Glossary, Definitions and Help - GunPolicy.org literature library

Rate of Civilian Firearm Possession per 100 Population
Definition and Selection Criteria

The crude rate of privately held firearms, both licit and illicit, per 100 head of population.

It is important to recognise that illicit firearms cannot be counted. In this category, only estimates of unlawful possession can be attempted. Our rate is calculated from 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 rate displayed in this category is likely to be calculated from 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 rate calculated from the total figure using a matched population estimate.

*These figures should also be displayed in the categories ‘Number of Registered Firearms’ and 'Estimated Number of Illicit Firearms'.

ID: G6