The gun department in a Dick's Sporting Goods store in Arlington, Va. on March 1, 2018. Credit: Olivier Douliery | TNS

Maine gun sales dropped at the seventh-fastest rate in the country last year, following a national trend of declines in every state.

FBI data show background checks for gun purchases in Maine dropped by about 17 percent last year. The data are the best available to track actual gun sales, based on a methodology used by the Small Arms Survey that aims to translate the number of background checks into the actual number of gun sales.

The drop in Maine gun sales follows a national trend gun dealers have dubbed the “Trump slump,” The Associated Press reported, as the election of Republican Donald Trump lowered fears of a successful push by Democrats for new gun control laws.

The slump has continued despite mass shootings in Las Vegas, Nevada, and at a high school in Parkland, Florida. Maine followed that trend in January but bucked it in February, posting higher sales in that month than the same month one year ago.

[‘Trump slump’ in gun sales continues despite control debate]

Gun sales dropped in every state last year, the FBI data show. The data likely undercount sales because not all states require background checks for private sales, but the data allow for year-to-year comparisons in gun demand.

The FBI data showed background checks last year in Maine declined for both handguns and long guns, a category that includes rifles and shotguns.

Historically, spikes in gun sales have come after calls for new gun control measures, often prompted by a mass shooting or similar attack. Those spikes have not occurred since Trump’s election.

Maine gun sales hit an all-time high in December 2015, matching a national spike tied to calls for new restrictions on assault weapons in the wake of the terrorist attack that month in San Bernardino, California.

National sales hit an all-time high in late 2012, following the re-election of Democratic President Barack Obama and the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

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Darren Fishell

Darren is a Portland-based reporter for the Bangor Daily News writing about the Maine economy and business. He's interested in putting economic data in context and finding the stories behind the numbers.