Handguns on a display wall in a gun store.

States with the biggest gun industries

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January 13, 2023
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States with the biggest gun industries

In 1934, Congress ratified the National Firearms Act, legislation requiring guns to be registered and taxed. On the surface, the act's goal was to take a cut of the money the burgeoning industry was bringing in. But there was also a secondary motive: to restrict the sale of guns, subsequently being used in crimes, by charging gun buyers a $200 fee.

In the decades since, the NFA has essentially remained unchanged. Many still look to it as a way for the United States to regulate how many guns make it to the market and into citizens' hands.

While the NFA's creators undoubtedly designed it to check on the gun industry's growth, it has, unfortunately, failed to do so. This is partly because the $200 tax has never gone up, and while that fee was once prohibitive, many people can afford the one-time payment today. The significance of the gun industry, fueled by an ever-increasing demand for guns, has only intensified in the decades since Congress ratified the act.

An estimated 393 million firearms are presently in private ownership in the U.S.—that's more guns than the country's entire population. In 2016, the U.S. manufactured an all-time high of 11.49 million firearms. This figure has decreased in the intervening years (to roughly 7 million), yet it remains more than twice that of 1986. Firearm imports have also increased, with Turkey, Austria, and Brazil sending upwards of 3.78 million guns to the U.S. in 2020 alone.

Gun ownership and industry, like gun culture itself, vary. The degree to which the gun industry is entrenched in a given state is not merely a matter of how many firearms people purchase. It also has to do with the number of dealers and if manufacturing occurs in the state.

Stacker analyzed firearms commerce data from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to rank states based on their total number of tax-paying occupational entities related to the manufacturing and distribution of firearms. In short, this data allows us to see which states have the most gun owners and largest gun industries.

Read on to see where your state falls in the rankings.

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Weapons on display at a gun shop in Washington DC.
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Anadolu Agency // Getty Images

#50. Washington DC (tie)

- Total weapons industry entities: 1
--- Manufacturers: 0
--- Dealers: 0
--- Importers: 1
- Registered weapons: 74,315 (110.9 per 1K residents, #2 overall)

A gun club and a tattoo shop in Waikiki.
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image_vulture // Shutterstock

#50. Hawaii (tie)

- Total weapons industry entities: 1
--- Manufacturers: 0
--- Dealers: 1
--- Importers: 0
- Registered weapons: 9,280 (6.4 per 1K residents, #48 overall)

A line outside D&L Shooting Supplies in West Warwick.
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Boston Globe // Getty Images

#49. Rhode Island

- Total weapons industry entities: 2
--- Manufacturers: 0
--- Dealers: 1
--- Importers: 1
- Registered weapons: 4,887 (4.5 per 1K residents, #51 overall)

NRA President David Keene looking at a supporter's flag during a Delaware State Sportsmen's Association Second Amendment Rally in Dover.
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Patrick Smith // Getty Images

#48. Delaware

- Total weapons industry entities: 3
--- Manufacturers: 0
--- Dealers: 3
--- Importers: 0
- Registered weapons: 6,092 (6.1 per 1K residents, #49 overall)

A handgun at the Bobâs Little Sport Gun Shop in Glassboro.
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Anadolu Agency // Getty Images

#47. New Jersey

- Total weapons industry entities: 29
--- Manufacturers: 7
--- Dealers: 21
--- Importers: 1
- Registered weapons: 102,228 (11.0 per 1K residents, #44 overall)

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A hunter aiming a rifle in Bristol.
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UniversalImagesGroup // Getty Images

#46. Vermont

- Total weapons industry entities: 101
--- Manufacturers: 26
--- Dealers: 71
--- Importers: 4
- Registered weapons: 9,451 (14.6 per 1K residents, #42 overall)

A person showing off a long gun at Jimmy's Sport Shop in Mineola.
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TIMOTHY A. CLARY // Getty Images

#45. New York

- Total weapons industry entities: 114
--- Manufacturers: 91
--- Dealers: 19
--- Importers: 4
- Registered weapons: 92,191 (4.6 per 1K residents, #50 overall)

Handguns on display at a gun shop in Burlington.
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Mike Kemp // Getty Images

#44. North Dakota

- Total weapons industry entities: 134
--- Manufacturers: 14
--- Dealers: 119
--- Importers: 1
- Registered weapons: 30,975 (40.0 per 1K residents, #9 overall)

The sign outside Chuck's Gun Shop in Riverdale.
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Jeff Schear // Getty Images

#43. Illinois

- Total weapons industry entities: 144
--- Manufacturers: 96
--- Dealers: 37
--- Importers: 11
- Registered weapons: 144,749 (11.4 per 1K residents, #43 overall)

A person tracking a musk ox with a rifle during a hunting expedition on Nelson Island.
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Andrew Burton // Getty Images

#41. Alaska (tie)

- Total weapons industry entities: 146
--- Manufacturers: 33
--- Dealers: 112
--- Importers: 1
- Registered weapons: 28,237 (38.5 per 1K residents, #11 overall)

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A customer looking over hunting rifles at Kittery Trading Post.
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Portland Press Herald // Getty Images

#41. Maine (tie)

- Total weapons industry entities: 146
--- Manufacturers: 48
--- Dealers: 95
--- Importers: 3
- Registered weapons: 21,396 (15.6 per 1K residents, #41 overall)

A gun on a glass counter in Northeast Trading Co.
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Boston Globe // Getty Images

#40. Massachusetts

- Total weapons industry entities: 150
--- Manufacturers: 118
--- Dealers: 27
--- Importers: 5
- Registered weapons: 45,138 (6.5 per 1K residents, #47 overall)

A group of people hunting pheasants in eastern South Dakota during October.
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Jacob Boomsma // Shutterstock

#39. South Dakota

- Total weapons industry entities: 162
--- Manufacturers: 31
--- Dealers: 131
--- Importers: 0
- Registered weapons: 64,666 (72.2 per 1K residents, #3 overall)

Cattle farmer in Raymond putting his rifle away.
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Andrew Burton // Getty Images

#38. Nebraska

- Total weapons industry entities: 165
--- Manufacturers: 33
--- Dealers: 132
--- Importers: 0
- Registered weapons: 43,261 (22.0 per 1K residents, #32 overall)

Guns at a shop in Jackson.
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Jim Whitney // Shutterstock

#37. Wyoming

- Total weapons industry entities: 168
--- Manufacturers: 47
--- Dealers: 119
--- Importers: 2
- Registered weapons: 142,247 (245.8 per 1K residents, #1 overall)

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Chad Mercer speaking to Agence France-Presse from his booth at a gun shop in White Sulphur Springs.
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MICHAEL MATHES // Getty Images

#36. West Virginia

- Total weapons industry entities: 190
--- Manufacturers: 43
--- Dealers: 140
--- Importers: 7
- Registered weapons: 50,963 (28.6 per 1K residents, #18 overall)

A collection of guns on display at a firearm factory in Hartford.
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Andrew Lichtenstein // Getty Images

#35. Connecticut

- Total weapons industry entities: 205
--- Manufacturers: 88
--- Dealers: 114
--- Importers: 3
- Registered weapons: 74,874 (20.8 per 1K residents, #36 overall)

A cowboy guide firing his old black powder six-shooter in the old ghost town of Shakespeare.
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VW Pics // Getty Images

#34. New Mexico

- Total weapons industry entities: 213
--- Manufacturers: 70
--- Dealers: 133
--- Importers: 10
- Registered weapons: 122,968 (58.1 per 1K residents, #4 overall)

A person aiming a rifle at an outdoor shooting range in Mammoth Lakes.
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Matthew Corley // Shutterstock

#33. California

- Total weapons industry entities: 222
--- Manufacturers: 122
--- Dealers: 86
--- Importers: 14
- Registered weapons: 406,360 (10.4 per 1K residents, #46 overall)

A sporting goods store in Three Forks.
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Cheri Alguire // Shutterstock

#32. Montana

- Total weapons industry entities: 224
--- Manufacturers: 72
--- Dealers: 148
--- Importers: 4
- Registered weapons: 36,678 (33.2 per 1K residents, #16 overall)

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A customer browsing guns for sale at RTD Arms & Sport in Goffstown.
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ED JONES // Getty Images

#31. New Hampshire

- Total weapons industry entities: 228
--- Manufacturers: 101
--- Dealers: 121
--- Importers: 6
- Registered weapons: 72,433 (52.1 per 1K residents, #5 overall)

Handguns for sale in Rockville.
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Erick Gibson // Shutterstock

#30. Maryland

- Total weapons industry entities: 237
--- Manufacturers: 77
--- Dealers: 152
--- Importers: 800
- Registered weapons: 136,257 (22.1 per 1K residents, #31 overall)

A student firing a handgun during a shooting course at Boondocks Firearms Academy in Jackson.
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CHANDAN KHANNA // Getty Images

#29. Mississippi

- Total weapons industry entities: 260
--- Manufacturers: 77
--- Dealers: 172
--- Importers: 11
- Registered weapons: 80,712 (27.4 per 1K residents, #20 overall)

A child learning gun safety and survival skills in Emmett.
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Kozup Photography // Shutterstock

#28. Idaho

- Total weapons industry entities: 287
--- Manufacturers: 130
--- Dealers: 155
--- Importers: 2
- Registered weapons: 76,425 (40.2 per 1K residents, #8 overall)

A semi-automatic pistol with a wood background in Walnut.
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FESTUS_BSQRT // Shutterstock

#27. Iowa

- Total weapons industry entities: 292
--- Manufacturers: 65
--- Dealers: 226
--- Importers: 1
- Registered weapons: 54,178 (17.0 per 1K residents, #39 overall)

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AR-15 style rifle barrels sit on a cart as workers assemble the guns at Davidson Defense in Orem.
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GEORGE FREY // Getty Images

#26. Utah

- Total weapons industry entities: 304
--- Manufacturers: 148
--- Dealers: 151
--- Importers: 5
- Registered weapons: 118,408 (35.5 per 1K residents, #14 overall)

A person browsing guns in Louisiana.
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WKanadpon // Shutterstock

#25. Louisiana

- Total weapons industry entities: 307
--- Manufacturers: 85
--- Dealers: 220
--- Importers: 23
- Registered weapons: 152,061 (32.9 per 1K residents, #17 overall)

A box of Winchester 308 shells in Black Fork.
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Ana Hollan // Shutterstock

#24. Arkansas

- Total weapons industry entities: 315
--- Manufacturers: 132
--- Dealers: 168
--- Importers: 15
- Registered weapons: 133,981 (44.3 per 1K residents, #7 overall)

A long range rifle and its ammo ready for a shooting competition in Las Vegas.
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Christopher Sibert // Shutterstock

#23. Nevada

- Total weapons industry entities: 320
--- Manufacturers: 173
--- Dealers: 135
--- Importers: 12
- Registered weapons: 119,007 (37.9 per 1K residents, #12 overall)

A person in jeans and hoodie removing a black handgun from their gun holster at an outdoor target range in Oregon.
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Alexander Oganezov // Shutterstock

#21. Oregon (tie)

- Total weapons industry entities: 321
--- Manufacturers: 110
--- Dealers: 210
--- Importers: 1
- Registered weapons: 97,474 (23.0 per 1K residents, #29 overall)

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Owner of Lynnwood Gun demonstrating a Daniel Defense DD5 semi-automatic rifle in Lynnwood.
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Karen Ducey // Getty Images

#21. Washington (tie)

- Total weapons industry entities: 321
--- Manufacturers: 140
--- Dealers: 176
--- Importers: 5
- Registered weapons: 165,534 (21.4 per 1K residents, #34 overall)

A gun show in Tulsa.
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damann // Shutterstock

#19. Oklahoma (tie)

- Total weapons industry entities: 350
--- Manufacturers: 138
--- Dealers: 211
--- Importers: 1
- Registered weapons: 103,368 (25.9 per 1K residents, #22 overall)

The exterior of A2Z Gunshop in Rush City.
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Sheena_Waldron // Shutterstock

#19. Minnesota (tie)

- Total weapons industry entities: 350
--- Manufacturers: 109
--- Dealers: 228
--- Importers: 13
- Registered weapons: 129,825 (22.7 per 1K residents, #30 overall)

A person shooting birds while spending an afternoon on the front porch with their family in Logan.
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John Moore // Getty Images

#18. Kansas

- Total weapons industry entities: 352
--- Manufacturers: 80
--- Dealers: 268
--- Importers: 4
- Registered weapons: 69,850 (23.8 per 1K residents, #26 overall)

The Shooter's Choice store in West Columbia.
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Joe Raedle // Getty Images

#17. South Carolina

- Total weapons industry entities: 355
--- Manufacturers: 109
--- Dealers: 236
--- Importers: 10
- Registered weapons: 119,205 (23.0 per 1K residents, #28 overall)

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A person loading a rifle at an outdoor firing range in Kentucky.
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Kyle M Price // Shutterstock

#16. Kentucky

- Total weapons industry entities: 367
--- Manufacturers: 95
--- Dealers: 254
--- Importers: 18
- Registered weapons: 108,833 (24.1 per 1K residents, #24 overall)

Pro 2nd Amendment gun rights supporters participating at Reopen Wisconsin rally in Madison.
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Aaron of L.A. Photography // Shutterstock

#15. Wisconsin

- Total weapons industry entities: 368
--- Manufacturers: 115
--- Dealers: 252
--- Importers: 1
- Registered weapons: 95,430 (16.2 per 1K residents, #40 overall)

Sign for gunshow in Montgomery.
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Barry Lewis // Getty Images

#14. Alabama

- Total weapons industry entities: 416
--- Manufacturers: 118
--- Dealers: 272
--- Importers: 26
- Registered weapons: 194,920 (38.7 per 1K residents, #10 overall)

Handguns on display at Metro Shooting Supplies in Bridgeton.
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Anadolu Agency // Getty Images

#13. Missouri

- Total weapons industry entities: 417
--- Manufacturers: 147
--- Dealers: 255
--- Importers: 15
- Registered weapons: 113,351 (18.4 per 1K residents, #37 overall)

Guests shopping for firearms and accessories at a NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits in Indianapolis.
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Scott Olson // Getty Images

#12. Indiana

- Total weapons industry entities: 419
--- Manufacturers: 103
--- Dealers: 310
--- Importers: 6
- Registered weapons: 157,546 (23.1 per 1K residents, #27 overall)

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Ted and his wife Shemane Nugent shooting guns on their 1,200 acre ranch in Concord.
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The Washington Post // Getty Images

#11. Michigan

- Total weapons industry entities: 446
--- Manufacturers: 134
--- Dealers: 300
--- Importers: 12
- Registered weapons: 109,835 (10.9 per 1K residents, #45 overall)

The sign for a large Nashville area gun shop and armory.
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James R. Martin // Shutterstock

#10. Tennessee

- Total weapons industry entities: 458
--- Manufacturers: 131
--- Dealers: 321
--- Importers: 6
- Registered weapons: 151,536 (21.7 per 1K residents, #33 overall)

A person shooting a pink AR-15 at Dragon Mans shooting range in Colorado Springs.
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Jim Lambert // Shutterstock

#9. Colorado

- Total weapons industry entities: 506
--- Manufacturers: 157
--- Dealers: 343
--- Importers: 6
- Registered weapons: 149,382 (25.7 per 1K residents, #23 overall)

A car passing a gun store and pawn shop in Adairsville.
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The Washington Post // Getty Images

#8. Georgia

- Total weapons industry entities: 596
--- Manufacturers: 203
--- Dealers: 380
--- Importers: 13
- Registered weapons: 304,124 (28.2 per 1K residents, #19 overall)

Assorted pistols on display on the range at Blue Ridge Arsenal in Chantilly.
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Anadolu Agency // Getty Images

#7. Virginia

- Total weapons industry entities: 605
--- Manufacturers: 197
--- Dealers: 363
--- Importers: 45
- Registered weapons: 423,707 (49.0 per 1K residents, #6 overall)

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The sign for Aumiller Gun Shop in Westerville.
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Eric Glenn // Shutterstock

#6. Ohio

- Total weapons industry entities: 624
--- Manufacturers: 239
--- Dealers: 379
--- Importers: 6
- Registered weapons: 208,661 (17.7 per 1K residents, #38 overall)

Hyatt Gun & Coin Shop on Wilkinson Boulevard in Charlotte.
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Nolichuckyjake // Shutterstock

#5. North Carolina

- Total weapons industry entities: 640
--- Manufacturers: 231
--- Dealers: 407
--- Importers: 2
- Registered weapons: 222,166 (21.1 per 1K residents, #35 overall)

Four handguns, two Glocks, 9mm and 40 caliber and two revolvers, a Taurus 38 special and a Charter Arm 357 magnum.
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woodsnorthphoto // Shutterstock

#4. Pennsylvania

- Total weapons industry entities: 684
--- Manufacturers: 210
--- Dealers: 457
--- Importers: 17
- Registered weapons: 348,167 (26.9 per 1K residents, #21 overall)

Guns, handguns, AK-47s and .50 caliber rifles, on display.
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Rebekah Zemansky // Shutterstock

#3. Arizona

- Total weapons industry entities: 713
--- Manufacturers: 407
--- Dealers: 276
--- Importers: 30
- Registered weapons: 258,691 (35.6 per 1K residents, #13 overall)

A sign on the property of a gun shop announces guns and ammo are available for purchase in Palm Harbor.
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Joanne Dale // Shutterstock

#2. Florida

- Total weapons industry entities: 1,123
--- Manufacturers: 462
--- Dealers: 595
--- Importers: 66
- Registered weapons: 518,725 (23.8 per 1K residents, #25 overall)

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A rack of shotguns for sale at a gun store in Austin.
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Allen.G // Shutterstock

#1. Texas

- Total weapons industry entities: 1,822
--- Manufacturers: 748
--- Dealers: 1,035
--- Importers: 39
- Registered weapons: 1,006,555 (34.1 per 1K residents, #15 overall)

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