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Number of Privately Owned Firearms
Definition and Selection Criteria
The total number of firearms, both licit and illicit, said to be in private possession.
It is important to recognise that illicit firearms cannot be counted. In this category, only estimates can be attempted. Ours include any known, or estimated number of registered or otherwise lawfully held guns, added to an estimate of illicit firearms, which we publish as a total figure.
If an authoritative local estimate of illicit guns is not available, an international rule of thumb from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime1 may be cited. The UNODC estimates a territory's illicit firearm stockpile at between 10% and 20% of the known number of licit, registered firearms. In developed nations with a tightly regulated firearm market, GunPolicy.org cites the lower, 10% end of the UNODC range.
The total number displayed in this category is likely to be the sum of two independently published figures, for example an official count of registered firearms,* added to an estimate of illicit firearms,* perhaps from another source.
GunPolicy.org comparison charts rank each jurisdiction according to the total figure. Where possible, licit and illicit holdings are disaggregated in other categories within this section.
*These figures should also be displayed in the categories ‘Number of Registered Firearms’ and 'Estimated Number of Illicit Firearms'.