ARIZONA—While the debate for gun control rages hot across the nation, a study has found that sales have begun to cool.

The study released by Security.org, titled “Gun Country: Where in the U.S. Are Guns Most Popular?” examined compiled data on everything from gun crime to sales to paint a national picture on gun ownership.

“Despite gun ownership being a relatively obscure hobby (video games, movies, books, sports and online shopping are all much more popular), guns remain so divisive politically that no meaningful federal gun control legislation has been enacted in the past 25 years,” Security.org wrote. “Bridging the political divides over guns and gun control could be helped by a deeper understanding of the geographic differences in gun sales, gun crimes and gun deaths.”

What the study finds, however, is that in spite of that deep and abiding division surrounding guns, sales are declining sharply. Gun sales surged to a decades-long high of nearly $15.3 million in 2016. By 2018, that number fell to roughly $12.6 million.

“According to our analysis, about 12.6 million guns were purchased through federally licensed gun dealers in 2018. That represents a decline from 2017, and if trends hold through the remainder of 2019, sales will decline even further this year,” Security.org wrote. The sales data, which was current through August 2019, shows 2019 at just shy of $8 million in sales.

In addition to sales statistics, the study also charts gun crime and violence rates nationally. In that respect, Arizona’s biggest hurdle is its large rate of suicide victims via guns. The state ties with Kansas and Oklahoma for 12th-highest age-adjusted rate of suicide per 100,000 people at 10.7. Western states in general have higher gun suicide rates than the rest of the country, with the highest being Montana at 19.4. Hawaii is the exception, being the lowest at 1.8.

It should be noted that in spite of the falling sales, suicide rates are increasing nationwide; whether incidents of suicide involving guns were changed or in line with those statistics was unclear.

Overall gun violence in Arizona trends rather high. In statistics provided by Wikipedia, Arizona is 14th highest for gun violence adjusted for age. That’s a considerably higher position than its neighbors Texas and California, which boast higher populations and gun sales numbers.

What the study does, its authors hope, is start a dialogue. “Without a doubt, the American relationship to guns is long and complex, seemingly growing more complex by the day. But if progress is ever to be made against gun deaths and injuries, it’s necessary to start by understanding each state’s unique relationship with firearms,” Security.org wrote.

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