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There Are Now More Guns than People in the United States

Washington Post

5 October 2015

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There Are Now More Guns than People in the United States

Most estimates of the number of guns in the U.S. use federal tallies of the firearms manufactured, imported and exported by U.S. gunmakers.

A 2012 Congressional Research Service report… put the number of civilian firearms at 242 million in 1996, 259 million in 2000, and 310 million as of 2009…

Adding up new guns and imports and subtracting gun exports, in 2013 there would have been roughly 357 million firearms in the U.S.- 40 million more guns than people. This is just an estimate. These numbers are blind to firearms that enter and exit the country illegally, and to guns that break down, or are lost or destroyed.

Philip J. Cook of Duke University suspects that estimates based on the ATF numbers don't properly account for this type of attrition. He's estimated that roughly 1 percent of the American gun stock gets destroyed, lost or broken in a given year. Applying that factor retroactively back to when the ATF first began keeping records in 1899, that would put the civilian firearm total at something like 245 million as of 2011, he said.

Other estimates downplay the effect of attrition.

In 2007, the global Small Arms Survey estimated there were 270 million civilian firearms in the United States.

Gary Kleck, a criminologist at Florida State University, says… His numbers produce an estimate nearly identical [to this]…

U.S. gun manufacturers have drastically increased their output during the Obama years.

In 2009, according to the ATF, gunmakers produced 5.6 million guns. By 2013 their annual production had just about doubled, up to 10.9 million guns that year…

[ATF = Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives]

ID: N395

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