This Is How Many Guns Were Sold in All 50 States

This Is How Many Guns Were Sold in All 50 States

February 3, 2021

U.S. gun sales in January surged 60% to 4,137,480. This makes it the largest single month since figures started to be recorded in 1998.

The rise is part of a trend. Gun sales in the United States rose 40% last year to 39,695,315. The figure also represents the high water mark in gun sales since the current record-keeping system went into effect. Increases by state in January varied substantially, as has been the case for years.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation tracks gun sales and publishes a list of how many are handled as part of its National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Each month, the figures are reported by state. Nearly everyone put through this system qualifies as a buyer. People who are excluded usually have criminal records. Of the more than 310 million checks that have been done since 1998, there have only been 1.5 million denials. Therefore, the data is the best proxy for U.S. gun sales available.

Growing civil unrest may have prompted people to buy guns for personal and family protection, many social scientists have posited, although this remains a matter of debate. Another theory is that chaos brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic is a major cause. A new UC Davis School of Medicine study about fear of violence reports: “The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated persistent structural, economic, and social inequities in the conditions that contribute to violence and its consequences.”

Who bought these guns? CBS News pointed out that over 5 million people were first-time gun buyers last year. CNN reported a sharp rise in sales to Black Americans and women. “Sales to women are also up 40% through September when compared with the same period last year,” the news network pointed out.

The January increase should not be taken as unusual, nor should the rise in gun sales from 2019 to 2020 be viewed as an anomaly. The number of gun sales has increased most years since 1999. Sales first topped 25 million in 2016, 20 million in 2013, 15 million in 2011 and 10 million in 2006. The first full year the FBI kept data was 1999, when total sales were 9,138,123.

The state with the most sales in January was Illinois at an extraordinary 1,002,118. That is 24% of national sales for the month. However, the state has slightly less than 4% of the national population. The same pattern holds true for the state that had the second-highest gun sales figure last month. Kentucky’s figure hit 421,790, or just over 10% of the national total. Its population is only 1.3% of the U.S. number.

At the current pace, gun sales in America will reach almost 50 million this year. It is too early to say whether the January trend will continue. However, it is nearly assured that 2021 will set another annual record.

Here’s how much gun sales rose in all 50 states last year.

This is how many guns were sold in each state in January:

State/TerritoryJanuary 2021 Sales
Alabama105,602
Alaska9,018
Arizona60,548
Arkansas30,085
California134,432
Colorado65,051
Connecticut25,606
Delaware7,408
District of Columbia1,076
Florida190,817
Georgia92,903
Guam304
Hawaii1,504
Idaho28,243
Illinois1,002,118
Indiana262,684
Iowa34,313
Kansas26,195
Kentucky421,790
Louisiana40,266
Maine13,693
Mariana Islands27
Maryland31,014
Massachusetts29,570
Michigan120,227
Minnesota87,583
Mississippi34,093
Missouri72,234
Montana18,154
Nebraska10,509
Nevada19,266
New Hampshire19,214
New Jersey28,230
New Mexico19,689
New York49,184
North Carolina86,017
North Dakota8,662
Ohio98,651
Oklahoma48,278
Oregon49,755
Pennsylvania160,116
Puerto Rico4,377
Rhode Island5,190
South Carolina52,622
South Dakota12,571
Tennessee94,262
Texas212,208
Utah101,167
Vermont6,012
Virgin Islands154
Virginia72,451
Washington73,369
West Virginia26,626
Wisconsin73,836
Wyoming9,266

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