The Gun Industry By State: Some Surprising Stats

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Which region is more dependent on the gun industry for jobs, deeply conservative and rural Western states or the liberal and urban Northeast? You might be surprised to find out that the most gun-friendly states are often not the ones where the guns are actually produced. Our new map breaks down which states have the most economic dependence on the firearms industry.

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We gathered data from the Firearms and Ammunition Industry Economic Impact Report from 2017 from the National Shooting Sports Foundation, an organization representing over 12,000 companies in the gun industry. The report tabulates the total jobs and average wages for workers who manufacture and sell guns in each state. We visualized these numbers on a map where the size of the state corresponds to the financial impact of the industry. We then color-coded each state to indicate the number of jobs at stake. The result is an interesting snapshot of an industry at odds with the political divide.

Let’s start by taking a look at the places where the gun industry is comparably small. Hawaii ($39M), Delaware ($40M), Rhode Island ($97M), Vermont ($0.1B)—these places only have a few hundred people making and selling firearms. It may not be surprising that the Northeast lacks a robust gun industry, but also consider places like New Mexico ($0.13B), Nevada ($0.4B) or Oklahoma ($0.51B). The gun industry just isn’t a large employer in these states, despite the fact that they have some of the lightest regulations in the country.

At the other end of the spectrum, Texas has the largest gun industry measured both in terms of economic activity ($8.83B) and jobs (23,070). That’s not surprising. But several states in the Northeast and across the Midwest have robust multi-billion-dollar gun industries as well, including many liberal places with strict gun control legislation. California ($3.64B), Minnesota ($2.43B) and Illinois ($2.18B) are not exactly known for politicians friendly with the NRA. For example, Massachusetts just had its assault weapons ban upheld. The gun industry generates $1.86B in economic activity and provides some 7,116 people with jobs in Massachusetts, the same state where Clinton beat Trump by 29 points.

Top Ten States with the Highest Economic Impact of the Gun Industry

1. Texas: $3.83B and 23,070 jobs

2. California: $3.64B and 20,610 jobs

3. Minnesota: $2.43B and 11,650 jobs

4. Florida: $2.39B and 14,850 jobs

5. Illinois: $2.18B and 10,681 jobs

6. North Carolina: $1.98B and 11,427 jobs

7. Pennsylvania: $1.94B and 12,436 jobs

8. Massachusetts: $1.86B and 7,116 jobs

9. New York: $1.84B and 8020 jobs

10.   Ohio: $1.61B and 11,772 jobs

Our map indicates that the gun industry challenges the usual political divides. Texas has the largest firearms sector, but California is a very close second. This suggests that Republicans might think about a counterintuitive approach next time they campaign on the Second Amendment. If you want to promote gun-friendly legislation, just highlight the industry’s contributions to the economy.

Data: Table 1.1

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