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How Many Total Firearms Are in America?

Americans are protective of their firearms, but how many total firearms are in the entire country? Follow along as we explore this hard to define statistic.

Nearly 40,000 people died from guns in the US last year. That’s the highest rate of gun crime in the US over the past 50 years. 

This has reignited the debate about gun crime laws.

How do we respond following yet another school shooting? Does the NRA (National Rifle Association) have too much power? What restrictions should they be on buying guns?

These are important questions. Even so, we want to tackle another question that has been bugging a number of people: How many total firearms are there in the US?

Keep reading to discover the truth about this particularly tricky statistic.

America Has More Guns Than People

This is the most shocking statistics we’ve come across! There are more guns than people in the US. 

So, how many guns is that?

There are officially 357 million guns in the US.

The population is around 317 million. Therefore, there is more than one gun for every man, woman, and child. 

The Growing Number of Firearms

There haven’t always been more guns than people. The turning point was in 2009. 

Barrack Obama was President of the United States. Michael Jackson died. And also, Swine Flu was causing havoc again.

This was also the year that the number of guns in the country surpassed the population of the US. 

The production of firearms also increased during this period.

Between the years 2010-2013, the number of guns produced in the US more than doubled. From around 5.5 million in 2010 to nearly 11 million by 2013. 

As a result, during the Obama presidency, the gun industry grew by 158 percent. That’s worrying signs for people who are anti-firearms. 

We can’t say that the increased production is for exporting either. Only a small percentage of firearms are exported overseas. 

Most worryingly, the number of guns is growing three times faster than the population at large. 

What About Illegal Firearms?

The calculation regarding the number of firearms in the US is done as so. 

The number of firearms produced in the US is the starting number. The number of exported guns are subtracted from the number, while the number of firearms imported is added.

This gives us the figure 357 million. 

However, this raises the question about illegal guns. It is believed that firearms that are not registered cross the borders in both directions. 

Damaged or Lost Firearms

Moreover, the figure provided doesn’t account for the number of guns which have been damaged, lost, or stolen in the US.

One expert estimated that around 1 percent of the number of all firearms are unusable each year. 

That’s nothing, right?

Well, actually, since the records have been kept for registered firearms since the 19th century, it could amount to quite a substantial number.

If you remove 1 percent from the total number of guns in the US for every year since 1899, you’re left with approximately 245 million in circulation now. 

The Rise of Background Checks

What is most surprising is that amid the rise of the number of guns in the US, something else has happened.

Background checks for gun sales have gradually increased over the past couple of decades. There are a number of state firearm offenses, which range significantly according to the individual state.

The increase in background checks for gun sales became most pronounced under President Obama.

From 2002 to 2013, background checks have more than doubled. This has risen from just 7 million in 2002 to 15 million in 2013. 

Following the terrorist attacks or mass shootings, background checks for guns commonly soar. 

This happened in December 2015 in response to the mass shootings in San Bernardino, which resulted in the deaths of 14 people. In December of that year alone, more than 1.5 million background checks were made.

However, this is usually the case. In the aftermath of mass shootings in the media, guns sales typically rise

Black Friday 2015 saw the biggest day of sales of guns in US history. It appears that Americans get scared and reach for guns for a sense of security. 

Who Owns Guns in the US?

What is even stranger is who owns the guns in the US. 

Despite the fact that the total number of guns has skyrocketed over the past decade or two, gun ownership has fallen. In other words, fewer households report gun ownership than a few decades ago.

In 1977, around half of US households owned a firearm. By 2014, under 1 in 3 households did. This is the lowest point in American history. 

This trend can be partly explained by the decline of hunting.

Only 15 percent of households have a hunter living there in 2014. Whereas, back in 1977, around one-third of households reported having a member being a hunter.

Therefore, we can safely say that there are more guns which are held by an increasingly smaller percentage of Americans. 

Why Does It Matter?

Even though it’s not necessary to go into the debates around gun laws, there is one statistic that speaks for itself.

The more guns somewhere, the higher the rate of homicides. The number of guns corresponds to the number of gun deaths. 

This stacks up wherever you look. You can compare different states. Or, you can even compare countries to each other.

The same results. 

Total Firearms and Other Gun News

Now you know why it is so tricky to calculate the precise total firearms in the US.

There are so many different factors to consider, from illegal guns to damaged firearms. However, the fact that there are more guns than people in the US is surely a worrying figure for many.

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