Once-Booming Gun Sales Have Slumped: The Kiplinger Letter

Gun sales and FBI background checks continue to cool down from pandemic highs.

A gun sales person removes a rifle from the wall of a gun shop
(Image credit: Getty Images)

To help you understand changes in gun sales and consumer purchases nationwide, and what we expect to happen in the future, our highly experienced Kiplinger Letter team will keep you abreast of the latest developments and forecasts (Get a free issue of The Kiplinger Letter or subscribe). You'll get all the latest news first by subscribing, but we will publish many (but not all) of the forecasts a few days afterward online. Here’s the latest…

Once-booming personal firearm purchases continue to cool down from pandemic highs. In 2020, consumers bought nearly 40 million guns amid a series of urban riots and an uptick in crime. But in the years since then, FBI background checks, a close proxy for gun purchases, have slumped since the spring and were down 15% year-over-year in the third quarter. If the trend persists, firearm background checks for 2023 will reach their lowest level since 2019.

Background checks were also down 18.7% in 2022 compared with the previous year. Most likely, consumers are tapped out. Those who want a gun now own one. Illinois has led the nation in background checks so far this year, with 3.2 million, followed closely by Kentucky with 2.9 million, then Texas with 1.2 million and California with 1 million. 

Subscribe to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance

Be a smarter, better informed investor.

Save up to 74%

Sign up for Kiplinger’s Free E-Newsletters

Profit and prosper with the best of expert advice on investing, taxes, retirement, personal finance and more - straight to your e-mail.

Profit and prosper with the best of expert advice - straight to your e-mail.

Sign up

To continue reading this article
please register for free

This is different from signing in to your print subscription

Why am I seeing this? Find out more here

Sean Lengell
Associate Editor, The Kiplinger Letter

Sean Lengell covers Congress and government policy for The Kiplinger Letter. Before joining Kiplinger in January 2017 he served as a congressional reporter for eight years with the Washington Examiner and the Washington Times. He previously covered local news for the Tampa (Fla.) Tribune. A native of northern Illinois who spent much of his youth in St. Petersburg, Fla., he holds a bachelor's degree in English from Marquette University.