11 States Where Gun Sales Are Still Skyrocketing

An annual gun control law scorecard published by the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence rated the majority of states F for their gun control policies. The report gave only two states, California and New Jersey, an A. Arkansas received the worst score of any state. Most of the states receiving F grades for gun policy were in the South, the Midwest, or the Mountain West. (These are  the states with the weakest gun laws.)

Despite scoring worse for gun laws, those states also tended to have more background checks initiated compared to the higher-scoring states – but that is likely less of a reflection of solid enforcement than of the sheer volume of guns purchased in those states.

To identify the states where gun sales are increasing most, 24/7 Wall St. used data from the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Eleven states reported increases in adjusted firearm background checks between March 2022 and March 2023. To reach a more accurate approximation of gun sales, we excluded checks for such categories as pawn shop transactions, returns, rentals, and rechecks (which are conducted periodically by some states on existing permit holders).

Even after removing some types of checks that are clearly unrelated to new firearm purchases, background checks still serve only as a rough approximation, because every state has different background checks laws and accounting practices. (These were the best-selling guns last year.)

Click here to see the states where gun sales are still skyrocketing.
Click here to see our detailed methodology.

The states that reported the largest increases in background checks this March compared to the same period in 2022 include both states that tend to rank relatively low in checks per capita each month and those that rank among the highest. Hawaii, which ranks third in checks per person, reported a 30% increase in checks. Meanwhile, Oregon, which ranks second-highest among states in background checks per person, reported a 47% increase in checks this March over March 2022. (These are the states where the most people bought guns in March.)

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