Gun sales, as approximated by background checks, surged in 2020 to 39,695,315 just as the COVID-19 pandemic began. They have declined each year since, to 38,876,673 in 2021 and to 31,596,646 in 2022. Still, these numbers remain higher than pre-pandemic levels.
The FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System publishes a monthly list of how many firearm background checks are conducted on potential gun buyers. Nearly everyone put through this system qualifies. Of the more than 400 million checks conducted since November 1998, there have only been 2.1 million denials. More than half of those who are denied have criminal records.
Adjusting for population, there were 94.8 background checks per 1,000 people nationwide in 2022. The per capita background check data varies considerably by state.
In Rhode Island, 27,900 background checks were conducted in 2022 based on FBI data. Adjusted for population, this amounts to about 25.5 firearm background checks for every 1,000 people, the fourth lowest rate among states.
Estimated per capita gun sales in the state in 2021, approximated by background checks, totaled 37,936, or about 34.7 per person, compared to the national rate of 116.6 per 1,000 people.
Population data used to calculate background checks per capita came from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Population and Housing Unit Estimates Program, and are for July of 2022. It is important to note that in some states, certain firearm permit rechecks require FBI background checks, which can impact the overall number of background checks used to create this ranking.
|Rank||State||FBI firearm background checks per 1,000 people, 2022||Total FBI firearm background checks, 2022||FBI firearm background checks per 1,000 people, 2021||Total FBI firearm background checks, 2021|
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