Drugs, Homicide, and More: The Biggest Crimes Tied to Guns in Every State

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives traces over 450,000 guns likely linked to a crime in the United States each year. Each of these traced firearms is assigned one of 59 specific categories that describe the circumstances in which it was recovered by law enforcement. 

Because each of these categories is tied to a firearm that has been confiscated or otherwise obtained by law enforcement, the most commonly cited classifications are those that necessarily involve a firearm. These include “carrying a concealed weapon” and “possession of a weapon.” However, the vast majority of ATF categories for traced firearms are criminal acts that do not, by definition, need to involve a gun. (These are America’s 10 biggest gun makers)

Using 2021 ATF gun tracing data, 24/7 Wall St. identified the types of crimes in every state that most commonly involve the use of a gun in 2021, the most recent year of data available. We only considered categories that were explicitly criminal acts, excluding those which, by definition, will always involve a firearm, such as weapon possession. 

In the vast majority of states, the category most commonly cited by the ATF are incidents involving drugs. A total of more than 63,000 firearms traced by the ATF in 2021 were linked exclusively to drug related incidents. 

Other common circumstances on this list include traffic offenses, domestic disputes, burglary, aggravated assault, suicide, and homicide. (Here is a look at the firearm calibers used the most to commit crimes in the U.S.)

Click here to see the most common gun-related crimes in each state. 

Click here to see our detailed methodology.

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