April 2023 saw the 45th month in a row that Americans picked up more than a million guns, and three states had a big hand in helping that along. 

Overall, the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System figures for last month topped 2,616,729. This is a 3.3 percent increase from the FBI NICS figure of 2,534,057 in April 2022.

When the National Shooting Sports Foundation adjusted those top-line figures to remove checks and rechecks for gun permits and CCWs, the gun trade group came up with the figure of 1,369,296 checks for likely retail gun sales. This, too, was a slight increase from the April 2022 NSSF-adjusted NICS figure of 1,359,908. 

And three states in particular saw much larger jumps last month, all likely driven by looming gun bans. 

Washington accounted for 71,272 background checks in April 2023, compared to 49,641 in April 2022. That’s a 43.6 percent bump that came while the Democrat-controlled legislature passed Gov. Jay Inslee's controversial "assault weapon" ban. That ban has subsequently been hit with at least two legal challenges on constitutional grounds. 

Illinois posted 39,954 background checks in April 2023, compared to 35,790 in April 2022, an 11.7 percent increase. This came as Democrat Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s own constitutionally suspect "assault weapon" ban was briefly put on ice by a federal court. 

Meanwhile, in Oregon, a state where lawmakers are rushing an array of new gun control measures through the legislature, 43,574 background checks were logged in April 2023, compared to 27,921 a year ago. This represents more than a 56.1 percent year-over-year increase. 

"These figures show that when Americans are concerned that government authorities will deny them the full spectrum of their Second Amendment rights, they will respond by exercising those rights," Mark Oliva, NSSF's public affairs director, told Guns.com. "It also shows that when barriers to lawful firearm ownership are torn down, law-abiding citizens will exercise their right to lawfully purchase firearms."

Meanwhile, in related news, with the North Carolina legislature’s action to repeal a Jim Crow-era permit-to-purchase a handgun scheme, the Tar Heel State saw 68,181 background checks in April 2023. This is compared to 18,967 in April 2022, a whopping 238.4 percent increase since gun stores were able to just use a NICS instant check for handgun sales rather than go through the antiquated permit-to-purchase process. 

Banner image: A customized S&W M&P9 M2.0 by Fink's Custom Gunsmith at Gunsite in Paulden, Arizona. (Photo: Chris Eger/Guns.com)

revolver barrel loading graphic