US Gun Sales Collapsed Last Month

Gun violence has become a regular part of the news headlines this year. Murders in American cities spiked last year, particularly in large cities. Guns were involved in most of these. According to the Gun Violence Archive, there already have been 4,706 gun deaths across the country so far in 2022. Even with more strict gun ownership and purchasing laws, the difficult fact is that about 400 million guns are currently owned by private citizens, the police and the military. The chance that civilians who own guns will turn them into the government, no matter what the incentive, is small.

Gun sales, using the NICS Firearms Background Check as a proxy, reached 38,876,673 last year. This was down slightly from the record set in 2020 of 39,695,315.

There are several theories about the sharp rise in gun sales over the past two years. Among them is the violence in American cities during protests. Another is the fear that people might have to protect their property during the pandemic, even if this is absurd.

One fact about recent gun purchases stands out. According to The Economist, “Of the 7.5m Americans who bought firearms for the first time between January 2019 and April 2021—as gun-buying surged nationwide—half were female, a fifth black and a fifth Hispanic, according to a recent study by Matthew Miller of Northeastern University and his co-authors.”

Inexplicably, gun sales collapsed in January, compared to January last year. The 2022 figure is at 2,591,588, compared to last year’s 4,317,804. That means the 2022 number was only 60% of the figure for 2021. That was the lowest January total since 2019.

The number remained high in some states. They were particularly large in Illinois at 473,953. Here are the January gun sales figures for all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico:

  • Alabama (62,764)
  • Alaska (4,986)
  • Arizona (34,855)
  • Arkansas (17,487)
  • California (104,282)
  • Colorado (40,897)
  • Connecticut (18,473)
  • Delaware (4,596)
  • District of Columbia (1,418)
  • Florida (112,827)
  • Georgia (48,062)
  • Hawaii (1,358)
  • Idaho (15,947)
  • Illinois (473,953)
  • Indiana (111,333)
  • Iowa (22,011)
  • Kansas (14,630)
  • Kentucky (354,595)
  • Louisiana (27,768)
  • Maine (7,239)
  • Maryland (17,340)
  • Massachusetts (17,297)
  • Michigan (62,731)
  • Minnesota (65,564)
  • Mississippi (19,312)
  • Missouri (38,691)
  • Montana (9,052)
  • Nebraska (5,904)
  • Nevada (13,648)
  • New Hampshire (9,481)
  • New Jersey (13,063)
  • New Mexico (12,417)
  • New York (29,536)
  • North Carolina (50,952)
  • North Dakota (5,064)
  • Ohio (50,625)
  • Oklahoma (27,273)
  • Oregon (30,035)
  • Pennsylvania (93,298)
  • Puerto Rico (5,778)
  • Rhode Island (2,139)
  • South Carolina (29,123)
  • South Dakota (6,536)
  • Tennessee (62,111)
  • Texas (127,737)
  • Utah (80,486)
  • Vermont (3,184)
  • Virginia (42,218)
  • Washington (52,914)
  • West Virginia (13,050)
  • Wisconsin (51,816)
  • Wyoming (4,827)

Click here to see each state’s share of the 39 million guns Americans bought last year.


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