States Where the Most People Have Bought Guns So Far in 2023

Nearly 18 million firearm background checks were conducted in the United States this year through July, according to data compiled by the FBI. That figure is more or less in line with the same period in 2022, when the FBI performed 31.6 million background checks in the entire year. Since 1998, the year with the most background checks was 2020 — the first year of the pandemic — when the FBI managed 39.7 million background checks. Firearm background checks are often used to approximate the level of gun sales in the United States. (These are America’s most popular .22 handgun companies.

There are, however, many reasons to initiate a background check, some of which are not tied to gun sales, including pawn shop transactions and rentals. After controlling for some of these non-purchase causes, the adjusted figure is more likely tied to the acquisition of a firearm, and in the first seven months of the year, there were 11.2 million adjusted background checks, or 33.6 per 1,000 Americans. (These are America’s largest gun makers.)

To find the states where the most people bought guns so far this year, 24/7 Wall St. used data from the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System. States are ranked based on the number of background gun checks per 1,000 people in the first seven months of 2023, adjusted by removing several categories of checks, including pawn shop transactions, returns, rentals, and rechecks (which are conducted periodically by some states on existing permit holders). 

Last November, voters in Oregon passed a measure that banned the use of firearm magazines holding more than 10 bullets among other regulations that would add safeguards to who can buy and operate a gun in the state. Gun rights advocates have challenged the legislation, and a circuit court judge placed a stay on the measure. The legislation will remain blocked until the resolution of a state court trial, which is slated to resume in September. 

That pending legislation is likely a factor behind the rush to buy guns in the state. No state bought more guns per capita so far this year than Oregon. From January through July, an estimated 308,000 background checks that are likely tied directly to the sale of a gun were conducted in Oregon, equal to 72.7 per 1,000 state residents. That figure is a 35.3% increase compared with the same period in 2022, the second largest in the nation.

Four other Western states have among the highest percentages of background checks, among them Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and Alaska.

Click here to see states where the most people have bought guns so far this year.

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