States Where The Most People Bought Guns Last Month
Tennessee continues to reel from the school shooting last week that left three children and three faculty dead. That event was just the latest mass killing in the United States – an event which has been a near-weekly occurrence this year. At the time of this writing, there have been 13 mass murders – shootings leaving at least four innocent people dead – this year, and 128 more events, in which four or more people are shot but there were no fatalities.
The country is on track to come close to the 690 such incidents in 2021, the record in the decade since the Gun Violence Archive began tracking these events, and likely of all time. Enacting some gun control measures last year, President Joe Biden signed into law a measure that enhances background checks for those under the age of 21. But with that, he told reporters last month, ““I have gone the full extent of my executive authority to do, on my own, anything about guns.”
In March, just under three million firearm background checks were conducted in the United States, according to data compiled by the FBI. That figure represents a substantial increase of more than 450,000 checks, or 18%, more than the 2.5 million that were conducted in February. But last month’s figure is more or less in line with that of March of 2022.
Background checks are often used to approximate the level of gun sales. However, checks can also be initiated for reasons that are not tied to gun sales, including rentals and pawn shop transactions. (See the best-selling guns last year.)
To find the states where the most people bought guns last month, 24/7 Wall St. used data from the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System. States are ranked based on the number of gun background checks in March 2023 per 1,000 people in each state. To get closer to an accurate reflection of true gun sales, we excluded several categories of checks, including pawn shop transactions, returns, rentals, and rechecks, which are conducted periodically by some states on existing permit holders. After these adjustments, the remaining 2 million background checks – amounting to about 5.9 checks per 1,000 residents nationwide – are more likely to be tied to the sale of a gun.
Click here to see a detailed methodology.
Click here to see the states where the most people bought guns last month.
Firearm background checks are a frequent key topic in the debate over gun control policy in the United States. Currently, the federal government only requires background checks before the sale of guns at federally licensed arms dealers and not at private gun shops. Many states have their own additional policies. Fifteen states (and Washington, D.C.) required a criminal background check for the sale of all firearms, and another four mandate checks only for the sale of handguns. (These are the countries Americans buy the most handguns from.)
Based on March’s background checks data, states in the Midwest, the South, and the West bought the most guns per capita. On the other end of the list, four of the six states with the fewest background checks per 1,000 residents were in the Northeast. Hawaii ranked lowest, with just 1,722 permit checks initiated, or 1.6 per 1,000 people.
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