Citation(s) from the GunPolicy.org literature library
Karp, Aaron. 2018 ‘Civilian Firearms Holdings, 2017.’ Estimating Global Civilian-Held Firearms Numbers. Geneva: Small Arms Survey, the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva. 18 June
Uncertainty about any firearms data requires systematic estimation that relies on a broad spectrum of sources and makes approximation unavoidable. The Small Arms Survey's estimates of civilian firearms holdings use data gathered from multiple sources. However, with much of civilian ownership concealed or hard to identify, gun ownership numbers can only approximate reality.
Using data from several different sources, at the end of 2017 there were approximately 857 million civilian-held firearms in the world's 230 countries and territories. Civilian firearms registration data was available for 133 countries and territories. Survey results were used to help establish total gun civilian holdings in 56 countries. The new figure is 32 per cent higher than the previous estimate from 2006, when the Small Arms Survey estimated there were approximately 650 million civilian-held firearms.
Virtually all countries show higher numbers, although national ownership rates vary widely, reflecting factors such as national legislation, a country's gun culture, historical and other factors. While some of the increase reflects improved data and research methods, much is due to actual growth of civilian ownership.
[Editor's note: See the online annexe for a full breakdown of civilian firearm holdings by country/territory. Country/territory figures include total number of firearms, rate of firearms per 100 population, number of registered firearms, and the estimated number of unregistered firearms.]