Politics & Government

Idaho depends on the gun industry more than any other state, study says

It’s no secret that firearms are a big part of Idaho’s culture. So it may not surprise many Idahoans to learn that our state is the nation’s most dependent on the gun industry for the second year in a row, according to a recent study.

Finance website WalletHub published a report Tuesday that weighed 17 factors in three major categories for each state: the firearms industry, gun prevalence and gun politics.

Idaho’s first-place score of 82.38 was several points ahead of second-place Alaska, which scored 78.79. South Dakota came in third with a score of 76.54 followed by Wyoming (76.19) and Arkansas (73.44).

How did Idaho end up on top? Here’s a breakdown of WalletHub’s methodology and results:

Source: WalletHub

Idaho’s firearms industry

Idaho came in second overall for the “firearms industry” category, behind New Hampshire. The report weighed 10 metrics, including strictness of gun laws, taxes paid by firearms companies and number of gun shows per capita.

The Gem State ranked first for firearms industry jobs per capita, with nearly 37 industry jobs per 10,000 residents, as well as for industry output per capita ($624.85). Our state also came in first for minimum age to purchase and possess firearms (it’s not clear whether the study factored in Idaho’s recent move to allow 18-year-olds to carry concealed guns). Idaho also took first for gun industry immunity, a metric that “considers the presence or absence of a state statute that protects gun manufacturers and dealers from liability lawsuits. It is similar to the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act,” according to WalletHub.

Idaho was second for firearms and ammunition manufacturers per capita (5.67) and strictness of state gun laws.

The state fared poorly on other industry metrics, though. With only .06 gun shows per capita, Idaho was 38th. Average firearms industry wages in Idaho totaled $42,600, putting the state in 30th place.

Prevalence of guns in Idaho

This category weighed four metrics: gun ownership rate, gun sales per 1,000 residents, gun ads for private buying and selling and internet search interest for gun sales.

Again, Idaho’s results were a mixed bag. According to WalletHub, nearly 57 percent of Idahoans own guns, putting our state in third place. (Alaska and Arkansas ranked higher.)

Idaho has 125 gun sales per 1,000 residents — more than any other state. And Idahoans are seventh when it comes to Googling gun sales. But Idaho dropped to 31st when it comes to gun ads for private buying and selling, the study found.

Idaho gun politics

The three metrics in this category, which looked at Idaho lawmakers’ actions on gun policies, carried more weight than any other measures.

All four of Idaho’s congressmen have a pro-gun track record, WalletHub found, which helped Idaho rank first for legislator votes on gun bills. Idaho also came in first for “gun-control contributions to congressional members per capita” — our state’s lawmakers earned zero dollars on the issue.

On the flip side, gun rights contributions per capita totaled $12,862, enough to earn Idaho fifth place.

Though the WalletHub study didn’t include background checks as a scoring metric, Idaho tied for first place with four other states for the most background checks per capita. Federal law requires federally licensed firearms dealers to conduct background checks, but Idaho law does not. Private sellers are not required to conduct background checks.

Other findings on firearms

It’s not the first time Idaho has made this WalletHub list. The state earned first place in the same study last year and in 2016. (Alaska took the top spot in 2017.)

In recent years, gun sales across the country have slowed, a trend reflected in WalletHub’s findings. Firearms-industry jobs per capita in Idaho declined from 40.05 to 37 in the last year, and Idaho’s per capita industry output fell from $712 per person to $624.

Here are the top 10 most firearms-industry-dependent states:



South Dakota



North Dakota





And the 10 least firearms-industry-reliant states:

New Jersey

Rhode Island

New York








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