Americans Bought The Most Guns This Year
Americans Bought The Most Guns This Year

According to the Constitution of the United States, “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed”. Written into the social fabric of the nation, firearms have become synonymous with American freedoms and culture. However, the relationship with guns and the people of the United States has become increasingly complicated in modern America.

Where in The U.S Are Guns Most Popular?

American civilians own an estimated 393 million firearms, both legal and illegal, according to the Small Arms Survey. However, only 1 in 3 Americans report owning a gun, while 44 percent live in homes where a gun is present. That means most gun owners have more than one gun.

California, the nation’s largest state, ranks third by the sheer number of estimated gun sales (about 1.2 million), while Texas and Florida, two other huge-population states, are in the top three, both with estimated sales over 1.6 million. Virginia, which is the 12th-biggest state, ranks sixth for gun sales (about 778,000), and Alabama, 23rd in population, is 10th in estimated gun sales (about 678,000).

Wyoming, which ranks second to last for total estimated gun purchases, has the highest population-adjusted rate by just over 14 points, while Montana is second, and Alaska is a close third; less than one point separates Montana and Alaska. Another Western state, Idaho, is also in the top 10, while four Southern states are near the top of the list as well. Alabama is the only state to appear in the top 10 both for absolute sales and population-adjusted sales rates, while Iowa, Nebraska, and D.C. appear in the bottom 10 of both lists. D.C.'s rate of 6.5 per 1,000 inhabitants is just a fraction of Wyoming’s, and it’s about one-third the rate of the second-to-last state, Iowa.

Gun sales by state or territory for the first 11 months of this year

  • Alabama (854,080)
  • Alaska (83,567)
  • Arizona (515,778)
  • Arkansas (259,459)
  • California (1,351,076)
  • Colorado (574,023)
  • Connecticut (257,179)
  • Delaware (62,907)
  • District of Columbia (11,660)
  • Florida (1,560,757)
  • Georgia (738,311)
  • Guam (4,138)
  • Hawaii (16,245)
  • Idaho (248,986)
  • Illinois (8,036,858)
  • Indiana (1,698,198)
  • Iowa (245,795)
  • Kansas (207,939)
  • Kentucky (3,473,035)
  • Louisiana (360,707)
  • Maine (117,261)
  • Mariana Islands (323)
  • Maryland (246,090)
  • Massachusetts (240,538)
  • Michigan (893,501)
  • Minnesota (873,639)
  • Mississippi (286,796)
  • Missouri (572,875)
  • Montana (145,842)
  • Nebraska (82,564)
  • Nevada (171,980)
  • New Hampshire (138,693)
  • New Jersey (209,839)
  • New Mexico (177,022)
  • New York (425,778)
  • North Carolina (716,542)
  • North Dakota (73,996)
  • Ohio (776,813)
  • Oklahoma (373,193)
  • Oregon (414,935)
  • Pennsylvania (1,287,678)
  • Puerto Rico (67,489)
  • Rhode Island (35,144)
  • South Carolina (443,095)
  • South Dakota (97,847)
  • Tennessee (871,590)
  • Texas (1,794,401)
  • Utah (1,090,028)
  • Vermont (46,966)
  • Virgin Islands (1,965)
  • Virginia (592,584)
  • Washington (667,831)
  • West Virginia (201,157)
  • Wisconsin (719,957)
  • Wyoming (76,182)

How many guns are sold in the U.S every year?

Amazing  Facts About Gun Sales in the U.S
Retail Gun Sales

Americans have purchased more than 18 million guns so far this year, making 2021 the second-busiest year for firearm sales in at least two decades.

However, Gun sales plunged in November, down 25% from the same month in 2020 to 2,217,458, according to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).

The annual U.S. total for the first 11 months of 2021 is flat with the same period last year at 35.7 million. Based on data for the past several months, after several years during which U.S. gun sales rose, capped by a 2020 surge blamed mostly on the COVID-19 pandemic and civil unrest, in 2021, the rise has tapered off.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation tracks gun sales and publishes a list of how many are handled as part of its NICS. Each month, the figures are reported by state. Nearly everyone put through this system qualifies as a buyer. People who are excluded usually have criminal records. Of the more than 350 million checks that have been done since 1998, there have only been 2 million denials. Therefore, the data is the best proxy for U.S. gun sales available.

It is not clear why sales have started to fall. However, the reason for the surge last year into the first half of 2021 has been analyzed closely.

The composition of gun buyers also has changed. CNN reports: “In 2020, half of all gun buyers were women, researchers say. One-fifth were Hispanic, and one-fifth were Black, according to the Northeastern University & Harvard Injury Control Research Center.” The COVID-19 pandemic and recent social unrest also have been given as reasons.

Despite what could be a drop this year, gun sales have increased most years since 1999. Annual sales first topped 25 million in 2016, 20 million in 2013, 15 million in 2011 and 10 million in 2006. In 1999, the first full year the FBI kept data, sales totaled 9,138,123.

The state with the most gun sales in November was Kentucky, with 372,237. That is 17% of national sales, though the state has only 1.3% of the population.

Since the FBI started to keep its National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) in November 1998, gun sales have steadily risen.

It is not clear why sales have started to fall. However, the reason for the surge last year into the first half of 2021 has been analyzed closely. According to The Guardian, about one in five new gun sales are to first-time buyers.

The composition of gun buyers also has changed. CNN reports: “In 2020, half of all gun buyers were women, researchers say. One-fifth were Hispanic, and one-fifth were Black, according to the Northeastern University & Harvard Injury Control Research Center.” The COVID-19 pandemic and recent social unrest also have been given as reasons.

And, it is not entirely clear why sales spiked in 2020. Social unrest and the COVID-19 pandemic are often given as reasons, but there is no solid proof that either is the case.

These are total gun sales by year since 1999:

  • 1999: 9,138,123
  • 2000: 8,543,037
  • 2001: 8,910,191
  • 2002: 8,454,322
  • 2003: 8,481,588
  • 2004: 8,687,671
  • 2005: 8,952,945
  • 2006: 10,036,933
  • 2007: 11,177,335
  • 2008: 12,709,023
  • 2009: 14,033,824
  • 2010: 14,409,616
  • 2011: 16,454,951
  • 2012: 19,592,303
  • 2013: 21,093,273
  • 2014: 20,968,547
  • 2015: 23,141,970
  • 2016: 27,538,673
  • 2017: 25,235,215
  • 2018: 26,181,936
  • 2019: 28,369,750
  • 2020: 39,695,315
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Gun Sales and New Tax

Some policymakers and advocates say this approach could raise revenue to fund lifesaving violence prevention programs and help offset the the $280 billion annual price tag of gun violence in America. After a year that saw a record-high 21 million gun sales (revealed by data on background checks) and record-high gun deaths (34,274 in 2021 alone, per Gun Violence Archive data), some are revisiting how a tax scheme could be used to mitigate the carnage seen in places such as schools, grocery stores and homes.

A particularly bloody summer in California this year led lawmakers to propose a tax on guns and ammo to generate revenue specifically to fund community-based prevention programs. AB1223, which would have added an excise tax of 10% on handgun sales and 11% on long guns, precursor parts and ammunition, fell four votes short of advancing by super majority in the state Assembly last summer, but it's set to be re-introduced in January.

Republican opponents of the bill have argued it's unconstitutional.

Similar initiatives to tax guns or ammo have been made at the local level in Seattle and in Cook County, Illinois, and both have faced rocky rollouts and strong resistance from the gun industry.

In Seattle, a measure requiring retailers to pay a $25 tax on each firearm sold and a few cents per round of ammunition was passed by city lawmakers in 2015, with the proceeds to be used for gun violence-related programs. It's been challenged, but the Washington Supreme Court has rejected the most recent case against overturning it.

In Cook County, which includes Chicago, a similar $25 tax on firearm sales and up to a 5-cent tax on ammunition cartridges approved in 2012 was struck down by the Illinois Supreme Court earlier this month. The Illinois high court ruled that the taxes violate the uniformity clause of the state's constitution, which means the government must establish that the tax classification is substantially related to the object of the legislation.

Firearm ownership

In 2020, a survey found that around 42 percent of households in the U.S. reported owning one or more firearms. This makes the United States the most heavily armed civilian population in the world. A different survey from 2018 found that 18 percent of gun owners stated they carry a gun on themselves daily, while only 42 percent of gun owners stated they never carry a gun.

The majority of surveyed men, 51 percent, report living in a gun-owning household, and 45 percent personally own a gun. For women, these figures are slightly lower. Gun ownership is a highly partisan issue in the United States, with Republicans supporting the right of all Americans to own a gun, while Democrats tend to favor stricter gun control policies. With this in mind, it is perhaps unsurprising that 64 percent of Republicans report living in a gun-owning household, while only 31 percent of Democrats say the same. Personal gun ownership is quite low for Democrats, with 18 percent reporting personally owning a gun in 2020.

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Firearms and crime

Public disagreement over laws of firearm ownership has stemmed from the high number of firearm-related crimes, accidental deaths, and the proliferation of mass shootings. More than 73.6 percent of homicides in the United States in 2019 involved the use of a firearm. The state of affairs appears even more troublesome for Black Americans. In 2016, the rate of gun deaths for Black male Americans was over double that of white Americans.

The United States has a severe societal problem in the number of mass shootings that occur in the country. In response, there have been repeated calls for bans on assault-style weapons, bump fire stocks, and high-capacity ammunition magazines. In early 2021, it was found that 50 percent of all registered voters strongly supported a ban on assault-style weapons, however only 26 percent of Republicans supported such a ban, while 71 percent of Democrats did, highlighting the political divide of this issue.

Gun Deaths

Guns are also the most common method by which Americans take their own lives, and gun-related injuries killed nearly 40,000 people in 2019, the most recent year for which the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has published data.

Where are the rates of gun-related deaths the highest, including intentional and unintentional deaths as well as law enforcement intervention and other causes? Generally, gun homicide rates are highest in the South, while gun suicide rates are highest in the West. For example, the South’s average gun homicide rate is 7.5 per 100,000, which is about 83 percent higher than the next-highest region (the Midwest at 4.1 per 100,000). On the other hand, gun-related suicides occur at an average rate of about 11.4 per 100,000 in the West, about 24 percent higher than any other region (the South is second at 9.1 per 100,000).

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