Americans bought 5.5 million guns to start 2024: See where Pennsylvania ranks (2024)

Pennsylvania was among the top states for gun purchases in both 2023 and the first quarter of this year, but the commonwealth’s large population may help explain the ranking.

Last month, the U.S. surgeon general declared gun violence a public health crisis, issuing a 39-page advisory on initiatives to prevent firearm deaths. The advisory said the rate of firearm-related deaths “reached a near three-decade high in 2021."

About a third of Americans say they personally own a gun, Pew Research data shows. That statistic reflects the deep-rooted culture of gun ownership in the U.S. Another report found that in the first four months of 2024, nearly 5.5. million firearms were purchased in the country.

Americans bought 5.5 million guns to start 2024: See where Pennsylvania ranks (1)

Pennsylvania ranked fourth highest in the country for guns sold in 2023 (841,523) and for guns sold between January and April 2024 (284,082). Pennsylvania, with its 2023 census estimated population of over 12.9 million, is the fifth most populated state in the nation.

Texas, which has the second highest population at 30.5 million people, had the most gun sales last year (1.3 million) and the most guns bought through April (448,034).

Data from the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) was analyzed by SafeHomes.org, a safety product review site, to determine which states had the largest ownership of recently purchased firearms.

Which states sold the most guns in 2023?

The states that sold the most guns last year is largely reflected by its population size. The top three states that sold the most guns in 2023 are also the most populated.

According to SafeHomes' analysis of NICS data, these are the states with the most firearms sales in 2023:

  • Texas: 1,347,589
  • Florida: 1,316,471
  • California: 1,043,421
  • Pennsylvania: 841,523
  • Tennessee: 633,015
  • Ohio: 583,314
  • Virginia: 581,698
  • Michigan: 555,650
  • Missouri: 520,488
  • Illinois: 504,452

Which states sold the most guns, adjusted for population?

When adjusted for population, Pennsylvania’s gun purchases go from one of the largest to almost the median, according to the SafeHomes’ data.

Pennsylvania had a rate of 859 gun purchases per 10,000 residents over the age of 21 in 2023.

Montana, Wyoming and Alaska had the three highest population-based rates, respectively, with all three states having more than 1,500 guns purchased per 10,000 residents.

"These states have strong hunting traditions fostered by rural lifestyles and less rigid gun control laws," SafeHomes managing editor Rob Gabriele said. "The pro-gun cultures and the need for self-defense in such remote areas, which abound in predators that could harm livestock, may also contribute to higher gun ownership and sales."

The following states had the highest rate of gun sales, adjusted for population.

  • Montana: 1,586 sold per 10,000 residents aged 21+
  • Wyoming: 1,523 sold per 10,000 residents aged 21+
  • Alaska: 1,514 sold per 10,000 residents aged 21+
  • Oregon: 1,372 sold per 10,000 residents aged 21+
  • Alabama: 1,302 sold per 10,000 residents aged 21+
  • New Hampshire: 1,252 sold per 10,000 residents aged 21+
  • Tennessee: 1,207 sold per 10,000 residents aged 21+
  • West Virginia: 1,205 sold per 10,000 residents aged 21+
  • North Dakota: 1,194 sold per 10,000 residents aged 21+
  • Idaho: 1,149 sold per 10,000 residents aged 21+

Nationwide legal gun sales declined slightly last year

Nationwide gun sales decreased in 2023, Gabriele said. About 16.7 million firearms were sold in the U.S. last year, the report said, down 4% from 2022.

Pennsylvania’s gun purchases dropped by 7% in 2023.

Florida, which passed a law to allow permitless concealed carry in March 2023, saw gun sales go up 1% last year. The Sunshine State was one of only four states to see an increase, with 1,316,471 estimated sales in 2023, according to the report. But that was nothing compared to North Carolina, Gabriele said, which saw a 112% increase in gun sales after their pistol permit law was eliminated in March 2023 by the GOP-led legislature, overriding the Democratic governor's veto.

Gun violence reaches an all-time-high

According to U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, more than 48,000 people died by gun violence in 2022 — that's an increase of 16,000 deaths compared to 2010. At the same time, firearm-related suicides have increased by 20%, including a “staggering increase” in such deaths among young people, the advisory noted.

Murthy said gun violence demands a public health approach rather than the polarizing political response.

Gun violence became the leading cause of death in children and U.S. adults are worried that they or a loved one will become a victim, according to Reuters. More than half of U.S. adults said that they or a family member experienced a firearm-related incident, a 2023 report from KFF found.

Chris Ullery is the Philadelphia Hub Data Reporter for the USA Today Network. Reach him at cullery@couriertimes.com or find him on Twitter at @ulleryatinell.

Americans bought 5.5 million guns to start 2024: See where Pennsylvania ranks (2024)

FAQs

Americans bought 5.5 million guns to start 2024: See where Pennsylvania ranks? ›

Another report found that in the first four months of 2024, nearly 5.5. million firearms were purchased in the country. Pennsylvania ranked fourth highest in the country for guns sold in 2023 (841,523) and for guns sold between January and April 2024 (284,082).

What percentage of Pennsylvanians own guns? ›

Download Table Data
StateGun Ownership %Licenses in 2022
Pennsylvania40.7%348,167
Michigan40.2%109,835
Ohio40%208,661
Florida35.3%518,725
47 more rows

What state in the US owns the most guns? ›

It is estimated that Texas has more guns than any other state, with 1,005,555 guns and just over 29 million residents.

How many gun owners are in America in 2024? ›

What Percentage of Americans Own Guns? 40%, or approximately more than 82,000,000 Americans own guns.

What's the most pro gun state? ›

#1 New Hampshire

New Hampshire is a Constitutional Carry state with incredibly relaxed gun laws and low crime rates. Any citizen over 18 years old who is lawfully permitted to possess a firearm can open and conceal carry. New Hampshire residents can travel to 29 other states with a pistol and revolver license.

What state has the highest gun violence? ›

As of 2024, Mississippi was the state with the highest gun violence rate per 100,000 residents in the United States, at 29.7 percent, followed by Louisiana, at 28.2 percent. In comparison, Rhode Island had a gun violence rate of 3.1 percent, the lowest out of all the states.

How many guns does the average US citizen own? ›

Pew research reports that of gun owners they average about five firearms per person. They indicate that 29% have only one firearm, and that the remaining percent have more than one firearm.

Which state owns the least guns? ›

The states with the lowest gun ownership rates are New Jersey, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, California, Maryland, Connecticut, Illinois, and Florida. New Jersey has the lowest household firearm ownership rate, with a rate of 8.9%.

What are the most heavily armed states? ›

Texas was the state with the highest number of registered weapons in the United States in 2021, with 1,006,555 firearms. Rhode Island, on the other hand, had the least, with 4,887 registered firearms.

What state has the strictest gun laws? ›

Leading states for gun law strength in the U.S. 2024

California led the way in gun safety in the United States as of January 2024, with a composite score of 89.5 based on the presence of 50 key gun safety policies. New York followed, with a score of 83.5, while Illinois rounded out the top three with a score of 83.

How many unregistered firearms are there in the US? ›

Ranking by country for civilian-held firearms per 100 population. Small Arms Survey 2017.
LocationFirearms per 100Unregistered firearms
United States120.5392,273,257 Est.
Falkland Islands62.1295
Yemen52.8N/A
New Caledonia42.560,000
47 more rows

What country has the most guns? ›

According to the Small Arms Survey, American civilians are estimated to own more firearms than all of the combined firearms from 24 countries, with around 393 million civilian-held firearms in circulation, both legal and illegal.

Why do Americans love guns? ›

Over the past 150 years, American gun owners have gone from viewing their weapons largely as utilitarian farm tools to weapons that provide both a feeling of physical security and a sense of psychological solace. Guns' importance to their owners now goes much deeper than merely being implements of self-defense.

Which states don't allow guns? ›

Forty-four states have a provision in their state constitutions similar to the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which protects the right to keep and bear arms. The exceptions are California, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, and New York.

What is the most gun-friendly country? ›

10 Best Countries for Gun Owners
  • Honduras. The Good: Hondurans may purchase most popular types of shotguns, handguns or rifles for the recognized purposes of self-defense and recreation. ...
  • United States. ...
  • Czech Republic. ...
  • Switzerland. ...
  • Panama. ...
  • Norway. ...
  • Canada. ...
  • Sweden.
Jul 16, 2014

Is Florida gun friendly? ›

While Florida does have numerous gun laws, they are not as strict as other states, including California, Illinois, and New York. For example, there is no special permit potential gun owners must obtain in order to purchase a firearm. Instead, individuals wishing to buy a gun must pass a background check.

What state has the highest concealed carry rate? ›

Alabama has the highest concealed carry rate — 27.8%. Indiana is second with 23.0%, and Colorado is third with 16.5%. Six states now have over 1 million permit holders: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Pennsylvania, and Texas. Florida is the top states with 2.56 million permits.

What percentage of gun owners carry guns? ›

A bar chart showing the share of gun owners who have carried a loaded handgun in the past 30 days, by type of state concealed carry law. In permitless states, the average is 29.7% of gun owners. In "shall issue" states, it's 33.1%. In "may issue " states, it's 19.7%.

What state has the most gun stores? ›

1. Wyoming
  • > Firearm stores in state: 93.4 per 100,000 people (543 total)
  • > City in state with the most firearm stores: Cheyenne; 48 stores.
  • > Gun law strength grade: F.
  • > Share of households with at least one firearm: Approx. ...
  • > Firearm fatality rate, 2021: 26.1 per 100,000 people (5th highest of 50 states)
Dec 5, 2023

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