Special Report

States Where The Most People Bought Guns Last Month

Erich Schlegel / Getty Images News via Getty Images

The U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear a case that could have major implications on gun rights in the United States. The case involves a challenge to the 1994 federal law that prevents those who have committed acts of domestic violence from owning a gun. If the court rules in favor of the plaintiff and overturns the law, it would be the second time the court has had a major impact on gun control in the United States. Last year, it struck down a New York state ban on concealed carrying handguns. 

While the judicial branch appears to be set to continue loosening restrictions on gun ownership, there have been some recent wins for gun control advocates at both the executive and legislative branches. This includes the Safer Communities Act passed by Congress last year, and a presidential executive order signed in March intended to expand the incidence of background checks.

Firearm background checks are one of the core gun policy issues. Currently, the federal government only requires background checks before the sale of guns at federally-licensed arms dealers and not private gun shops. Many states have their own additional policies, including that 15 that have a universal background check law, meaning a check is required any time a gun changes hands between private parties. (These are the universal background check laws in every state.) 

Regardless of the current climate on gun laws and background check regulations, Americans keep buying guns. 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. Firearm background checks are a rough proxy for gun sales. States are ranked based on the number of gun background checks in June 2023 per 1,000 state residents. 

To get closer to an accurate reflection of 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 are likely an over or underestimation in some states.

In June, more than 2 million criminal background checks were conducted. After adjusting for categories that appear to be unrelated to the sale of a gun, the remaining 1.4 million — or about 4.2 checks per 1,000 people nationwide — more accurately reflect the national appetite for new firearms. (Also read: the 22 most popular guns bought online last year.)

After ranking third last in May, Hawaii once again appears to be the state with fewest gun sales per capita. After Hawaii, most of the states with relatively few checks per capita are liberal states in the Northeast or West Coast, including New York, New Jersey, and California. It should be noted that these states all have universal background check laws, making their relatively few checks per capita an even better approximation of gun sales and the lower demand for guns in these states, at least compared to the rest of the country. (Also see: these are the Americans who own the most guns.)

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

Click here to see our detailed methodology.

50. Hawaii
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2023: 1.2
> Firearm background checks, June 2023: 1,793 — 2nd fewest
> Most common type of firearm check: No data available
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2022: 1.3 — the fewest
> Firearm background checks, June 2022: 1,856 — the fewest
> Change in background checks, June 2022 – June 2023: -63 (-3.4% — the smallest decrease)
> 2022 Population: 1.4 million — 11th smallest

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49. New Jersey
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2023: 1.3
> Firearm background checks, June 2023: 11,971 — 16th fewest
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2022: 1.4 — 2nd fewest
> Firearm background checks, June 2022: 12,957 — 14th fewest
> Change in background checks, June 2022 – June 2023: -986 (-7.6% — 5th smallest decrease)
> 2022 Population: 9.3 million — 11th largest

48. New York
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2023: 1.3
> Firearm background checks, June 2023: 26,044 — 23rd most
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2022: 2.2 — 3rd fewest
> Firearm background checks, June 2022: 42,436 — 17th most
> Change in background checks, June 2022 – June 2023: -16,392 (-38.6% — 3rd largest decrease)
> 2022 Population: 19.7 million — 4th largest

47. Rhode Island
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2023: 1.6
> Firearm background checks, June 2023: 1,785 — the fewest
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2022: 2.6 — 4th fewest
> Firearm background checks, June 2022: 2,844 — 2nd fewest
> Change in background checks, June 2022 – June 2023: -1,059 (-37.2% — 4th largest decrease)
> 2022 Population: 1.1 million — 7th smallest

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46. Massachusetts
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2023: 2.3
> Firearm background checks, June 2023: 16,046 — 21st fewest
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2022: 2.6 — 5th fewest
> Firearm background checks, June 2022: 18,477 — 22nd fewest
> Change in background checks, June 2022 – June 2023: -2,431 (-13.2% — 12th smallest decrease)
> 2022 Population: 7.0 million — 16th largest

45. Iowa
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2023: 2.3
> Firearm background checks, June 2023: 7,393 — 11th fewest
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2022: 2.9 — 8th fewest
> Firearm background checks, June 2022: 9,397 — 9th fewest
> Change in background checks, June 2022 – June 2023: -2,004 (-21.3% — 13th largest decrease)
> 2022 Population: 3.2 million — 20th smallest

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44. California
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2023: 2.6
> Firearm background checks, June 2023: 99,556 — 3rd most
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2022: 2.8 — 6th fewest
> Firearm background checks, June 2022: 109,675 — 3rd most
> Change in background checks, June 2022 – June 2023: -10,119 (-9.2% — 8th smallest decrease)
> 2022 Population: 39.0 million — the largest

43. Nebraska
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2023: 2.6
> Firearm background checks, June 2023: 5,101 — 8th fewest
> Most common type of firearm check: Long guns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2022: 2.8 — 7th fewest
> Firearm background checks, June 2022: 5,545 — 4th fewest
> Change in background checks, June 2022 – June 2023: -444 (-8.0% — 6th smallest decrease)
> 2022 Population: 2.0 million — 14th smallest

42. Nevada
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2023: 3.2
> Firearm background checks, June 2023: 10,143 — 14th fewest
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2022: 4.9 — 17th fewest
> Firearm background checks, June 2022: 15,675 — 18th fewest
> Change in background checks, June 2022 – June 2023: -5,532 (-35.3% — 5th largest decrease)
> 2022 Population: 3.2 million — 19th smallest

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41. Georgia
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2023: 3.3
> Firearm background checks, June 2023: 36,491 — 14th most
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2022: 4.0 — 10th fewest
> Firearm background checks, June 2022: 43,920 — 16th most
> Change in background checks, June 2022 – June 2023: -7,429 (-16.9% — 20th smallest decrease)
> 2022 Population: 10.9 million — 8th largest

40. Maryland
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2023: 3.5
> Firearm background checks, June 2023: 21,484 — 25th most
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2022: 3.0 — 9th fewest
> Firearm background checks, June 2022: 18,711 — 23rd fewest
> Change in background checks, June 2022 – June 2023: +2,773 (+14.8% — 2nd largest increase)
> 2022 Population: 6.2 million — 19th largest

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39. Ohio
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2023: 3.6
> Firearm background checks, June 2023: 41,962 — 9th most
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2022: 4.4 — 13th fewest
> Firearm background checks, June 2022: 52,314 — 10th most
> Change in background checks, June 2022 – June 2023: -10,352 (-19.8% — 17th largest decrease)
> 2022 Population: 11.8 million — 7th largest

38. Texas
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2023: 3.7
> Firearm background checks, June 2023: 111,722 — the most
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2022: 4.7 — 15th fewest
> Firearm background checks, June 2022: 140,862 — the most
> Change in background checks, June 2022 – June 2023: -29,140 (-20.7% — 14th largest decrease)
> 2022 Population: 30.0 million — 2nd largest

37. Kentucky
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2023: 3.8
> Firearm background checks, June 2023: 16,982 — 22nd fewest
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2022: 4.4 — 12th fewest
> Firearm background checks, June 2022: 19,902 — 24th fewest
> Change in background checks, June 2022 – June 2023: -2,920 (-14.7% — 14th smallest decrease)
> 2022 Population: 4.5 million — 25th smallest

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36. Louisiana
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2023: 3.9
> Firearm background checks, June 2023: 17,816 — 23rd fewest
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2022: 5.4 — 21st fewest
> Firearm background checks, June 2022: 24,815 — 25th most
> Change in background checks, June 2022 – June 2023: -6,999 (-28.2% — 7th largest decrease)
> 2022 Population: 4.6 million — 25th largest

35. Illinois
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2023: 4.0
> Firearm background checks, June 2023: 50,481 — 7th most
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2022: 4.7 — 16th fewest
> Firearm background checks, June 2022: 59,291 — 7th most
> Change in background checks, June 2022 – June 2023: -8,811 (-14.9% — 16th smallest decrease)
> 2022 Population: 12.6 million — 6th largest

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34. Delaware
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2023: 4.1
> Firearm background checks, June 2023: 4,189 — 4th fewest
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2022: 9.6 — 6th most
> Firearm background checks, June 2022: 9,802 — 11th fewest
> Change in background checks, June 2022 – June 2023: -5,613 (-57.3% — the largest decrease)
> 2022 Population: 1.0 million — 6th smallest

33. Kansas
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2023: 4.1
> Firearm background checks, June 2023: 12,168 — 17th fewest
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2022: 5.0 — 18th fewest
> Firearm background checks, June 2022: 14,577 — 17th fewest
> Change in background checks, June 2022 – June 2023: -2,409 (-16.5% — 19th smallest decrease)
> 2022 Population: 2.9 million — 16th smallest

32. Virginia
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2023: 4.4
> Firearm background checks, June 2023: 38,170 — 12th most
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2022: 5.3 — 20th fewest
> Firearm background checks, June 2022: 46,380 — 12th most
> Change in background checks, June 2022 – June 2023: -8,210 (-17.7% — 21st smallest decrease)
> 2022 Population: 8.7 million — 12th largest

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31. Indiana
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2023: 4.5
> Firearm background checks, June 2023: 30,504 — 19th most
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2022: 5.5 — 23rd fewest
> Firearm background checks, June 2022: 37,428 — 19th most
> Change in background checks, June 2022 – June 2023: -6,924 (-18.5% — 23rd largest decrease)
> 2022 Population: 6.8 million — 17th largest

30. Florida
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2023: 4.5
> Firearm background checks, June 2023: 99,736 — 2nd most
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2022: 5.9 — 25th fewest
> Firearm background checks, June 2022: 131,345 — 2nd most
> Change in background checks, June 2022 – June 2023: -31,609 (-24.1% — 8th largest decrease)
> 2022 Population: 22.2 million — 3rd largest

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29. Washington
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2023: 4.6
> Firearm background checks, June 2023: 35,693 — 15th most
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2022: 10.1 — 4th most
> Firearm background checks, June 2022: 78,423 — 5th most
> Change in background checks, June 2022 – June 2023: -42,730 (-54.5% — 2nd largest decrease)
> 2022 Population: 7.8 million — 13th largest

28. Vermont
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2023: 4.8
> Firearm background checks, June 2023: 3,095 — 3rd fewest
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2022: 5.5 — 22nd fewest
> Firearm background checks, June 2022: 3,543 — 3rd fewest
> Change in background checks, June 2022 – June 2023: -448 (-12.6% — 11th smallest decrease)
> 2022 Population: 647,064 — 2nd smallest

27. Minnesota
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2023: 4.8
> Firearm background checks, June 2023: 27,625 — 20th most
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2022: 6.0 — 24th most
> Firearm background checks, June 2022: 34,316 — 20th most
> Change in background checks, June 2022 – June 2023: -6,691 (-19.5% — 20th largest decrease)
> 2022 Population: 5.7 million — 22nd largest

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26. Michigan
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2023: 4.9
> Firearm background checks, June 2023: 49,026 — 8th most
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2022: 5.7 — 24th fewest
> Firearm background checks, June 2022: 57,648 — 8th most
> Change in background checks, June 2022 – June 2023: -8,622 (-15.0% — 17th smallest decrease)
> 2022 Population: 10.0 million — 10th largest

25. Arkansas
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2023: 4.9
> Firearm background checks, June 2023: 15,072 — 20th fewest
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2022: 5.2 — 19th fewest
> Firearm background checks, June 2022: 15,945 — 19th fewest
> Change in background checks, June 2022 – June 2023: -873 (-5.5% — 2nd smallest decrease)
> 2022 Population: 3.0 million — 18th smallest

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24. Missouri
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2023: 5.0
> Firearm background checks, June 2023: 31,160 — 18th most
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2022: 6.2 — 22nd most
> Firearm background checks, June 2022: 38,450 — 18th most
> Change in background checks, June 2022 – June 2023: -7,290 (-19.0% — 22nd largest decrease)
> 2022 Population: 6.2 million — 18th largest

23. North Carolina
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2023: 5.1
> Firearm background checks, June 2023: 54,170 — 5th most
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2022: 4.4 — 11th fewest
> Firearm background checks, June 2022: 47,174 — 11th most
> Change in background checks, June 2022 – June 2023: +6,996 (+14.8% — the largest increase)
> 2022 Population: 10.7 million — 9th largest

22. South Carolina
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2023: 5.1
> Firearm background checks, June 2023: 26,834 — 21st most
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2022: 6.4 — 20th most
> Firearm background checks, June 2022: 33,733 — 22nd most
> Change in background checks, June 2022 – June 2023: -6,899 (-20.5% — 15th largest decrease)
> 2022 Population: 5.3 million — 23rd largest

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21. South Dakota
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2023: 5.1
> Firearm background checks, June 2023: 4,631 — 6th fewest
> Most common type of firearm check: Long guns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2022: 6.3 — 21st most
> Firearm background checks, June 2022: 5,751 — 7th fewest
> Change in background checks, June 2022 – June 2023: -1,120 (-19.5% — 21st largest decrease)
> 2022 Population: 909,824 — 5th smallest

20. Mississippi
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2023: 5.1
> Firearm background checks, June 2023: 15,002 — 19th fewest
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2022: 6.0 — 23rd most
> Firearm background checks, June 2022: 17,767 — 21st fewest
> Change in background checks, June 2022 – June 2023: -2,765 (-15.6% — 18th smallest decrease)
> 2022 Population: 2.9 million — 17th smallest

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19. Arizona
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2023: 5.2
> Firearm background checks, June 2023: 38,066 — 13th most
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2022: 6.0 — 25th most
> Firearm background checks, June 2022: 44,030 — 15th most
> Change in background checks, June 2022 – June 2023: -5,964 (-13.5% — 13th smallest decrease)
> 2022 Population: 7.4 million — 14th largest

18. Connecticut
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2023: 5.2
> Firearm background checks, June 2023: 18,861 — 25th fewest
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2022: 4.6 — 14th fewest
> Firearm background checks, June 2022: 16,736 — 20th fewest
> Change in background checks, June 2022 – June 2023: +2,125 (+12.7% — 2nd smallest increase)
> 2022 Population: 3.6 million — 22nd smallest

17. Maine
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2023: 5.2
> Firearm background checks, June 2023: 7,261 — 10th fewest
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2022: 6.8 — 18th most
> Firearm background checks, June 2022: 9,475 — 10th fewest
> Change in background checks, June 2022 – June 2023: -2,214 (-23.4% — 9th largest decrease)
> 2022 Population: 1.4 million — 9th smallest

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16. North Dakota
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2023: 5.5
> Firearm background checks, June 2023: 4,287 — 5th fewest
> Most common type of firearm check: Long guns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2022: 7.2 — 16th most
> Firearm background checks, June 2022: 5,574 — 5th fewest
> Change in background checks, June 2022 – June 2023: -1,287 (-23.1% — 10th largest decrease)
> 2022 Population: 779,261 — 4th smallest

15. Oklahoma
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2023: 5.6
> Firearm background checks, June 2023: 22,602 — 24th most
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2022: 7.0 — 17th most
> Firearm background checks, June 2022: 28,307 — 23rd most
> Change in background checks, June 2022 – June 2023: -5,705 (-20.2% — 16th largest decrease)
> 2022 Population: 4.0 million — 23rd smallest

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14. New Mexico
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2023: 5.8
> Firearm background checks, June 2023: 12,255 — 18th fewest
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2022: 6.4 — 19th most
> Firearm background checks, June 2022: 13,586 — 16th fewest
> Change in background checks, June 2022 – June 2023: -1,331 (-9.8% — 9th smallest decrease)
> 2022 Population: 2.1 million — 15th smallest

13. Wisconsin
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2023: 6.0
> Firearm background checks, June 2023: 35,575 — 16th most
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2022: 7.7 — 12th most
> Firearm background checks, June 2022: 45,605 — 13th most
> Change in background checks, June 2022 – June 2023: -10,030 (-22.0% — 12th largest decrease)
> 2022 Population: 5.9 million — 20th largest

12. Pennsylvania
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2023: 6.4
> Firearm background checks, June 2023: 83,587 — 4th most
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2022: 8.0 — 11th most
> Firearm background checks, June 2022: 103,964 — 4th most
> Change in background checks, June 2022 – June 2023: -20,377 (-19.6% — 18th largest decrease)
> 2022 Population: 13.0 million — 5th largest

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11. West Virginia
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2023: 6.5
> Firearm background checks, June 2023: 11,459 — 15th fewest
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2022: 7.4 — 15th most
> Firearm background checks, June 2022: 13,106 — 15th fewest
> Change in background checks, June 2022 – June 2023: -1,647 (-12.6% — 10th smallest decrease)
> 2022 Population: 1.8 million — 12th smallest

10. Colorado
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2023: 6.5
> Firearm background checks, June 2023: 38,238 — 11th most
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2022: 7.7 — 13th most
> Firearm background checks, June 2022: 44,846 — 14th most
> Change in background checks, June 2022 – June 2023: -6,608 (-14.7% — 15th smallest decrease)
> 2022 Population: 5.8 million — 21st largest

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9. New Hampshire
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2023: 6.7
> Firearm background checks, June 2023: 9,365 — 13th fewest
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2022: 8.2 — 9th most
> Firearm background checks, June 2022: 11,385 — 12th fewest
> Change in background checks, June 2022 – June 2023: -2,020 (-17.7% — 22nd smallest decrease)
> 2022 Population: 1.4 million — 10th smallest

8. Tennessee
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2023: 7.3
> Firearm background checks, June 2023: 51,625 — 6th most
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2022: 9.4 — 7th most
> Firearm background checks, June 2022: 66,595 — 6th most
> Change in background checks, June 2022 – June 2023: -14,970 (-22.5% — 11th largest decrease)
> 2022 Population: 7.1 million — 15th largest

7. Oregon
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2023: 7.6
> Firearm background checks, June 2023: 32,286 — 17th most
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2022: 8.1 — 10th most
> Firearm background checks, June 2022: 34,190 — 21st most
> Change in background checks, June 2022 – June 2023: -1,904 (-5.6% — 3rd smallest decrease)
> 2022 Population: 4.2 million — 24th smallest

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6. Alabama
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2023: 7.8
> Firearm background checks, June 2023: 39,541 — 10th most
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2022: 10.9 — the most
> Firearm background checks, June 2022: 55,369 — 9th most
> Change in background checks, June 2022 – June 2023: -15,828 (-28.6% — 6th largest decrease)
> 2022 Population: 5.1 million — 24th largest

5. Utah
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2023: 7.9
> Firearm background checks, June 2023: 26,696 — 22nd most
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2022: 7.5 — 14th most
> Firearm background checks, June 2022: 25,344 — 24th most
> Change in background checks, June 2022 – June 2023: +1,352 (+5.3% — the smallest increase)
> 2022 Population: 3.4 million — 21st smallest

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4. Wyoming
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2023: 8.1
> Firearm background checks, June 2023: 4,704 — 7th fewest
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2022: 9.9 — 5th most
> Firearm background checks, June 2022: 5,738 — 6th fewest
> Change in background checks, June 2022 – June 2023: -1,034 (-18.0% — 23rd smallest decrease)
> 2022 Population: 581,381 — the smallest

3. Alaska
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2023: 8.1
> Firearm background checks, June 2023: 5,949 — 9th fewest
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2022: 8.9 — 8th most
> Firearm background checks, June 2022: 6,524 — 8th fewest
> Change in background checks, June 2022 – June 2023: -575 (-8.8% — 7th smallest decrease)
> 2022 Population: 733,583 — 3rd smallest

2. Montana
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2023: 8.2
> Firearm background checks, June 2023: 9,173 — 12th fewest
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2022: 10.2 — 3rd most
> Firearm background checks, June 2022: 11,398 — 13th fewest
> Change in background checks, June 2022 – June 2023: -2,225 (-19.5% — 19th largest decrease)
> 2022 Population: 1.1 million — 8th smallest

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1. Idaho
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2023: 9.7
> Firearm background checks, June 2023: 18,763 — 24th fewest
> Most common type of firearm check: Handguns
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2022: 10.4 — 2nd most
> Firearm background checks, June 2022: 20,177 — 25th fewest
> Change in background checks, June 2022 – June 2023: -1,414 (-7.0% — 4th smallest decrease)
> 2022 Population: 1.9 million — 13th 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 June 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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