Firearms licensees use the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) to ensure transactions do not violate federal or state laws.
The FBI tracks this background check data for each state, shown in the chart below.
In all, nearly 19.6 million background checks were requested in 2012, up from 16.5 million in 2011. Kentucky issued about 2.6 million background checks in 2012, the most of any state, likely because some of its gun permit holders are subject to monthly background checks.
The number of background checks, though, does not represent how many firearms are sold. Federal law does not require checks for private sales between individuals, and multiple guns are often purchased after a single background check, for example.
Select a state below to display monthly NICS totals for background checks requested from 2010 to 2011. Please note that data is not comparable between most states.
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