a total of 2.3 million criminal background checks were conducted. After adjusting for the aforementioned categories, the remaining 1.5 million — about 4.5 checks per 1,000 people nationwide — are more likely to be tied to the sale of a gun. (Also read: the companies selling the most guns, according to an online gun broker.)

For the first time in months, the state of Hawaii was not the state with the lowest rate of gun sales. Instead, that honor goes to a pair of states in the Northeast, a region with consistently low firearms purchases per capita. States in the West dominated the other end of the list. Including Oregon, seven of the 10 states with the most background checks per person were in that part of the country. (Also see: these are the Americans who own the most guns.) 

Click here to see states where the most people bought guns last month.

Click here to see our detailed methodology.

Source: TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP via Getty Images

50. New York
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2023: 1.4
> Firearm background checks, May 2023: 27,302 — 22nd most
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2022: 1.5 — 3rd fewest
> Firearm background checks, May 2022: 29,128 — 21st most
> Change in background checks, May 2022 – May 2023: -1,826 (-6.3% — 13th largest decrease)
> 2022 Population: 19.7 million — 4th largest

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Source: Spencer Platt / Getty Images News via Getty Images

49. New Jersey
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2023: 1.4
> Firearm background checks, May 2023: 13,188 — 18th fewest
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2022: 1.3 — 2nd fewest
> Firearm background checks, May 2022: 11,599 — 14th fewest
> Change in background checks, May 2022 – May 2023: +1,589 (+13.7% — 8th largest increase)
> 2022 Population: 9.3 million — 11th largest

48. Hawaii
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2023: 1.6
> Firearm background checks, May 2023: 2,282 — 2nd fewest
> Most common type of firearm check: No data available
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2022: 0.9 — the fewest
> Firearm background checks, May 2022: 1,331 — the fewest
> Change in background checks, May 2022 – May 2023: +951 (+71.5% — the largest increase)
> 2022 Population: 1.4 million — 11th smallest

Source: Courtesy of George Z. via Yelp

47. Rhode Island
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2023: 1.7
> Firearm background checks, May 2023: 1,847 — the fewest
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2022: 1.9 — 4th fewest
> Firearm background checks, May 2022: 2,092 — 2nd fewest
> Change in background checks, May 2022 – May 2023: -245 (-11.7% — 3rd largest decrease)
> 2022 Population: 1.1 million — 7th smallest

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Source: Boston Globe / Boston Globe via Getty Images

46. Massachusetts
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2023: 2.5
> Firearm background checks, May 2023: 17,195 — 22nd fewest
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2022: 2.5 — 6th fewest
> Firearm background checks, May 2022: 17,282 — 21st fewest
> Change in background checks, May 2022 – May 2023: -87 (-0.5% — 24th smallest decrease)
> 2022 Population: 7.0 million — 16th largest

Source: David McNew / Getty Images News via Getty Images

45. California
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2023: 2.5
> Firearm background checks, May 2023: 97,620 — 3rd most
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2022: 2.5 — 5th fewest
> Firearm background checks, May 2022: 95,692 — 3rd most
> Change in background checks, May 2022 – May 2023: +1,928 (+2.0% — 18th largest increase)
> 2022 Population: 39.0 million — the largest

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Source: Courtesy of Marion Guns & Gold via Yelp

44. Iowa
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2023: 2.6
> Firearm background checks, May 2023: 8,250 — 11th fewest
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2022: 2.5 — 7th fewest
> Firearm background checks, May 2022: 8,032 — 11th fewest
> Change in background checks, May 2022 – May 2023: +218 (+2.7% — 16th largest increase)
> 2022 Population: 3.2 million — 20th smallest

Source: philipimage / iStock via Getty Images

43. Nebraska
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2023: 3.2
> Firearm background checks, May 2023: 6,339 — 9th fewest
> Most common type of firearm check: Long guns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2022: 2.7 — 8th fewest
> Firearm background checks, May 2022: 5,254 — 5th fewest
> Change in background checks, May 2022 – May 2023: +1,085 (+20.7% — 7th largest increase)
> 2022 Population: 2.0 million — 14th smallest

Source: Courtesy of Georgia Gun Store via Yelp

42. Georgia
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2023: 3.6
> Firearm background checks, May 2023: 39,386 — 14th most
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2022: 3.7 — 10th fewest
> Firearm background checks, May 2022: 39,873 — 14th most
> Change in background checks, May 2022 – May 2023: -487 (-1.2% — 2nd smallest decrease)
> 2022 Population: 10.9 million — 8th largest

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Source: hiramtom / iStock Unreleased via Getty Images

41. Ohio
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2023: 3.7
> Firearm background checks, May 2023: 43,600 — 10th most
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2022: 3.7 — 11th fewest
> Firearm background checks, May 2022: 43,600 — 10th most
> Change in background checks, May 2022 – May 2023: +00 (+0.0% — 22nd largest increase)
> 2022 Population: 11.8 million — 7th largest

Source: Ethan Miller / Getty Images News via Getty Images

40. Nevada
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2023: 3.8
> Firearm background checks, May 2023: 12,043 — 14th fewest
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2022: 3.8 — 12th fewest
> Firearm background checks, May 2022: 11,932 — 16th fewest
> Change in background checks, May 2022 – May 2023: +111 (+0.9% — 19th largest increase)
> 2022 Population: 3.2 million — 19th smallest

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Source: Rick Gershon / Getty Images News via Getty Images

39. Texas
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2023: 3.9
> Firearm background checks, May 2023: 116,465 — the most
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2022: 4.0 — 14th fewest
> Firearm background checks, May 2022: 119,709 — the most
> Change in background checks, May 2022 – May 2023: -3,244 (-2.7% — 9th smallest decrease)
> 2022 Population: 30.0 million — 2nd largest

Source: Scott Olson / Getty Images News via Getty Images

38. Kentucky
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2023: 4.0
> Firearm background checks, May 2023: 17,827 — 23rd fewest
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2022: 4.0 — 15th fewest
> Firearm background checks, May 2022: 18,098 — 23rd fewest
> Change in background checks, May 2022 – May 2023: -271 (-1.5% — 4th smallest decrease)
> 2022 Population: 4.5 million — 25th smallest

Source: Anadolu Agency / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

37. Maryland
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2023: 4.1
> Firearm background checks, May 2023: 25,234 — 24th most
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2022: 2.8 — 9th fewest
> Firearm background checks, May 2022: 17,319 — 22nd fewest
> Change in background checks, May 2022 – May 2023: +7,915 (+45.7% — 3rd largest increase)
> 2022 Population: 6.2 million — 19th largest

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Source: Courtesy of Bowie Outfitters via Yelp

36. Louisiana
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2023: 4.2
> Firearm background checks, May 2023: 19,270 — 25th fewest
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2022: 4.6 — 22nd fewest
> Firearm background checks, May 2022: 21,249 — 24th most
> Change in background checks, May 2022 – May 2023: -1,979 (-9.3% — 8th largest decrease)
> 2022 Population: 4.6 million — 25th largest

35. Kansas
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2023: 4.2
> Firearm background checks, May 2023: 12,354 — 15th fewest
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2022: 4.2 — 18th fewest
> Firearm background checks, May 2022: 12,331 — 18th fewest
> Change in background checks, May 2022 – May 2023: +23 (+0.2% — 21st largest increase)
> 2022 Population: 2.9 million — 16th smallest

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Source: Patrick Smith / Getty Images News via Getty Images

34. Delaware
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2023: 4.4
> Firearm background checks, May 2023: 4,492 — 4th fewest
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2022: 4.1 — 16th fewest
> Firearm background checks, May 2022: 4,222 — 4th fewest
> Change in background checks, May 2022 – May 2023: +270 (+6.4% — 11th largest increase)
> 2022 Population: 1.0 million — 6th smallest

Source: AFP Contributor / AFP via Getty Images

33. Virginia
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2023: 4.4
> Firearm background checks, May 2023: 38,359 — 17th most
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2022: 4.6 — 21st fewest
> Firearm background checks, May 2022: 39,859 — 15th most
> Change in background checks, May 2022 – May 2023: -1,500 (-3.8% — 12th smallest decrease)
> 2022 Population: 8.7 million — 12th largest

Source: JOE KLAMAR / AFP via Getty Images

32. Connecticut
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2023: 4.6
> Firearm background checks, May 2023: 16,564 — 21st fewest
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2022: 5.1 — 25th fewest
> Firearm background checks, May 2022: 18,439 — 25th fewest
> Change in background checks, May 2022 – May 2023: -1,875 (-10.2% — 5th largest decrease)
> 2022 Population: 3.6 million — 22nd smallest

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Source: Scott Olson / Getty Images News via Getty Images

31. Indiana
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2023: 4.6
> Firearm background checks, May 2023: 31,255 — 20th most
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2022: 4.7 — 23rd fewest
> Firearm background checks, May 2022: 32,271 — 19th most
> Change in background checks, May 2022 – May 2023: -1,016 (-3.1% — 11th smallest decrease)
> 2022 Population: 6.8 million — 17th largest

Source: Courtesy of Powderhorn Outdoor Sports Center via Yelp

30. Vermont
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2023: 4.7
> Firearm background checks, May 2023: 3,023 — 3rd fewest
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2022: 4.4 — 19th fewest
> Firearm background checks, May 2022: 2,879 — 3rd fewest
> Change in background checks, May 2022 – May 2023: +144 (+5.0% — 13th largest increase)
> 2022 Population: 647,064 — 2nd smallest

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Source: Joe Sohm/Visions of America / Universal Images Group via Getty Images

29. Florida
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2023: 4.7
> Firearm background checks, May 2023: 104,093 — 2nd most
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2022: 4.8 — 24th fewest
> Firearm background checks, May 2022: 106,362 — 2nd most
> Change in background checks, May 2022 – May 2023: -2,269 (-2.1% — 8th smallest decrease)
> 2022 Population: 22.2 million — 3rd largest

28. Arkansas
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2023: 4.7
> Firearm background checks, May 2023: 14,300 — 19th fewest
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2022: 4.6 — 20th fewest
> Firearm background checks, May 2022: 13,868 — 19th fewest
> Change in background checks, May 2022 – May 2023: +432 (+3.1% — 15th largest increase)
> 2022 Population: 3.0 million — 18th smallest

Source: Courtesy of Shooter's Choice via Yelp

27. South Carolina
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2023: 5.0
> Firearm background checks, May 2023: 26,348 — 23rd most
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2022: 5.3 — 23rd most
> Firearm background checks, May 2022: 28,143 — 22nd most
> Change in background checks, May 2022 – May 2023: -1,795 (-6.4% — 11th largest decrease)
> 2022 Population: 5.3 million — 23rd largest

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Source: Roberto Galan / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

26. Michigan
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2023: 5.2
> Firearm background checks, May 2023: 51,906 — 8th most
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2022: 5.3 — 25th most
> Firearm background checks, May 2022: 52,806 — 7th most
> Change in background checks, May 2022 – May 2023: -900 (-1.7% — 5th smallest decrease)
> 2022 Population: 10.0 million — 10th largest

Source: John S Stewart / iStock via Getty Images

25. Missouri
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2023: 5.2
> Firearm background checks, May 2023: 32,202 — 19th most
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2022: 5.6 — 20th most
> Firearm background checks, May 2022: 34,393 — 18th most
> Change in background checks, May 2022 – May 2023: -2,191 (-6.4% — 12th largest decrease)
> 2022 Population: 6.2 million — 18th largest

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Source: Marc Lecureuil / Getty Images

24. Arizona
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2023: 5.3
> Firearm background checks, May 2023: 39,099 — 15th most
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2022: 5.3 — 24th most
> Firearm background checks, May 2022: 39,004 — 16th most
> Change in background checks, May 2022 – May 2023: +95 (+0.2% — 20th largest increase)
> 2022 Population: 7.4 million — 14th largest

Source: picture alliance / picture alliance via Getty Images

23. South Dakota
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2023: 5.3
> Firearm background checks, May 2023: 4,845 — 5th fewest
> Most common type of firearm check: Long guns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2022: 5.9 — 17th most
> Firearm background checks, May 2022: 5,366 — 7th fewest
> Change in background checks, May 2022 – May 2023: -521 (-9.7% — 6th largest decrease)
> 2022 Population: 909,824 — 5th smallest

Source: Courtesy of 144 Tactical Defense via Yelp

22. Mississippi
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2023: 5.3
> Firearm background checks, May 2023: 15,704 — 20th fewest
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2022: 5.5 — 21st most
> Firearm background checks, May 2022: 16,038 — 20th fewest
> Change in background checks, May 2022 – May 2023: -334 (-2.1% — 7th smallest decrease)
> 2022 Population: 2.9 million — 17th smallest

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Source: Scott Olson / Getty Images News via Getty Images

21. Illinois
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2023: 5.4
> Firearm background checks, May 2023: 67,377 — 5th most
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2022: 4.2 — 17th fewest
> Firearm background checks, May 2022: 52,518 — 8th most
> Change in background checks, May 2022 – May 2023: +14,859 (+28.3% — 6th largest increase)
> 2022 Population: 12.6 million — 6th largest

Source: VistaVision / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

20. Maine
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2023: 5.4
> Firearm background checks, May 2023: 7,441 — 10th fewest
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2022: 5.4 — 22nd most
> Firearm background checks, May 2022: 7,451 — 10th fewest
> Change in background checks, May 2022 – May 2023: -10 (-0.1% — 23rd smallest decrease)
> 2022 Population: 1.4 million — 9th smallest

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Source: Juan Jose Napuri / iStock via Getty Images

19. Washington
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2023: 5.6
> Firearm background checks, May 2023: 43,717 — 9th most
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2022: 8.0 — 7th most
> Firearm background checks, May 2022: 62,317 — 5th most
> Change in background checks, May 2022 – May 2023: -18,600 (-29.8% — the largest decrease)
> 2022 Population: 7.8 million — 13th largest

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

18. North Carolina
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2023: 5.7
> Firearm background checks, May 2023: 61,016 — 6th most
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2022: 3.9 — 13th fewest
> Firearm background checks, May 2022: 41,285 — 12th most
> Change in background checks, May 2022 – May 2023: +19,731 (+47.8% — 2nd largest increase)
> 2022 Population: 10.7 million — 9th largest

17. Oklahoma
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2023: 5.8
> Firearm background checks, May 2023: 23,472 — 25th most
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2022: 5.7 — 18th most
> Firearm background checks, May 2022: 22,897 — 23rd most
> Change in background checks, May 2022 – May 2023: +575 (+2.5% — 17th largest increase)
> 2022 Population: 4.0 million — 23rd smallest

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16. Minnesota
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2023: 6.0
> Firearm background checks, May 2023: 34,324 — 18th most
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2022: 6.1 — 16th most
> Firearm background checks, May 2022: 34,737 — 17th most
> Change in background checks, May 2022 – May 2023: -413 (-1.2% — the smallest decrease)
> 2022 Population: 5.7 million — 22nd largest

15. New Mexico
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2023: 6.1
> Firearm background checks, May 2023: 12,885 — 17th fewest
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2022: 5.7 — 19th most
> Firearm background checks, May 2022: 11,970 — 17th fewest
> Change in background checks, May 2022 – May 2023: +915 (+7.6% — 9th largest increase)
> 2022 Population: 2.1 million — 15th smallest

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Source: Mike Kemp / In Pictures via Getty Images

14. North Dakota
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2023: 6.3
> Firearm background checks, May 2023: 4,882 — 6th fewest
> Most common type of firearm check: Long guns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2022: 6.8 — 12th most
> Firearm background checks, May 2022: 5,275 — 6th fewest
> Change in background checks, May 2022 – May 2023: -393 (-7.5% — 9th largest decrease)
> 2022 Population: 779,261 — 4th smallest

13. Wisconsin
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2023: 6.5
> Firearm background checks, May 2023: 38,397 — 16th most
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2022: 7.2 — 8th most
> Firearm background checks, May 2022: 42,365 — 11th most
> Change in background checks, May 2022 – May 2023: -3,968 (-9.4% — 7th largest decrease)
> 2022 Population: 5.9 million — 20th largest

Source: Spencer Platt / Getty Images News via Getty Images

12. Pennsylvania
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2023: 6.7
> Firearm background checks, May 2023: 86,836 — 4th most
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2022: 6.8 — 11th most
> Firearm background checks, May 2022: 88,014 — 4th most
> Change in background checks, May 2022 – May 2023: -1,178 (-1.3% — 3rd smallest decrease)
> 2022 Population: 13.0 million — 5th largest

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Source: jfbenning / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

11. West Virginia
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2023: 7.0
> Firearm background checks, May 2023: 12,485 — 16th fewest
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2022: 6.6 — 14th most
> Firearm background checks, May 2022: 11,766 — 15th fewest
> Change in background checks, May 2022 – May 2023: +719 (+6.1% — 12th largest increase)
> 2022 Population: 1.8 million — 12th smallest

Source: mtcurado / iStock Unreleased via Getty Images

10. Colorado
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2023: 7.1
> Firearm background checks, May 2023: 41,706 — 12th most
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2022: 6.9 — 10th most
> Firearm background checks, May 2022: 40,097 — 13th most
> Change in background checks, May 2022 – May 2023: +1,609 (+4.0% — 14th largest increase)
> 2022 Population: 5.8 million — 21st largest

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Source: Christopher Capozziello / Getty Images News via Getty Images

9. New Hampshire
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2023: 7.2
> Firearm background checks, May 2023: 9,977 — 13th fewest
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2022: 6.7 — 13th most
> Firearm background checks, May 2022: 9,318 — 12th fewest
> Change in background checks, May 2022 – May 2023: +659 (+7.1% — 10th largest increase)
> 2022 Population: 1.4 million — 10th smallest

8. Tennessee
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2023: 7.7
> Firearm background checks, May 2023: 54,282 — 7th most
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2022: 8.6 — 6th most
> Firearm background checks, May 2022: 60,606 — 6th most
> Change in background checks, May 2022 – May 2023: -6,324 (-10.4% — 4th largest decrease)
> 2022 Population: 7.1 million — 15th largest

Source: Barry Lewis / In Pictures via Getty Images

7. Alabama
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2023: 8.0
> Firearm background checks, May 2023: 40,453 — 13th most
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2022: 9.6 — the most
> Firearm background checks, May 2022: 48,555 — 9th most
> Change in background checks, May 2022 – May 2023: -8,102 (-16.7% — 2nd largest decrease)
> 2022 Population: 5.1 million — 24th largest

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Source: Kruck20 / iStock via Getty Images

6. Utah
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2023: 8.3
> Firearm background checks, May 2023: 28,193 — 21st most
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2022: 6.1 — 15th most
> Firearm background checks, May 2022: 20,712 — 25th most
> Change in background checks, May 2022 – May 2023: +7,481 (+36.1% — 5th largest increase)
> 2022 Population: 3.4 million — 21st smallest

Source: specnaz-s / iStock via Getty Images

5. Alaska
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2023: 8.4
> Firearm background checks, May 2023: 6,170 — 8th fewest
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2022: 8.7 — 5th most
> Firearm background checks, May 2022: 6,352 — 9th fewest
> Change in background checks, May 2022 – May 2023: -182 (-2.9% — 10th smallest decrease)
> 2022 Population: 733,583 — 3rd smallest

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Source: intek1 / Getty Images

4. Wyoming
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2023: 8.7
> Firearm background checks, May 2023: 5,086 — 7th fewest
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2022: 9.2 — 4th most
> Firearm background checks, May 2022: 5,368 — 8th fewest
> Change in background checks, May 2022 – May 2023: -282 (-5.3% — 13th smallest decrease)
> 2022 Population: 581,381 — the smallest

3. Montana
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2023: 8.8
> Firearm background checks, May 2023: 9,932 — 12th fewest
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2022: 9.5 — 2nd most
> Firearm background checks, May 2022: 10,622 — 13th fewest
> Change in background checks, May 2022 – May 2023: -690 (-6.5% — 10th largest decrease)
> 2022 Population: 1.1 million — 8th smallest

Source: Karl Weatherly / Photodisc via Getty Images

2. Idaho
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2023: 9.2
> Firearm background checks, May 2023: 17,838 — 24th fewest
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2022: 9.4 — 3rd most
> Firearm background checks, May 2022: 18,151 — 24th fewest
> Change in background checks, May 2022 – May 2023: -313 (-1.7% — 6th smallest decrease)
> 2022 Population: 1.9 million — 13th smallest

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Source: ROB KERR / AFP via Getty Images

1. Oregon
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2023: 10.2
> Firearm background checks, May 2023: 43,419 — 11th most
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, May 2022: 7.1 — 9th most
> Firearm background checks, May 2022: 29,951 — 20th most
> Change in background checks, May 2022 – May 2023: +13,468 (+45.0% — 4th largest increase)
> 2022 Population: 4.2 million — 24th smallest

Methodology

To find the states where the most people bought guns last month, 24/7 Wall St. used FBI data from its National Instant Criminal Background Check System. To get a more accurate approximation of gun sales, we excluded several categories of checks, including pawn shop transactions, returns, rentals, and rechecks, which are conducted periodically by some states on existing permit holders. We ranked states based on the number of gun checks in May 2023 per 1,000 people in each state. 

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

The most glaring example of this is Illinois, which alone accounted for about half of the background checks in the country after excluding the aforementioned categories. Illinois no longer breaks down background checks separately, but did from July 2016 through July 2021. During the four full years of data, an average of 9.2% of Illinois’s non-private sale or gun-specific permit checks were non-rechecks. We applied that average to the most recent state figures to estimate Illinois’ count. This was done only because Illinois is such a glaring example of inconsistency and because there was historical data to produce an estimate. 

There are likely other states for which the background check figures listed are inflated or underestimated proxies for gun sales. 

Population data came from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Population and Housing Unit Estimates Program, and are for July of 2022, the most recent data available. 

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