About 2.6 million firearm background checks were initiated in the United States this January, according to data compiled by the FBI, a slight increase from January 2022, when 2.5 million checks were conducted. Background checks are often used as a proxy for measuring gun sales in the United States. However, there are a number of reasons background checks are initiated that are clearly not tied to the sale of a gun, such as pawn shop transactions and rentals. (These are the states with the weakest gun laws.)
After removing these categories of sales, as well as rechecks, there were an estimated 1.6 million background checks tied to the purchase of a gun in January, a 7% increase compared to January 2022. At the state level, all but 10 reported an increase as well, with one state reporting an 80% increase, and another a 133% rise in checks compared to the previous year.
To identify the states where gun sales are increasing fastest, 24/7 Wall St. identified the 20 states with the largest percent increase in adjusted gun firearm background checks. To get closer to an accurate approximation of 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.
The states that reported the largest increases in background checks in January compared to the same period in 2022 include both states that tend to rank relatively low each month in checks and those that rank among the highest in sales per capita each month. The latter category includes states like New Hampshire, West Virginia, and Oregon, the last of which reported an increase in adjusted background checks from 26,120 in January 2022 to 55,581 in January 2023, equal to 13.1 checks per 1,000 residents, the highest in the country and more than double the rate of 5.0 per 1,000 people across the 50 states. (These are the states where the most people bought guns in January)
Click here to see our detailed methodology.
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