In the wake of record-high gun sales during the pandemic, the firearm ownership rate in the U.S. is the highest it has been in years. According to a Gallup poll, 45% of American households had at least one firearm as of October 2022. This marks the highest recorded household-level gun ownership rate since December 1993.
While most gun owners have no intention of engaging in criminal activity, the proliferation of firearms in American households increases the likelihood of a gun falling into the wrong hands, particularly through theft. Each year, thousands of guns are stolen out of homes and vehicles in the United States. Stolen firearms are often sold on the black market, and a portion of them are ultimately used to commit crimes. (Here is a look at the number of guns Americans have purchased every year since 1986.)
Between 2017 and 2021, more than 1 million firearms were stolen in the U.S., according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. These thefts are far more common in some parts of the country than in others.
Using data from the ATF’s report National Firearms Commerce and Trafficking Assessment (NFCTA): Crime Guns – Volume Two,, 24/7 Wall St. identified the states with the highest firearm theft rates. States are ranked by the average annual number of guns stolen from private citizens between 2017 to 2021 for every 100,000 people in the state. Thefts from gun stores and gunmakers were not considered.
Depending on the state, the average number of guns stolen each year ranges from 5.4 for every 100,000 people to 185.1 guns stolen per 100,000. Regional differences in firearm theft rates across the United States are often stark. Southern states, for example, accounted for over 60% of all incidents of firearm theft from 2017 to 2021, while states in the Northeast accounted for less than 5%.
The five firearm calibers most likely to be stolen – .45, .22, .380, .40, and 9mm – are all popular varieties of semi-automatic handguns. This type of firearm accounted for over 70% of all reported firearm thefts in the U.S. in the last five years. (Here is a look at the most powerful handguns.)
Sponsored: Find a Qualified Financial Advisor
Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to 3 fiduciary financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes. Each advisor has been vetted by SmartAsset and is held to a fiduciary standard to act in your best interests. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.