03.21.12

States With the Most Guns in 2012

The shooting of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida, has sparked a fierce debate about Florida’s self-defense and gun laws—but is Florida among the most-armed states in America? The Daily Beast runs the numbers to find out where guns are most prevalent.

The shooting of Trayvon Martin has focused national attention on Florida’s so-called Stand Your Ground law, under which a person claiming self-defense can justify killing an alleged assailant.

Because Trayvon was killed by George Zimmerman’s 9mm semi-automatic handgun, we wondered how the gun-ownership rates have changed since our 2010 report, in which we crunched the numbers to find out which states (including Washington, D.C.) are the most armed.

For our updated ranking, we considered state data from the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System for the last 18 months. We divided the number of background checks by each state’s population to come up with our final ranking.

A point of caution: states are not consistent in reporting NICS data. Some use the system for background checks on purchases on the secondary market and others do not. Also, Kentucky implemented monthly NICS checks on concealed weapons, which inflates its numbers.

1. Kentucky
NICS background checks per 100,000 residents (Sept. 2010 – Feb. 2012)
: 78,703
Previous rank:
1st

2. Utah
NICS background checks per 100,000 residents
: 46,898
Previous rank:
2nd

3. Montana
NICS background checks per 100,000 residents:
16,888
Previous rank:
3rd

4. West Virginia
NICS background checks per 100,000 residents:
15,718
Previous rank:
6th

5. Alaska
NICS background checks per 100,000 residents:
14,616
Previous rank:
5th

6. Wyoming
NICS background checks per 100,000 residents:
13,986
Previous rank:
4th

7. North Dakota
NICS background checks per 100,000 residents:
13,952
Previous rank:
8th

8. South Dakota
NICS background checks per 100,000 residents:
13,624
Previous rank:
7th

9. Oklahoma
NICS background checks per 100,000 residents:
11,279
Previous rank:
12th

10. Arkansas
NICS background checks per 100,000 residents:
11,150
Previous rank:
9th

11. Alabama
NICS background checks per 100,000 residents:
11,070
Previous rank:
10th

12. Tennessee
NICS background checks per 100,000 residents:
10,889
Previous rank:
11th

13. New Hampshire
NICS background checks per 100,000 residents:
10,557
Previous rank:
16th

14. Idaho
NICS background checks per 100,000 residents:
10,261
Previous rank:
13th

15. Missouri
NICS background checks per 100,000 residents:
10,228
Previous rank:
15th

16. Colorado
NICS background checks per 100,000 residents:
10,208
Previous rank:
14th

17. Mississippi
NICS background checks per 100,000 residents:
10,035
Previous rank:
17th

18. Illinois
NICS background checks per 100,000 residents:
9,831
Previous rank:
18th

19. Minnesota
NICS background checks per 100,000 residents:
9,730
Previous rank:
22nd

20. Louisiana
Population:
4,533,372
Previous rank:
21st

21. Kansas
NICS background checks per 100,000 residents:
9,176
Previous rank:
23rd

22. Washington
NICS background checks per 100,000 residents:
8,785
Previous rank:
24th

23. Pennsylvania
NICS background checks per 100,000 residents:
8,781
Previous rank:
25th

24. Indiana
NICS background checks per 100,000 residents:
8,691
Previous rank:
27th

25. Wisconsin
NICS background checks per 100,000 residents:
8,676
Previous rank:
38th

26. Maine
NICS background checks per 100,000 residents:
8,629
Previous rank:
29th

27. New Mexico
NICS background checks per 100,000 residents:
8,589
Previous rank:
20th

28. Iowa
NICS background checks per 100,000 residents:
8,524
Previous rank:
31st

29. Oregon
NICS background checks per 100,000 residents:
8,287
Previous rank:
26th

30. Connecticut
NICS background checks per 100,000 residents:
7,906
Previous rank:
19th

31. South Carolina
NICS background checks per 100,000 residents:
7,765
Previous rank:
28th

32. Texas
NICS background checks per 100,000 residents:
7,060
Previous rank:
33rd

33. Vermont
NICS background checks per 100,000 residents:
6,728
Previous rank:
35th

34. Nevada
NICS background checks per 100,000 residents:
6,583
Previous rank:
32nd

35. Virginia
NICS background checks per 100,000 residents:
6,387
Previous rank:
30th

36. Ohio
NICS background checks per 100,000 residents:
6,274
Previous rank:
39th

37. North Carolina
NICS background checks per 100,000 residents:
6,178
Previous rank:
34th

38. Georgia
NICS background checks per 100,000 residents:
5,934
Previous rank:
36th

39. Arizona
NICS background checks per 100,000 residents:
5,934
Previous rank:
41st

40. Nebraska
NICS background checks per 100,000 residents:
5,758
Previous rank:
40th

41. Michigan
NICS background checks per 100,000 residents:
5,596
Previous rank:
37th 

42. Florida
NICS background checks per 100,000 residents:
5,212
Previous rank:
42nd

43. Delaware
NICS background checks per 100,000 residents:
3,876
Previous rank:
43rd

44. California
NICS background checks per 100,000 residents:
3,611
Previous rank:
44th

45. Massachusetts
NICS background checks per 100,000 residents:
3,500
Previous rank:
46th

46. Maryland
NICS background checks per 100,000 residents:
2,738
Previous rank:
45th

47. Rhode Island
NICS background checks per 100,000 residents:
2,496
Previous rank:
47th

48. New York
NICS background checks per 100,000 residents:
2,172
Previous rank:
48th

49. Hawaii
NICS background checks per 100,000 residents:
1,359
Previous rank:
49th

50. New Jersey
NICS background checks per 100,000 residents:
1,030
Previous rank:
50th

51. District of Columbia
NICS background checks per 100,000 residents:
81
Previous rank:
51st