Only two states had increased gun sales year-over-year
Between 2021 and 2022, all but two states (and Washington D.C.) had decreased gun sale rates. Sales increased by 25% in Iowa and D.C. alike, and by 19% year over year in Oregon.
In Iowa, gun sales may have been influenced by changes to state law. In 2021, state officials passed a law eliminating some permit requirements for handguns, which made the gun sale process simpler and accessible to more people, such as those with alcohol use disorder who were previously not granted permits. Lawmakers are considering other changes to gun laws in the state, such as allowing firearms in cars on school properties.
States with increased gun sale rates
||Percent increase in guns sold, 2021-2022
|District of Columbia
Oregon is a state that displays contrasting attitudes towards gun ownership. While the city centers, particularly Portland, tend to have less favorable views on guns, the rural areas are known for their higher rates of gun ownership, primarily due to hunting and fishing activities.
Between 2021 and 2023, citizens and politicians in Oregon have worked to enact stricter gun laws as sales have risen. They proposed laws that limited specific types of rifles, ammunition capacity, and the minimum age for purchasing certain firearms. Similar to what typically occurs during elections, the anticipation of changes in gun legislation often leads to a surge in gun sales as individuals seek to acquire firearms before the new laws take effect.
The largest decline in sales from 2021-2022 happened in South Dakota (-20%), Rhode Island (-24%), and New Jersey (-25%).
Rhode Island leaders enacted some new laws in 2022 that may have made gun sales more difficult. They banned large-capacity magazines, raised the minimum age to purchase guns, and prohibited the open carry of loaded firearms. These restrictions could have helped reduce sales in the Ocean State.
Similarly, New Jersey’s governor signed new laws at the end of 2022, further restricting public concealed carry permits and raising the cost of handgun permitting applications. Since this was passed at the end of 2022, New Jersey’s gun sales may decline even more this year.