Americans bought 5.5 million guns to start 2024: These states sold the most (2024)

Sara Chernikoff,C. A. BridgesUSA TODAY

Earlier this week, the U.S. surgeon general declared gun violence a public health crisis, issuing a 39 page advisory on initiatives to prevent firearm deaths. The advisory said the rate of firearm-related deaths “reached a near three-decade high in 2021."

About a third of American's say they personally own a gun, Pew Research data shows. That statistic reflects the deep-rooted culture of gun ownership in the U.S. Another report found that in the first four months of 2024, nearly 5.5. million firearms were purchased in the country.

It may come as no surprise that Texas - the second most populated state in the nation - accounted for the largest share of firearms purchased by any state, nearly half a million or 9% of all guns sold through April 2024.

Data from the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System(NICS) was analyzed by SafeHomes.org, a safety product review site, to determine which states had the largest ownership of recently purchased firearms.

Nationwide legal gun sales declined slightly last year

Nationwide gun sales decreased in 2023, SafeHomes managing editor Rob Gabriele said. About 16.7 million firearms were sold in the U.S. last year, the report said, down 4% from 2022.

Florida, which passed a law to allowpermitless concealed carryin March 2023, saw gun sales go up 1% last year. The Sunshine State was one of only four states to see an increase, with 1,316,471 estimated sales in 2023, according to the report. But that was nothing compared to North Carolina, Gabriele said, which saw a 112% increase in gun sales aftertheir pistol permit law was eliminated in March 2023by the GOP-led legislature, overriding the Democratic governor's veto.

The other states to see an increase in SafeHome's report were Illinois (5%), despite a new ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and New Hampshire (3%), which had no new changes in their gun laws.

Meanwhile, the District of Columbia saw a 32% decrease in firearms sales in 2023, Gabriele said, the same year it tightened itsfirearm background check and registration laws. Other states with recent gun control measures saw their own reductions, including Delaware (18%), and New York (15%). But Louisiana, which didn't see any significant gun control restrictions in 2023, also saw a drop of 15% in firearm sales last year.

As of July 4, 2024,carrying a concealed gun by a non-felonin Louisiana will be legal without a permit.

Which states sold the most guns in 2023?

The states that sold the most guns last year is largely reflected by its population size. The top three states that sold the most guns in 2023 are also the most populated.

According to SafeHomes' analysis of NICS data, these are the states with the most firearms sales in 2023:

  1. Texas:1,347,589
  2. Florida:1,316,471
  3. California:1,043,421
  4. Pennsylvania:841,523
  5. Tennessee:633,015
  6. Ohio:583,314
  7. Virginia:581,698
  8. Michigan:555,650
  9. Missouri:520,488
  10. Illinois:504,452

Which states sold the most guns, adjusted for population?

Adjusted for population, Montana, Wyoming and Alaska have the highest gun sales rates in SafeHomes' report.

"These states have strong hunting traditions fostered by rural lifestyles and less rigid gun control laws," Gabriele said. "The pro-gun cultures and the need for self-defense in such remote areas, which abound in predators that could harm livestock, may also contribute to higher gun ownership and sales."

The following states had the highest rate of gun sales, adjusted for population.

  • Montana:1,586 sold per 10,000 residents aged 21+
  • Wyoming: 1,523 sold per 10,000 residents aged 21+
  • Alaska:1,514 sold per 10,000 residents aged 21+
  • Oregon: 1,372 sold per 10,000 residents aged 21+
  • Alabama:1,302 sold per 10,000 residents aged 21+
  • New Hampshire:1,252 sold per 10,000 residents aged 21+
  • Tennessee:1,207 sold per 10,000 residents aged 21+
  • West Virginia:1,205 sold per 10,000 residents aged 21+
  • North Dakota:1,194 sold per 10,000 residents aged 21+
  • Idaho:1,149 sold per 10,000 residents aged 21+

A look at the statistics: Gun violence is a public health crisis, surgeon general says

Gun violence reaches an all-time-high

According to U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, more than 48,000 people died by gun violence in 2022 - that's an increase of 16,000 deaths compared to 2010. At the same time, firearm-related suicides have increased by 20%, including a “staggering increase” in such deaths among young people, the advisory noted.

Murthy said gun violence demands a public health approach rather than the polarizing political response.

Gun violence became theleading cause of death in children and U.S. adults are worried that they or a loved one will become a victim, according to Reuters. More than half of U.S. adults said that they or a family member experienced a firearm-related incident, a 2023 report from KFF found.

Contributing: Eduardo Cuevas and Jeanine Santucci

Americans bought 5.5 million guns to start 2024: These states sold the most (2024)
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