Citation(s) from the GunPolicy.org literature library

Karp, Aaron. 2018 ‘Law Enforcement Firearms Holdings, 2017.’ Estimating Global Law Enforcement Firearms Numbers. Geneva: Small Arms Survey, the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva. 18 June

Relevant contents

Available sources indicate that as of 2017 there was a global total of at least 22.7 million known or estimated law enforcement firearms, equal to roughly 2.2 per cent of all firearms identified by the Small Arms Survey around the world. Worldwide, 4.8 million law enforcement firearms have been reported to the Small Arms Survey or documented from other sources. An additional 17.9 million or so firearms owned by law enforcement agencies can be estimated with reasonable confidence.

The global estimate is slightly lower than the previous Small Arms Survey global estimate for 2006, the result of methodological changes and a decision not to estimate the holdings for many specialized or smaller law enforcement agencies.

There are several reasons to assume that the total of 22.7 million law enforcement firearms given in this Briefing Paper is an underestimate. The state of research on law enforcement armament makes it hard to say whether global law enforcement weapons inventories are increasing or decreasing. But the types of firearms used by law enforcement agencies appear to be changing more rapidly than those of military services, also becoming more alike to military armament.

[Editor's note: See the online annexe for a full breakdown of law enforcement firearm holdings by country. Country data includes a breakdown of active law enforcement personnel by agency as well as an estimate of all firearms held by law enforcement in that country]

ID: Q13435

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