Map shows US states with the most guns and gun owners
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Map shows US states with the most guns and gun owners

Map shows US states with the most guns and gun owners

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According to one analysis, Americans purchased nearly 5.5 million firearms in the first four months of 2024, and nearly half a million of them were sold in Florida.

Floridians purchased 429,664 firearms from January through April, according to an analysis of data from the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) by SafeHomes.org, a security product review site. That puts us second in the country, just behind Texas (448,034) and ahead of much more populous California (340,903).

By April 2024, Florida, Texas and California combined accounted for 22% of all firearms sold, the analysis found.

In June, the U.S. surgeon general declared gun violence a public health crisis, issuing a 39-page advisory on initiatives to prevent gun deaths. The advisory said the rate of gun-related deaths “reached a nearly three-decade high in 2021.”

Florida, which passed a law in March 2023 allowing concealed carry without a permit, saw a 1% increase in gun sales last year. The Sunshine State was one of only four states to see an increase, with an estimated 1,316,471 sales in 2023, according to the report. But that’s nothing compared to North Carolina, said Gabriele, which saw a 112% increase in gun sales after its concealed carry bill was killed in March 2023 by the GOP-led Legislature, overriding a Democratic governor’s veto.

Other sources reported lower rates. An analysis by The Carolina Journal found that the state saw a 19.2% increase in background checks, behind North Dakota (37.3%) and Hawaii (26.1%), and a report by The Charlotte Observer confirmed that.

Previously, North Carolina sheriffs were required to conduct character assessments and criminal history checks on anyone who wanted to buy a firearm. Supporters of the change said that was unnecessary because federal background checks were still required and a large backlog often delayed approvals for months.

Increases were also seen in Illinois (5%), despite a new ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and New Hampshire (3%), which has not made any changes to its firearms laws.

Meanwhile, the District of Columbia saw a 32% drop in firearm sales in 2023, Gabriele said, the same year it tightened background checks and firearm registration laws. Other states that have recently enacted gun control measures have seen their own reductions, including Delaware (18%) and New York (15%). But Louisiana, which did not see any significant gun control cuts in 2023, also saw a 15% drop in firearm sales last year.

As of July 4, 2024, it will be legal for a non-felon in Louisiana to carry a concealed weapon without a permit.

Which states sold the most guns in 2023?

According to an analysis of NICS data by SafeHomes, the following states had the most firearms sold in 2023:

  • Texas: 1,347,589 (7% decrease)
  • Florida: 1,316,471 (1% increase)
  • California: 1,043,421 (2% decrease)
  • Pennsylvania: 841,523 (7% decrease)
  • Tennessee: 633,015 (4% ​​decrease)
  • Ohio: 583,314 (4% decrease)
  • Virginia: 581,698 (5% decrease)
  • Michigan: 555,650 (3% decrease)
  • Missouri: 520,488 (6% decrease)
  • Illinois: 504,452 (5% increase)

Legal firearm sales nationwide fell slightly last year

Gun sales nationwide actually fell in 2023, said Rob Gabriele, managing editor of SafeHomes. About 16.7 million firearms were sold in the U.S. last year, the report said, down 4% from 2022. About a third of Americans say they own a gun, according to Pew Research.

Which states sold the most guns based on population?

When adjusted for population, Montana, Wyoming and Alaska have the highest rates of gun sales, according to the SafeHomes report.

“These states have strong hunting traditions, nurtured by a rural lifestyle and relaxed gun control laws,” Gabriele said. “The pro-gun culture and the need for self-defense in such remote areas, which are rife with predators that can harm livestock, may also contribute to increased gun ownership and sales.”

The top 10 states on the list had more than 1,000 guns sold per 10,000 residents age 21 and older. By comparison, in 2023, only 767 guns were sold per 10,000 residents age 21 and older in Florida.

  • Montana: 134,008 (1,586 sold per 10,000 inhabitants aged 21+)
  • Wyoming: 65,102 (1,523 sold per 10,000 inhabitants aged 21+)
  • Alaska: 80,341 (1,514 sold per 10,000 inhabitants aged 21+)
  • Oregon: 446,556 (1,372 sold per 10,000 inhabitants aged 21+)
  • Alabama: 487,077 (1,302 sold per 10,000 inhabitants aged 21+)
  • New Hampshire: 136,502 (1,252 sold per 10,000 residents aged 21+)
  • Tennessee: 633,015 (1,207 sold per 10,000 inhabitants aged 21+)
  • West Virginia: 163,057 (1,205 sold per 10,000 inhabitants aged 21+)
  • North Dakota: 66,933 (1,194 sold per 10,000 inhabitants aged 21+)
  • Idaho: 160,120 (1,149 sold per 10,000 inhabitants aged 21+)

Gun violence hits record high

More than 48,000 people will die from gun violence in 2022, according to U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, an increase of 16,000 deaths compared with 2010. During the same time, firearm-related suicides rose 20%, including a “staggering increase” in such deaths among young people, the warning noted.

Murthy said gun violence requires a public health approach, not a polarizing political response.

Gun violence has become the leading cause of death among children, and adults in the U.S. fear that they or a loved one will become a victim, according to Reuters. More than half of U.S. adults said they or a family member had experienced a gun-related incident, according to a 2023 KFF report.

Florida leads the nation in mass shootings

As of the afternoon of July 10, Florida had seen 22 mass shootings this year, out of 284 nationwide, according to the nonprofit Gun Violence Archive. That’s more than any other state, followed by 21 in Illinois and 19 in California.

The GVA (and Congressional Research Service) defines a mass shooting solely by the number of people shot in the incident: four or more, not including the shooter. The GVA’s numbers — which have been disputed by pro-gun organizations — may differ from the FBI or CDC’s numbers because they collect data from 7,500 law enforcement, government, and media agencies, the site explains.