Crimes committed with firearms – particularly homicide – are a growing problem in the United States. Over 19,000 people were murdered with a gun nationwide in 2020, up 35% from the previous year. These murders were on top of the more than 100,000 cases of aggravated assault and 43,000 cases of robbery involving guns.
Many of the guns used in these cases were reported by local law enforcement to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives for tracing to aid in crime investigation and criminal prosecution. All told, the ATF traced nearly 390,000 firearms in 2020 alone.
Gun violence is not uniform across the country, however, and some states report far more guns to trace to the federal government than others.
Using data from the ATF, 24/7 Wall St. identified the states where the most guns were traced in 2020. States are ranked by the number of guns traced by the ATF for every 100,000 people.
Guns that are traced by the ATF are typically those found at a crime scene – and that either have been used, or are suspected to have been used, to commit a crime – though it is important to note that not all firearms used in a crime are traced.
The states ranking highest on this list are generally those with relatively few restrictions on gun ownership. Many of these states also have higher than average rates of violent crime. (Here is a look at America’s most dangerous states).
ATF firearm tracing data also reveals some clear trends in the types of guns most commonly used for crime. For example, in nearly every state, the firearms most commonly traced by the ATF are typically chambered for ammunition usually found in handguns. These calibers include .40, .380, and 9mm. (Here is a look at the 50 most popular guns in the world.)
Click here to see the states where the most guns are traced by the federal government.
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