Special Report

States Where Gun Sales Are Plummeting This Year: All 50 States Ranked

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After a period of soaring firearm purchases in the United States brought on by the turbulence during the pandemic years, gun sales in many states have declined, based on data from the FBI. 

According to FBI’s data, background checks jumped from 28.4 million in 2019 to 39.7 million in 2020 and remained elevated at 38.9 million in 2021. Background checks declined to 31.6 million in 2022, and data so far this year suggests that background checks will likely stay at about that level in 2023. Gun sales appear to be down in the majority of states, while they are rising in nearly a dozen others.

To identify the states where gun sales are decreasing this year, 24/7 Wall St. used data from the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System. We ranked the states based on the percent change in background checks so far in 2023 compared to the same period in 2022, from the largest increase to the largest drop. To reach a more accurate approximation of gun sales, we adjusted background checks by excluding checks for such categories as pawn shop transactions, returns, rentals, and rechecks. Even after these adjustments, background checks still serve only as a rough approximation because every state has different accounting practices and background check laws. (These are the companies selling the most guns.)

The states with the biggest decreases in background checks so far this year compared with the same period in 2022 include states where guns are popular, and those where that is decidedly not the case. 

Four of the 10 states with the largest declines in background checks through July are Southern states. Alabama had the biggest percentage drop in total number of background checks, down 22.1%, or 88,884 checks. The state, however, ranks fourth-most in firearm background checks per 1,000 residents at 61.8. It was first through the same period last year at 79.3. Starting on Jan. 1, 2023, people in Alabama are permitted to carry a concealed handgun without a state permit requiring a background check. (Here is how hard it is to buy a handgun in every state.)

The Northeastern states of Delaware, New York, and Rhode Island also ranked in the top 10 of states with the biggest percentage decreases in background checks through July.

For the second straight year, Hawaii had the fewest background checks from January to July and the fewest firearm background checks per 1,000 residents over the same period.

Click here to see states where gun sales fell the most this year, all 50 states ranked.

Click here to see our detailed methodology.

50. Maryland
> Change in background checks, Jan-July 2022 to Jan-July 2023: +51.9% (+69,262 — 3rd largest increase)
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2023: 202,773 — 21st most
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2022: 133,511 — 22nd fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2023: 32.9 — 16th fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2022: 21.7 — 8th fewest
> Most common type of firearm check, Jan-July 2023: Handguns
> 2022 population: 6.2 million — 19th largest

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49. Oregon
> Change in background checks, Jan-July 2022 to Jan-July 2023: +35.5% (+80,782 — the largest increase)
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2023: 308,048 — 13th most
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2022: 227,266 — 21st most
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2023: 72.7 — the most
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2022: 53.6 — 12th most
> Most common type of firearm check, Jan-July 2023: Handguns
> 2022 population: 4.2 million — 24th smallest

48. Hawaii
> Change in background checks, Jan-July 2022 to Jan-July 2023: +20.9% (+2,278 — 5th smallest increase)
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2023: 13,200 — the fewest
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2022: 10,922 — the fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2023: 9.2 — the fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2022: 7.6 — the fewest
> Most common type of firearm check, Jan-July 2023: No data available
> 2022 population: 1.4 million — 11th smallest

47. North Carolina
> Change in background checks, Jan-July 2022 to Jan-July 2023: +20.8% (+69,442 — 2nd largest increase)
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2023: 403,483 — 7th most
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2022: 334,041 — 12th most
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2023: 37.7 — 25th most
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2022: 31.2 — 13th fewest
> Most common type of firearm check, Jan-July 2023: Handguns
> 2022 population: 10.7 million — 9th largest

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46. Illinois
> Change in background checks, Jan-July 2022 to Jan-July 2023: +11.7% (+51,637 — 4th largest increase)
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2023: 494,741 — 5th most
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2022: 443,103 — 7th most
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2023: 39.3 — 24th most
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2022: 35.2 — 17th fewest
> Most common type of firearm check, Jan-July 2023: Handguns
> 2022 population: 12.6 million — 6th largest

45. Utah
> Change in background checks, Jan-July 2022 to Jan-July 2023: +9.9% (+15,683 — 5th largest increase)
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2023: 173,537 — 25th most
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2022: 157,854 — 25th most
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2023: 51.3 — 14th most
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2022: 46.7 — 18th most
> Most common type of firearm check, Jan-July 2023: Handguns
> 2022 population: 3.4 million — 21st smallest

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44. Nebraska
> Change in background checks, Jan-July 2022 to Jan-July 2023: +5.2% (+2,177 — 4th smallest increase)
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2023: 44,390 — 9th fewest
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2022: 42,213 — 7th fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2023: 22.6 — 7th fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2022: 21.5 — 7th fewest
> Most common type of firearm check, Jan-July 2023: Long guns
> 2022 population: 2.0 million — 14th smallest

43. Idaho
> Change in background checks, Jan-July 2022 to Jan-July 2023: +1.8% (+2,353 — 6th largest increase)
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2023: 135,569 — 23rd fewest
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2022: 133,216 — 21st fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2023: 69.9 — 2nd most
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2022: 68.7 — 2nd most
> Most common type of firearm check, Jan-July 2023: Handguns
> 2022 population: 1.9 million — 13th smallest

42. Iowa
> Change in background checks, Jan-July 2022 to Jan-July 2023: +0.9% (+667 — 3rd smallest increase)
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2023: 73,029 — 13th fewest
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2022: 72,362 — 11th fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2023: 22.8 — 8th fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2022: 22.6 — 9th fewest
> Most common type of firearm check, Jan-July 2023: Handguns
> 2022 population: 3.2 million — 20th smallest

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41. New Jersey
> Change in background checks, Jan-July 2022 to Jan-July 2023: +0.4% (+395 — 2nd smallest increase)
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2023: 96,065 — 16th fewest
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2022: 95,670 — 16th fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2023: 10.4 — 3rd fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2022: 10.3 — 2nd fewest
> Most common type of firearm check, Jan-July 2023: Handguns
> 2022 population: 9.3 million — 11th largest

40. West Virginia
> Change in background checks, Jan-July 2022 to Jan-July 2023: +0.1% (+116 — the smallest increase)
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2023: 96,141 — 17th fewest
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2022: 96,025 — 17th fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2023: 54.2 — 9th most
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2022: 54.1 — 10th most
> Most common type of firearm check, Jan-July 2023: Handguns
> 2022 population: 1.8 million — 12th smallest

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39. Colorado
> Change in background checks, Jan-July 2022 to Jan-July 2023: -0.1% (-451 — the smallest decrease)
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2023: 304,311 — 14th most
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2022: 304,762 — 15th most
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2023: 52.1 — 11th most
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2022: 52.2 — 13th most
> Most common type of firearm check, Jan-July 2023: Handguns
> 2022 population: 5.8 million — 21st largest

38. Arkansas
> Change in background checks, Jan-July 2022 to Jan-July 2023: -0.6% (-724 — 2nd smallest decrease)
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2023: 112,326 — 19th fewest
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2022: 113,050 — 19th fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2023: 36.9 — 24th fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2022: 37.1 — 20th fewest
> Most common type of firearm check, Jan-July 2023: Handguns
> 2022 population: 3.0 million — 18th smallest

37. Massachusetts
> Change in background checks, Jan-July 2022 to Jan-July 2023: -1.1% (-1,448 — 3rd smallest decrease)
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2023: 130,867 — 22nd fewest
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2022: 132,315 — 20th fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2023: 18.7 — 6th fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2022: 19.0 — 6th fewest
> Most common type of firearm check, Jan-July 2023: Handguns
> 2022 population: 7.0 million — 16th largest

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36. California
> Change in background checks, Jan-July 2022 to Jan-July 2023: -1.6% (-11,049 — 17th smallest decrease)
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2023: 693,517 — 3rd most
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2022: 704,566 — 4th most
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2023: 17.8 — 5th fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2022: 18.1 — 5th fewest
> Most common type of firearm check, Jan-July 2023: Handguns
> 2022 population: 39.0 million — the largest

35. New Mexico
> Change in background checks, Jan-July 2022 to Jan-July 2023: -2.8% (-2,648 — 7th smallest decrease)
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2023: 91,041 — 15th fewest
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2022: 93,689 — 15th fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2023: 43.1 — 19th most
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2022: 44.3 — 21st most
> Most common type of firearm check, Jan-July 2023: Handguns
> 2022 population: 2.1 million — 15th smallest

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34. New Hampshire
> Change in background checks, Jan-July 2022 to Jan-July 2023: -3.2% (-2,446 — 5th smallest decrease)
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2023: 73,001 — 12th fewest
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2022: 75,447 — 13th fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2023: 52.3 — 10th most
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2022: 54.1 — 11th most
> Most common type of firearm check, Jan-July 2023: Handguns
> 2022 population: 1.4 million — 10th smallest

33. Michigan
> Change in background checks, Jan-July 2022 to Jan-July 2023: -3.3% (-13,859 — 19th largest decrease)
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2023: 403,395 — 8th most
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2022: 417,254 — 8th most
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2023: 40.2 — 23rd most
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2022: 41.6 — 24th most
> Most common type of firearm check, Jan-July 2023: Handguns
> 2022 population: 10.0 million — 10th largest

32. Pennsylvania
> Change in background checks, Jan-July 2022 to Jan-July 2023: -5.4% (-38,295 — 7th largest decrease)
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2023: 669,223 — 4th most
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2022: 707,518 — 3rd most
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2023: 51.6 — 13th most
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2022: 54.5 — 9th most
> Most common type of firearm check, Jan-July 2023: Handguns
> 2022 population: 13.0 million — 5th largest

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31. Kansas
> Change in background checks, Jan-July 2022 to Jan-July 2023: -5.8% (-5,941 — 13th smallest decrease)
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2023: 96,862 — 18th fewest
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2022: 102,803 — 18th fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2023: 33.0 — 17th fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2022: 35.0 — 16th fewest
> Most common type of firearm check, Jan-July 2023: Handguns
> 2022 population: 2.9 million — 16th smallest

30. Vermont
> Change in background checks, Jan-July 2022 to Jan-July 2023: -5.9% (-1,492 — 4th smallest decrease)
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2023: 23,862 — 3rd fewest
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2022: 25,354 — 3rd fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2023: 36.9 — 23rd fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2022: 39.2 — 23rd fewest
> Most common type of firearm check, Jan-July 2023: Handguns
> 2022 population: 647,064 — 2nd smallest

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29. Oklahoma
> Change in background checks, Jan-July 2022 to Jan-July 2023: -6.1% (-11,432 — 18th smallest decrease)
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2023: 177,041 — 24th most
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2022: 188,473 — 23rd most
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2023: 44.0 — 16th most
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2022: 46.9 — 17th most
> Most common type of firearm check, Jan-July 2023: Handguns
> 2022 population: 4.0 million — 23rd smallest

28. Virginia
> Change in background checks, Jan-July 2022 to Jan-July 2023: -6.2% (-19,731 — 16th largest decrease)
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2023: 298,268 — 15th most
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2022: 317,999 — 14th most
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2023: 34.3 — 19th fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2022: 36.6 — 18th fewest
> Most common type of firearm check, Jan-July 2023: Handguns
> 2022 population: 8.7 million — 12th largest

27. Montana
> Change in background checks, Jan-July 2022 to Jan-July 2023: -6.2% (-4,678 — 12th smallest decrease)
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2023: 70,220 — 11th fewest
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2022: 74,898 — 12th fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2023: 62.5 — 3rd most
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2022: 66.7 — 4th most
> Most common type of firearm check, Jan-July 2023: Handguns
> 2022 population: 1.1 million — 8th smallest

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26. Alaska
> Change in background checks, Jan-July 2022 to Jan-July 2023: -6.4% (-2,852 — 8th smallest decrease)
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2023: 41,584 — 8th fewest
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2022: 44,436 — 8th fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2023: 56.7 — 7th most
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2022: 60.6 — 6th most
> Most common type of firearm check, Jan-July 2023: Handguns
> 2022 population: 733,583 — 3rd smallest

25. Arizona
> Change in background checks, Jan-July 2022 to Jan-July 2023: -6.5% (-19,233 — 17th largest decrease)
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2023: 276,494 — 17th most
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2022: 295,727 — 16th most
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2023: 37.6 — 25th fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2022: 40.2 — 25th fewest
> Most common type of firearm check, Jan-July 2023: Handguns
> 2022 population: 7.4 million — 14th largest

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24. Maine
> Change in background checks, Jan-July 2022 to Jan-July 2023: -7.1% (-4,388 — 11th smallest decrease)
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2023: 56,986 — 10th fewest
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2022: 61,374 — 10th fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2023: 41.1 — 22nd most
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2022: 44.3 — 22nd most
> Most common type of firearm check, Jan-July 2023: Handguns
> 2022 population: 1.4 million — 9th smallest

23. Ohio
> Change in background checks, Jan-July 2022 to Jan-July 2023: -7.6% (-28,281 — 13th largest decrease)
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2023: 342,586 — 10th most
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2022: 370,867 — 10th most
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2023: 29.1 — 13th fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2022: 31.5 — 14th fewest
> Most common type of firearm check, Jan-July 2023: Handguns
> 2022 population: 11.8 million — 7th largest

22. Florida
> Change in background checks, Jan-July 2022 to Jan-July 2023: -8.2% (-67,573 — 3rd largest decrease)
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2023: 759,276 — 2nd most
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2022: 826,849 — 2nd most
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2023: 34.1 — 18th fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2022: 37.2 — 21st fewest
> Most common type of firearm check, Jan-July 2023: Handguns
> 2022 population: 22.2 million — 3rd largest

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21. Georgia
> Change in background checks, Jan-July 2022 to Jan-July 2023: -8.4% (-27,146 — 14th largest decrease)
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2023: 297,508 — 16th most
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2022: 324,654 — 13th most
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2023: 27.3 — 10th fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2022: 29.7 — 11th fewest
> Most common type of firearm check, Jan-July 2023: Handguns
> 2022 population: 10.9 million — 8th largest

20. Kentucky
> Change in background checks, Jan-July 2022 to Jan-July 2023: -8.6% (-13,284 — 19th smallest decrease)
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2023: 140,978 — 24th fewest
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2022: 154,262 — 25th fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2023: 31.2 — 14th fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2022: 34.2 — 15th fewest
> Most common type of firearm check, Jan-July 2023: Handguns
> 2022 population: 4.5 million — 25th smallest

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19. Minnesota
> Change in background checks, Jan-July 2022 to Jan-July 2023: -9.2% (-25,006 — 15th largest decrease)
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2023: 246,553 — 20th most
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2022: 271,559 — 19th most
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2023: 43.1 — 17th most
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2022: 47.5 — 16th most
> Most common type of firearm check, Jan-July 2023: Handguns
> 2022 population: 5.7 million — 22nd largest

18. Washington
> Change in background checks, Jan-July 2022 to Jan-July 2023: -9.2% (-40,902 — 5th largest decrease)
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2023: 403,077 — 9th most
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2022: 443,979 — 6th most
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2023: 51.8 — 12th most
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2022: 57.0 — 8th most
> Most common type of firearm check, Jan-July 2023: Handguns
> 2022 population: 7.8 million — 13th largest

17. Texas
> Change in background checks, Jan-July 2022 to Jan-July 2023: -9.3% (-85,267 — 2nd largest decrease)
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2023: 835,509 — the most
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2022: 920,776 — the most
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2023: 27.8 — 11th fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2022: 30.7 — 12th fewest
> Most common type of firearm check, Jan-July 2023: Handguns
> 2022 population: 30.0 million — 2nd largest

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16. Wisconsin
> Change in background checks, Jan-July 2022 to Jan-July 2023: -9.6% (-34,070 — 9th largest decrease)
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2023: 319,305 — 11th most
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2022: 353,375 — 11th most
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2023: 54.2 — 8th most
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2022: 60.0 — 7th most
> Most common type of firearm check, Jan-July 2023: Handguns
> 2022 population: 5.9 million — 20th largest

15. Wyoming
> Change in background checks, Jan-July 2022 to Jan-July 2023: -9.8% (-3,724 — 9th smallest decrease)
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2023: 34,376 — 5th fewest
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2022: 38,100 — 5th fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2023: 59.1 — 6th most
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2022: 65.5 — 5th most
> Most common type of firearm check, Jan-July 2023: Handguns
> 2022 population: 581,381 — the smallest

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14. Mississippi
> Change in background checks, Jan-July 2022 to Jan-July 2023: -9.9% (-13,509 — 20th largest decrease)
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2023: 123,293 — 20th fewest
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2022: 136,802 — 23rd fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2023: 41.9 — 20th most
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2022: 46.5 — 19th most
> Most common type of firearm check, Jan-July 2023: Handguns
> 2022 population: 2.9 million — 17th smallest

13. North Dakota
> Change in background checks, Jan-July 2022 to Jan-July 2023: -10.1% (-4,050 — 10th smallest decrease)
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2023: 36,243 — 6th fewest
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2022: 40,293 — 6th fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2023: 46.5 — 15th most
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2022: 51.7 — 14th most
> Most common type of firearm check, Jan-July 2023: Long guns
> 2022 population: 779,261 — 4th smallest

12. Missouri
> Change in background checks, Jan-July 2022 to Jan-July 2023: -10.4% (-29,606 — 12th largest decrease)
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2023: 254,914 — 18th most
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2022: 284,520 — 17th most
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2023: 41.3 — 21st most
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2022: 46.1 — 20th most
> Most common type of firearm check, Jan-July 2023: Handguns
> 2022 population: 6.2 million — 18th largest

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11. Connecticut
> Change in background checks, Jan-July 2022 to Jan-July 2023: -10.6% (-14,729 — 18th largest decrease)
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2023: 124,583 — 21st fewest
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2022: 139,312 — 24th fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2023: 34.4 — 20th fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2022: 38.4 — 22nd fewest
> Most common type of firearm check, Jan-July 2023: Handguns
> 2022 population: 3.6 million — 22nd smallest

10. Indiana
> Change in background checks, Jan-July 2022 to Jan-July 2023: -10.8% (-30,466 — 11th largest decrease)
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2023: 250,604 — 19th most
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2022: 281,070 — 18th most
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2023: 36.7 — 22nd fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2022: 41.1 — 25th most
> Most common type of firearm check, Jan-July 2023: Handguns
> 2022 population: 6.8 million — 17th largest

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9. Nevada
> Change in background checks, Jan-July 2022 to Jan-July 2023: -11.6% (-10,524 — 16th smallest decrease)
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2023: 80,263 — 14th fewest
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2022: 90,787 — 14th fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2023: 25.3 — 9th fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2022: 28.6 — 10th fewest
> Most common type of firearm check, Jan-July 2023: Handguns
> 2022 population: 3.2 million — 19th smallest

8. Tennessee
> Change in background checks, Jan-July 2022 to Jan-July 2023: -11.8% (-56,651 — 4th largest decrease)
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2023: 423,979 — 6th most
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2022: 480,630 — 5th most
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2023: 60.1 — 5th most
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2022: 68.2 — 3rd most
> Most common type of firearm check, Jan-July 2023: Handguns
> 2022 population: 7.1 million — 15th largest

7. South Dakota
> Change in background checks, Jan-July 2022 to Jan-July 2023: -14.8% (-6,826 — 14th smallest decrease)
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2023: 39,208 — 7th fewest
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2022: 46,034 — 9th fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2023: 43.1 — 18th most
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2022: 50.6 — 15th most
> Most common type of firearm check, Jan-July 2023: Long guns
> 2022 population: 909,824 — 5th smallest

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6. Rhode Island
> Change in background checks, Jan-July 2022 to Jan-July 2023: -15.3% (-2,576 — 6th smallest decrease)
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2023: 14,288 — 2nd fewest
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2022: 16,864 — 2nd fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2023: 13.1 — 4th fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2022: 15.4 — 4th fewest
> Most common type of firearm check, Jan-July 2023: Handguns
> 2022 population: 1.1 million — 7th smallest

5. New York
> Change in background checks, Jan-July 2022 to Jan-July 2023: -16.1% (-38,461 — 6th largest decrease)
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2023: 199,873 — 22nd most
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2022: 238,334 — 20th most
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2023: 10.2 — 2nd fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2022: 12.1 — 3rd fewest
> Most common type of firearm check, Jan-July 2023: Long guns
> 2022 population: 19.7 million — 4th largest

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4. South Carolina
> Change in background checks, Jan-July 2022 to Jan-July 2023: -16.9% (-38,211 — 8th largest decrease)
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2023: 188,089 — 23rd most
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2022: 226,300 — 22nd most
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2023: 35.6 — 21st fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2022: 42.8 — 23rd most
> Most common type of firearm check, Jan-July 2023: Handguns
> 2022 population: 5.3 million — 23rd largest

3. Louisiana
> Change in background checks, Jan-July 2022 to Jan-July 2023: -18.6% (-33,836 — 10th largest decrease)
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2023: 147,693 — 25th fewest
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2022: 181,529 — 24th most
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2023: 32.2 — 15th fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2022: 39.5 — 24th fewest
> Most common type of firearm check, Jan-July 2023: Handguns
> 2022 population: 4.6 million — 25th largest

2. Delaware
> Change in background checks, Jan-July 2022 to Jan-July 2023: -21.5% (-8,068 — 15th smallest decrease)
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2023: 29,418 — 4th fewest
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2022: 37,486 — 4th fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2023: 28.9 — 12th fewest
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2022: 36.8 — 19th fewest
> Most common type of firearm check, Jan-July 2023: Handguns
> 2022 population: 1.0 million — 6th smallest

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1. Alabama
> Change in background checks, Jan-July 2022 to Jan-July 2023: -22.1% (-88,884 — the largest decrease)
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2023: 313,353 — 12th most
> Firearm background checks, Jan-July 2022: 402,237 — 9th most
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2023: 61.8 — 4th most
> Firearm background checks per 1,000 residents, Jan-July 2022: 79.3 — the most
> Most common type of firearm check, Jan-July 2023: Handguns
> 2022 population: 5.1 million — 24th largest

Methodology

To identify the states where gun sales are decreasing this year, 24/7 Wall St. used data from the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System. We ranked the states based on the percent change in background checks in 2023 compared to the same period in 2022, from the largest increase to the largest decrease. 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 new firearm purchases, background checks still serve only as a rough approximation, because every state has different laws in terms of when background checks are required and different 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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