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We’ve all learned the risk in trusting legacy media outlets like MSN on much of anything – especially when it comes to gun related topics. They usually can’t help themselves. They’re either tripping over their own anti-gun narrative or they’re so ignorant on the topic that they don’t even know what they don’t know.

Sure enough, another mainstream outlet has just given us reason number eleventy-billion and one not to trust anything they report because neither their “journalists” nor their editors can manage even the most basic fact-checking.

One of MSN’s galaxy brains managed to Google the FBI’s latest NICS background check totals. Douglas A. McIntyre assumed that the number of background checks equals the number of guns sold. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

You can probably guess what happened next. Brace yourself for some breathless journalistic frothing at the mouth . . .

Americans Bought 39 Million Guns Last Year. Here Is Each State’s Figure.

Last year, Americans bought 38.9 million guns, the second-highest year since data began to be kept by the FBI in 1998. It is only topped by 2020 when the number was 39.7 million. The best proxy for gun sales in America is the FBI’s NICS Firearms Background Check. Very few people who go through this check are denied permission to purchase weapons.

The number of guns sold in the United States since the start of 1998 is staggering. Through the end of last year, the figure reached 411.6 million, or over 20% more than the U.S. population. This number comes close to matching the 2018 report from the Small Arms Survey. It puts gun ownership in the U.S. at 393 million, or 46% of the global total of guns owned by civilians. Also, guns sold before 1998 are not included in the FBI number, nor are guns bought illegally, so even the agency’s number may be low.

That last line in the second paragraph is a particularly nice touch. Continuing . . .

Here are gun sales by state in 2021:

Alabama (946,271) Alaska (91,207) Arizona (563,763) Arkansas (288,706) California (1,476,073) Colorado (628,811) Connecticut (277,250) Delaware (69,068) District of Columbia (12,910) Florida (1,711,685) Georgia (806,912) Guam (4,518) Hawaii (17,707) Idaho (273,762) Illinois (8,474,505) Indiana (1,815,531) Iowa (266,678) Kansas (230,168) Kentucky (3,848,061) Louisiana (401,345) Maine (129,193) Mariana Islands (364) Maryland (267,753) Massachusetts (259,248) Michigan (970,990) Minnesota (945,299) Mississippi (323,319) Missouri (634,191) Montana (160,640) Nebraska (90,676) Nevada (186,578) New Hampshire (151,853) New Jersey (223,437) New Mexico (194,989) New York (464,575) North Carolina (781,733) North Dakota (80,546) Ohio (851,887) Oklahoma (416,514) Oregon (454,133) Pennsylvania (1,408,165) Puerto Rico (74,381) Rhode Island (37,936) South Carolina (485,487) South Dakota (106,881) Tennessee (964,512) Texas (1,980,753) Utah (1,181,564) Vermont (51,549) Virgin Islands (2,145) Virginia (655,339) Washington (736,846) West Virginia (224,240) Wisconsin (785,856) Wyoming (84,624)

I happen to live in Illinois. I noticed that, according to McIntyre, my state supposedly won the 2021 competition by buying the most firearms with a whopping total of 8.474 million guns sold.

That made me laugh out loud. For real. If true, that would be almost 3.5 guns purchased for every FOID cardholder (about 2.4M) in the Land o’ Lincoln.

Now — hypothetically speaking — I may or may not have met or exceeded that mark last year. Then again, I also seem to have a lot more unfortunate boating accidents than the average gun owner.

Long story short: Doug’s numbers, published on the MSN website, are pure garbage.

The problem? The FBI NICS report the MSN wizard got ahold of does not represent the “best proxy for gun sales in America.” It represents just what it says: background checks. And the NICS background check system is used for much more than just gun sales (think concealed carry permit renewals).

If McIntyre or an MSN editor had taken a moment to visit another FBI site (here), they would have seen a whole list of options for accessing more NICS data.

Screen capture by Boch. Courtesy FBI

And by scrolling down to NICS Firearm Checks: Year by State/Type Doug and his editors would have found information that’s more along the lines of what he was looking for.

Screencap by Boch via FBI

Using all of my fingers and toes, it turns out the number of gun sales for Illinois last year was just over 528,000. That means the actual number of firearms sold in my state was about 6% of what MSN’s McIntyre so lazily and erroneously reported.

As for the grand total of guns sold, the FBI pegs it at about 17.9 million guns sold in 2021. That, of course, doesn’t count states where gun owners with a carry permit can skip the background check process if they present their valid carry license.

The NSSF estimates the number was about 18.5 million. Either way, the best estimates of the actual number of firearms sold in 2021 were less than half the bogus total McIntyre and MSN reported. I’ll await a correction with breathless anticipation.

Another day, another junk news report thrown on the misinformation trash heap. And the media wonder why only 9% of Americans had “a great deal” of trust in them in 2020.



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