Number of Gun Dealers in U.S. Drops 77 Percent Since 1994—From 245,628 to 56,577—New Violence Policy Center (VPC) Analysis Reveals

For Release: Thursday, December 15, 2016

Massachusetts Leads Nation in Decrease (-90%), Followed by California (-89%), Connecticut and Hawaii (tied at -87%), and Rhode Island (-86%)

America Once Had More Gun Dealers Than Gas Stations, Now Only Five States Do:  Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Wyoming

WASHINGTON, DC—The number of gun dealers in America has dropped by 189,051 since 1994 according to a new analysis released today by the Violence Policy Center (VPC). The analysis (see http://www.vpc.org/studies/dealers16.pdf) found that the number of Type 1 Federal Firearms Licenses (FFLs) plummeted 77 percent:  from 245,628 in 1994 to 56,577 in 2016. (The Type 1 FFL is the basic federal license required to sell guns in America.)

Massachusetts posted the largest decrease in the number of gun dealers, dropping from 3,851 in 1994 to 386 in 2016—a decrease of 90 percent. Additional states that had declines of 80 percent or more during the period were:  California (-89%); Connecticut and Hawaii (tied at -87 %); Rhode Island (-86%); Maryland (-85%); Washington (-83%); Michigan and New York (tied at -82%); Alaska (-81%); and, Maine and Vermont (tied at -80%).

The 1992 VPC publication More Gun Dealers Than Gas Stations was the first to focus national attention on abuses by FFL holders and revealed that at the time of its release the number of Americans who possessed the Type 1 FFL outnumbered gas stations 245,000 to 210,000. The bulk of the licenses were held by “kitchen-table” dealers who operated out of their homes or offices, an unknown percentage of which were actively involved in criminal gun trafficking. The study documented many methods used by corrupt dealers to supply guns to criminals. Many of the policy recommendations contained in the study were implemented during the Clinton Administration. Today only five states have more gun dealers than gas stations:  Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Wyoming.

The VPC analysis also looks state by state at the number of Type 1 FFLs per capita, that is, the number of FFLs per 100,000 residents in a state. The five states with the highest rate of Type 1 FFLs per capita were:  Wyoming (94.86 Type 1 FFLs per 100,000 residents); Montana (91.10 Type 1 FFLs per 100,000 residents); Alaska (80.85 Type 1 FFLs per 100,000 residents); North Dakota (60.38 Type 1 FFLs per 100,000 residents); and, South Dakota (58.01 Type 1 FFLs per 100,000 residents). The states with the lowest rate of Type 1 FFLs per capita were:  New Jersey (3.78 Type 1 FFLs per 100,000 residents); California (5.62 Type 1 FFLs per 100,000 residents); Massachusetts (5.68 Type 1 FFLs per 100,000 residents); Rhode Island (7.67 Type 1 FFLs per 100,000 residents); and, Hawaii (7.68 Type 1 FFLs per 100,000 residents). Nationally, there were 17.64 Type 1 FFLs per 100,000 population in the United States.

Senior Policy Analyst and report author Marty Langley states, “The sharp drop in gun dealers is one of the most important—and little noticed—victories in the effort to reduce firearms violence in America. Fewer gun dealers reduces the potential number of sources for high-volume illegal gun trafficking while aiding the inspection and enforcement activities of federal, state, and local authorities.”

 

 

The Violence Policy Center is a national educational organization working to stop gun death and injury. Follow the VPC on TwitterFacebook, and YouTube.

Media Contact:
Marty Langley
(202) 822-8200 x109
mlangley@vpc.org