How Many Guns Do Americans Have?
For years, we’ve heard that there are more guns in the United States than people, but a precise count has remained elusive. The gun lobby has been vocal in its opposition to federal legislation that would track gun sales or create a national handgun registry. In the absence of precise figures, we have gun owner surveys, industry disclosures, and federal gun background check figures, none of which are exhaustive.
While there are many reasons to buy a firearm, the most common is self-defense. Over two-thirds of gun owners say this is the primary reason they own a gun.
Hunting, sports shooting, collecting, and job-related requirements round out the list.
While rural gun owners are more likely to enjoy hunting or collecting guns as a hobby, urban and suburban gun owners are more likely to prioritize personal protection.
Personal safety and protection are the most frequently cited reasons for gun ownership, with 63% of gun owners citing personal safety as one of the reasons they own a gun.
Hunting is cited by 40% of gun owners as the reason they own a firearm, making it the second most popular reason for owning a firearm.
Recreation is the third most commonly cited reason for gun ownership, with 11% of gun owners stating that this is one of the reasons they own a gun.
Other, less common reasons given by gun owners include family heirlooms, work, exercising their Second Amendment rights, family tradition, simply liking guns, and target shooting.
Due to record-breaking sales during the pandemic, the number of firearms in America is expected to be around 466 million by 2023.
According to a University of Chicago study, 46% of American households own at least one firearm. According to the 2021 National Firearms Survey, 32% of Americans own a firearm. This means that over 81.4 million Americans own firearms. This figure only includes adults over the age of 18.
The United States has an unusually large number of firearms for a large, peaceful, and prosperous country. In fact, Americans own roughly one-third of all civilian firearms in the world.
There is no federal firearms registry in the United States, though some states have their own registries. California, Hawaii, New York, Maryland, Connecticut, and New Jersey are among the states that require firearm registration. Washington, D.C. also requires registration.
However, only California, Hawaii, and Washington, D.C. require all firearms to be registered. As a result, we can’t use registration numbers to estimate the total number of gun owners in these areas.
Every gun made by a licensed U.S. gunmaker has a paper trail. However, what happens to that paper trail — and who has access to it — has been a source of contention.
Because federally licensed dealers are not required to report sales volume to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, we do not have complete data on individual purchases. We do, however, know how many guns are shipped to FFLs each year from licensed manufacturers because gunmakers are required to report those figures to the ATF. In its Annual Firearms Manufacture & Export Report, the agency publishes gun production figures as well as import and export figures.
This data includes guns that are purchased by law enforcement, but not the military. The Small Arms Survey, a Switzerland-based outfit that publishes periodic reports on the global gun stock, estimated in 2018 that local, state, and federal police forces in the United States have just over 1 million firearms.
According to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in June 2021, four-in-ten U.S. adults live in a household with a gun, with 30% saying they personally own one.
According to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in April 2021, roughly half of Americans (48%) consider gun violence to be a major problem in the country today.
39% of men own a firearm, while 22% of women do. Overall, 43% of American men and 38% of American women live in a gun-owning household.
2.New Jersey: 14.7%
3.Rhode Island: 14.8%
Handguns are the most popular type of gun, followed by rifles and shotguns.
Gun Ownership Rate
Total Guns Owned
The federal government’s ability to regulate guns in the United States is severely limited by the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution. The Tenth Amendment, which reserves powers not granted to the federal government to the states, means that gun rules such as where and when you can carry in public, who can buy guns, and what types of guns and features are legal to buy are left to the states.
As a result, gun cultures and statistics can differ greatly across America’s numerous states and territories.
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