Special Report

How the Gun Trafficking Problem in North Dakota Compares to Other States

The United States has nearly 121 guns per 100 people, according to the Small Arms Survey, a Swiss-based research project. That figure may be higher today since it was reported in the organization’s report published in 2018 and was already an increase from 88 guns per 100 people in 2011. (These are states with the most gun purchases per person.)

With so many firearms legally or illegally moving around the country, law enforcement agencies often seek to identify the origin and history of firearms they discover at crime scenes. This job falls to the National Tracing Center of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

The ATF traced the origin of 656 firearms in North Dakota in 2020, and of those, 33.4%, or 219 guns, originated from out of state, the 13th largest share among states.

Of the 219 firearms traced in North Dakota in 2020 that came from a different state, the largest share – 41 – were originally sold in Minnesota.

It is important to note that not all firearms are traced. Tracing occurs when the ATF or any other U.S. law enforcement agency discovers a firearm at a crime scene and wants to learn where it came from. A trace uses the gun’s serial number to identify the wholesale and retail history of the gun back to its original manufacturer or importer. Firearms with illegally removed serial numbers can be traced using forensic expertise and technology, according to the ATF.

 

Rank State Share of traced firearms from out of state; 2020 (%) Traced firearms from out of state; 2020 Total firearms recovered and traced; 2020 Top supplier state; 2020 Firearms from top supplier state; 2020
1 New Jersey 88.5 3,738 4,225 Pennsylvania 431
2 New York 87.5 6,344 7,254 Georgia 632
3 Massachusetts 78.8 1,043 1,324 New Hampshire 172
4 Connecticut 58.3 458 786 Georgia 72
5 Maryland 55.2 3,509 6,357 Virginia 1,070
6 Hawaii 54.3 38 70 California 6
7 Wyoming 50.5 100 198 Colorado 14
8 Illinois 50.2 5,881 11,708 Indiana 1,954
9 Rhode Island 46.0 150 326 Massachusetts 17
10 California 44.9 12,352 27,536 Arizona 3,352
11 Nebraska 34.8 603 1,735 Iowa 154
12 Idaho 34.2 336 983 Washington 51
13 North Dakota 33.4 219 656 Minnesota 41
14 Pennsylvania 32.9 2,910 8,850 Massachusetts 270
15 Delaware 31.4 375 1,195 Pennsylvania 111
16 South Dakota 31.2 178 570 North Dakota 17
17 Nevada 29.5 1,494 5,060 California 315
18 Colorado 29.4 1,528 5,197 Texas 238
19 Minnesota 29.3 950 3,247 Wisconsin 178
20 Iowa 28.2 582 2,062 Illinois 71
21 Tennessee 28.0 2,923 10,427 Mississippi 784
22 Kansas 27.8 837 3,006 Missouri 351
23 Vermont 27.2 62 228 New Hampshire 26
24 Washington 26.2 1,067 4,071 Oregon 224
25 Montana 24.6 234 953 Washington 24
26 North Carolina 24.3 3,726 15,352 South Carolina 927
27 Oregon 23.8 952 4,001 Washington 224
28 West Virginia 23.6 393 1,668 Ohio 95
29 Arkansas 21.8 608 2,788 Texas 122
30 Kentucky 21.8 1,017 4,673 Indiana 240
31 South Carolina 21.2 1,690 7,969 North Carolina 290
32 Utah 20.9 468 2,236 Nevada 47
33 New Hampshire 20.9 108 517 Maine 26
34 New Mexico 20.1 577 2,869 Texas 173
35 Florida 20.0 4,515 22,530 Georgia 818
36 Missouri 19.9 1,575 7,918 Kansas 512
37 Mississippi 19.7 760 3,856 Louisiana 133
38 Oklahoma 19.7 567 2,877 Texas 153
39 Georgia 19.5 3,193 16,409 Alabama 497
40 Michigan 19.1 1,818 9,504 Ohio 292
41 Louisiana 18.6 1,715 9,201 Texas 525
42 Alabama 17.6 1,155 6,574 Georgia 256
43 Maine 17.3 81 469 New Hampshire 19
44 Ohio 16.2 2,277 14,072 Kentucky 501
45 Indiana 15.8 1,136 7,174 Kentucky 203
46 Arizona 15.8 1,423 8,994 California 171
47 Wisconsin 15.6 773 4,963 Illinois 98
48 Virginia 15.3 1,517 9,910 North Carolina 259
49 Texas 14.1 4,473 31,827 Louisiana 747
50 Alaska 13.1 84 643 Florida 9

 

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