Special Report

Where Gun Sales Fell The Fastest Last Month, All 50 States Ranked

Spencer Platt / Getty Images News via Getty Images

After surging to exceptional levels in 2020 and 2021, U.S. demand for handguns, shotguns, and rifles began settling toward pre-pandemic levels in 2022. Now, government data suggests firearm sales have retreated in most states.

24/7 Wall St. used the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System to find the states where gun sales fell the most in June 2023 compared to June last year. The data shows that adjusted-firearm background checks declined in every state except for Utah, Connecticut, Maryland, and North Carolina, which recorded increases of between 5% and 15% in June compared to the same month last year. Firearm background checks serve as a commonly used proxy for U.S. gun sales, but they do not include all firearm transactions. We adjusted background checks by excluding categories that are not necessarily related to the sale of a gun, such as rechecks.

In sixteen states, adjusted-background checks fell by more than 20%, including in three of the country’s most populous states: New York, Florida, and Texas. In Delaware and Washington state, checks fell by more than half. In California, background checks in June declined by 9.2%, or 10,119, compared to the same month last year. 

In all 50 states, the number of adjusted background checks declined by 18.6% in June 2023 compared to June 2022, while the number of background checks for every 1,000 residents was 4.2 in June – between 1.2 in Hawaii and 9.7 in Idaho. This was down from 5.2 per 1,000 residents in June 2022 – between 1.3 in Hawaii and 10.9 in Alabama. 

Even after adjusting background checks, the data is far from complete and should be used only as a rough estimate for gun sales. There is no requirement that federally licensed dealers report sales volume to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, and private gun transactions are exempt from background checks – commonly referred to as the “gun show loophole.” Also, regulations regarding background checks and their reporting vary by state.

Firearm-focused news site The Trace reported in March that according to an ATF report, 465 million guns have been produced for the U.S. non-military market since 1899 through 2020. A conservative estimate that accounts for guns that were broken, confiscated, or illegally exported therefore puts the total number of firearms in circulation at 352 million as of that year. (These are America’s largest gun makers.)

Other estimates are higher. The Firearm Industry Trade Association estimates the number of guns in circulation in the U.S. at 434 million, while the Small Arms Survey put it at nearly 400 million in 2017. Considering the surge in firearm purchases during the pandemic, the number of civilian firearms in circulation has no doubt increased, regardless of the estimate, fueled by demand for handguns. Handguns are the most common firearm used to commit violent crime, including multiple-victim homicides. (Here are America’s most popular 22 caliber handgun companies.)

Here is where gun sales declined in the United States.

Click here to see our detailed methodology.

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

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49. Maryland
> Change in background checks, June 2022-June 2023: +14.8% (+2,773 — 2nd largest increase)
> Firearm background checks, June 2023: 21,484 — 25th most
> Firearm background checks, June 2022: 18,711 — 23rd fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2023: 3.5 — 11th fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2022: 3.0 — 9th fewest
> Most common type of firearm check, June 2023: Handguns
> 2022 population: 6.2 million — 19th largest

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

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

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

45. Arkansas
> Change in background checks, June 2022-June 2023: -5.5% (-873 — 5th smallest decrease)
> Firearm background checks, June 2023: 15,072 — 20th fewest
> Firearm background checks, June 2022: 15,945 — 19th fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2023: 4.9 — 25th most
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2022: 5.2 — 19th fewest
> Most common type of firearm check, June 2023: Handguns
> 2022 population: 3.0 million — 18th smallest

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44. Oregon
> Change in background checks, June 2022-June 2023: -5.6% (-1,904 — 14th smallest decrease)
> Firearm background checks, June 2023: 32,286 — 17th most
> Firearm background checks, June 2022: 34,190 — 21st most
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2023: 7.6 — 7th most
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2022: 8.1 — 10th most
> Most common type of firearm check, June 2023: Handguns
> 2022 population: 4.2 million — 24th smallest

43. Idaho
> Change in background checks, June 2022-June 2023: -7.0% (-1,414 — 12th smallest decrease)
> Firearm background checks, June 2023: 18,763 — 24th fewest
> Firearm background checks, June 2022: 20,177 — 25th fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2023: 9.7 — the most
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2022: 10.4 — 2nd most
> Most common type of firearm check, June 2023: Handguns
> 2022 population: 1.9 million — 13th smallest

42. New Jersey
> Change in background checks, June 2022-June 2023: -7.6% (-986 — 6th smallest decrease)
> Firearm background checks, June 2023: 11,971 — 16th fewest
> Firearm background checks, June 2022: 12,957 — 14th fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2023: 1.3 — 2nd fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2022: 1.4 — 2nd fewest
> Most common type of firearm check, June 2023: Handguns
> 2022 population: 9.3 million — 11th largest

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41. Nebraska
> Change in background checks, June 2022-June 2023: -8.0% (-444 — 2nd smallest decrease)
> Firearm background checks, June 2023: 5,101 — 8th fewest
> Firearm background checks, June 2022: 5,545 — 4th fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2023: 2.6 — 8th fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2022: 2.8 — 7th fewest
> Most common type of firearm check, June 2023: Long guns
> 2022 population: 2.0 million — 14th smallest

40. Alaska
> Change in background checks, June 2022-June 2023: -8.8% (-575 — 4th smallest decrease)
> Firearm background checks, June 2023: 5,949 — 9th fewest
> Firearm background checks, June 2022: 6,524 — 8th fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2023: 8.1 — 3rd most
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2022: 8.9 — 8th most
> Most common type of firearm check, June 2023: Handguns
> 2022 population: 733,583 — 3rd smallest

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39. California
> Change in background checks, June 2022-June 2023: -9.2% (-10,119 — 9th largest decrease)
> Firearm background checks, June 2023: 99,556 — 3rd most
> Firearm background checks, June 2022: 109,675 — 3rd most
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2023: 2.6 — 7th fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2022: 2.8 — 6th fewest
> Most common type of firearm check, June 2023: Handguns
> 2022 population: 39.0 million — the largest

38. New Mexico
> Change in background checks, June 2022-June 2023: -9.8% (-1,331 — 11th smallest decrease)
> Firearm background checks, June 2023: 12,255 — 18th fewest
> Firearm background checks, June 2022: 13,586 — 16th fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2023: 5.8 — 14th most
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2022: 6.4 — 19th most
> Most common type of firearm check, June 2023: Handguns
> 2022 population: 2.1 million — 15th smallest

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

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36. Vermont
> Change in background checks, June 2022-June 2023: -12.6% (-448 — 3rd smallest decrease)
> Firearm background checks, June 2023: 3,095 — 3rd fewest
> Firearm background checks, June 2022: 3,543 — 3rd fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2023: 4.8 — 23rd fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2022: 5.5 — 22nd fewest
> Most common type of firearm check, June 2023: Handguns
> 2022 population: 647,064 — 2nd smallest

35. Massachusetts
> Change in background checks, June 2022-June 2023: -13.2% (-2,431 — 20th smallest decrease)
> Firearm background checks, June 2023: 16,046 — 21st fewest
> Firearm background checks, June 2022: 18,477 — 22nd fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2023: 2.3 — 5th fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2022: 2.6 — 5th fewest
> Most common type of firearm check, June 2023: Handguns
> 2022 population: 7.0 million — 16th largest

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34. Arizona
> Change in background checks, June 2022-June 2023: -13.5% (-5,964 — 21st largest decrease)
> Firearm background checks, June 2023: 38,066 — 13th most
> Firearm background checks, June 2022: 44,030 — 15th most
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2023: 5.2 — 19th most
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2022: 6.0 — 25th most
> Most common type of firearm check, June 2023: Handguns
> 2022 population: 7.4 million — 14th largest

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

32. Colorado
> Change in background checks, June 2022-June 2023: -14.7% (-6,608 — 20th largest decrease)
> Firearm background checks, June 2023: 38,238 — 11th most
> Firearm background checks, June 2022: 44,846 — 14th most
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2023: 6.5 — 10th most
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2022: 7.7 — 13th most
> Most common type of firearm check, June 2023: Handguns
> 2022 population: 5.8 million — 21st largest

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31. Illinois
> Change in background checks, June 2022-June 2023: -14.9% (-8,811 — 11th largest decrease)
> Firearm background checks, June 2023: 50,481 — 7th most
> Firearm background checks, June 2022: 59,291 — 7th most
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2023: 4.0 — 16th fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2022: 4.7 — 16th fewest
> Most common type of firearm check, June 2023: Handguns
> 2022 population: 12.6 million — 6th largest

30. Michigan
> Change in background checks, June 2022-June 2023: -15.0% (-8,622 — 12th largest decrease)
> Firearm background checks, June 2023: 49,026 — 8th most
> Firearm background checks, June 2022: 57,648 — 8th most
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2023: 4.9 — 25th fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2022: 5.7 — 24th fewest
> Most common type of firearm check, June 2023: Handguns
> 2022 population: 10.0 million — 10th largest

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

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

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

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26. Virginia
> Change in background checks, June 2022-June 2023: -17.7% (-8,210 — 13th largest decrease)
> Firearm background checks, June 2023: 38,170 — 12th most
> Firearm background checks, June 2022: 46,380 — 12th most
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2023: 4.4 — 19th fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2022: 5.3 — 20th fewest
> Most common type of firearm check, June 2023: Handguns
> 2022 population: 8.7 million — 12th largest

25. New Hampshire
> Change in background checks, June 2022-June 2023: -17.7% (-2,020 — 16th smallest decrease)
> Firearm background checks, June 2023: 9,365 — 13th fewest
> Firearm background checks, June 2022: 11,385 — 12th fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2023: 6.7 — 9th most
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2022: 8.2 — 9th most
> Most common type of firearm check, June 2023: Handguns
> 2022 population: 1.4 million — 10th smallest

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

23. Indiana
> Change in background checks, June 2022-June 2023: -18.5% (-6,924 — 17th largest decrease)
> Firearm background checks, June 2023: 30,504 — 19th most
> Firearm background checks, June 2022: 37,428 — 19th most
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2023: 4.5 — 20th fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2022: 5.5 — 23rd fewest
> Most common type of firearm check, June 2023: Handguns
> 2022 population: 6.8 million — 17th largest

22. Missouri
> Change in background checks, June 2022-June 2023: -19.0% (-7,290 — 15th largest decrease)
> Firearm background checks, June 2023: 31,160 — 18th most
> Firearm background checks, June 2022: 38,450 — 18th most
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2023: 5.0 — 24th most
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2022: 6.2 — 22nd most
> Most common type of firearm check, June 2023: Handguns
> 2022 population: 6.2 million — 18th largest

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21. South Dakota
> Change in background checks, June 2022-June 2023: -19.5% (-1,120 — 9th smallest decrease)
> Firearm background checks, June 2023: 4,631 — 6th fewest
> Firearm background checks, June 2022: 5,751 — 7th fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2023: 5.1 — 21st most
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2022: 6.3 — 21st most
> Most common type of firearm check, June 2023: Long guns
> 2022 population: 909,824 — 5th smallest

20. Minnesota
> Change in background checks, June 2022-June 2023: -19.5% (-6,691 — 19th largest decrease)
> Firearm background checks, June 2023: 27,625 — 20th most
> Firearm background checks, June 2022: 34,316 — 20th most
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2023: 4.8 — 24th fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2022: 6.0 — 24th most
> Most common type of firearm check, June 2023: Handguns
> 2022 population: 5.7 million — 22nd largest

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19. Montana
> Change in background checks, June 2022-June 2023: -19.5% (-2,225 — 18th smallest decrease)
> Firearm background checks, June 2023: 9,173 — 12th fewest
> Firearm background checks, June 2022: 11,398 — 13th fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2023: 8.2 — 2nd most
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2022: 10.2 — 3rd most
> Most common type of firearm check, June 2023: Handguns
> 2022 population: 1.1 million — 8th smallest

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

17. Ohio
> Change in background checks, June 2022-June 2023: -19.8% (-10,352 — 8th largest decrease)
> Firearm background checks, June 2023: 41,962 — 9th most
> Firearm background checks, June 2022: 52,314 — 10th most
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2023: 3.6 — 12th fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2022: 4.4 — 13th fewest
> Most common type of firearm check, June 2023: Handguns
> 2022 population: 11.8 million — 7th largest

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

15. South Carolina
> Change in background checks, June 2022-June 2023: -20.5% (-6,899 — 18th largest decrease)
> Firearm background checks, June 2023: 26,834 — 21st most
> Firearm background checks, June 2022: 33,733 — 22nd most
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2023: 5.1 — 22nd most
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2022: 6.4 — 20th most
> Most common type of firearm check, June 2023: Handguns
> 2022 population: 5.3 million — 23rd largest

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14. Texas
> Change in background checks, June 2022-June 2023: -20.7% (-29,140 — 3rd largest decrease)
> Firearm background checks, June 2023: 111,722 — the most
> Firearm background checks, June 2022: 140,862 — the most
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2023: 3.7 — 13th fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2022: 4.7 — 15th fewest
> Most common type of firearm check, June 2023: Handguns
> 2022 population: 30.0 million — 2nd largest

13. Iowa
> Change in background checks, June 2022-June 2023: -21.3% (-2,004 — 15th smallest decrease)
> Firearm background checks, June 2023: 7,393 — 11th fewest
> Firearm background checks, June 2022: 9,397 — 9th fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2023: 2.3 — 6th fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2022: 2.9 — 8th fewest
> Most common type of firearm check, June 2023: Handguns
> 2022 population: 3.2 million — 20th smallest

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

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

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

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

8. Florida
> Change in background checks, June 2022-June 2023: -24.1% (-31,609 — 2nd largest decrease)
> Firearm background checks, June 2023: 99,736 — 2nd most
> Firearm background checks, June 2022: 131,345 — 2nd most
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2023: 4.5 — 21st fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2022: 5.9 — 25th fewest
> Most common type of firearm check, June 2023: Handguns
> 2022 population: 22.2 million — 3rd largest

7. Louisiana
> Change in background checks, June 2022-June 2023: -28.2% (-6,999 — 16th largest decrease)
> Firearm background checks, June 2023: 17,816 — 23rd fewest
> Firearm background checks, June 2022: 24,815 — 25th most
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2023: 3.9 — 15th fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2022: 5.4 — 21st fewest
> Most common type of firearm check, June 2023: Handguns
> 2022 population: 4.6 million — 25th largest

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

5. Nevada
> Change in background checks, June 2022-June 2023: -35.3% (-5,532 — 23rd smallest decrease)
> Firearm background checks, June 2023: 10,143 — 14th fewest
> Firearm background checks, June 2022: 15,675 — 18th fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2023: 3.2 — 9th fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2022: 4.9 — 17th fewest
> Most common type of firearm check, June 2023: Handguns
> 2022 population: 3.2 million — 19th smallest

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4. Rhode Island
> Change in background checks, June 2022-June 2023: -37.2% (-1,059 — 8th smallest decrease)
> Firearm background checks, June 2023: 1,785 — the fewest
> Firearm background checks, June 2022: 2,844 — 2nd fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2023: 1.6 — 4th fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2022: 2.6 — 4th fewest
> Most common type of firearm check, June 2023: Handguns
> 2022 population: 1.1 million — 7th smallest

3. New York
> Change in background checks, June 2022-June 2023: -38.6% (-16,392 — 5th largest decrease)
> Firearm background checks, June 2023: 26,044 — 23rd most
> Firearm background checks, June 2022: 42,436 — 17th most
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2023: 1.3 — 3rd fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2022: 2.2 — 3rd fewest
> Most common type of firearm check, June 2023: Handguns
> 2022 population: 19.7 million — 4th largest

2. Washington
> Change in background checks, June 2022-June 2023: -54.5% (-42,730 — the largest decrease)
> Firearm background checks, June 2023: 35,693 — 15th most
> Firearm background checks, June 2022: 78,423 — 5th most
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2023: 4.6 — 22nd fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2022: 10.1 — 4th most
> Most common type of firearm check, June 2023: Handguns
> 2022 population: 7.8 million — 13th largest

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1. Delaware
> Change in background checks, June 2022-June 2023: -57.3% (-5,613 — 23rd largest decrease)
> Firearm background checks, June 2023: 4,189 — 4th fewest
> Firearm background checks, June 2022: 9,802 — 11th fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2023: 4.1 — 17th fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, June 2022: 9.6 — 6th most
> Most common type of firearm check, June 2023: Handguns
> 2022 population: 1.0 million — 6th smallest

Methodology

To identify the states where gun sales are decreasing fastest, 24/7 Wall St. used data from the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System, looking at the states with the largest percentage decrease in adjusted-firearm background checks from June 2022 to 2023. To reach a more accurate approximation of gun sales, we excluded checks for such categories as 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, background checks still serve only as a rough approximation, because every state has different background checks laws and accounting practices.

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 of checks. Illinois no longer breaks down background checks separately, but did so 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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