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NSSF Releases New Data on Current Firearms Ownership in the U.S.

(AP Photo/ Rick Bowmer)

The National Shooting Sports Foundation has released new and updated data on current firearms ownership in the United States.  

-In 2018, 11.4 million total firearms were produced or imported in the United States (less exported firearms).

-Approximately one-half (48%) of all rifles produced and imported (less exports) in 2018 were Modern Sporting Rifles.

-Since 1990, there are an estimated 19.8 million Modern Sporting Rifles (MSRs) in circulation today.

-An interim 2019 estimate showed a total of 6 million total firearms were produced in the United States. Of those, 3.6 million were pistols and revolvers, 2 million were rifles and 480,000 were shotguns. Those are interim figures that will be updated when complete reports become available from the ATF.

-In 2019, there were approximately 3.3 million firearms imported into the United States which included 2.3 million pistols and revolvers, 301,000 rifles and 678,000 shotguns.

-From 1991 to 2019, nearly 214 million firearms have been made available to the U.S. market.

-According to reports such as: ATF Firearms Commerce in the United States, ATF AFMER and Congressional Research Service data, there are an estimated 434 million firearms in civilian possession in the United States.

-There are approximately 71.2 million pistol magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds, and 79.2 million rifle magazines capable of holding 30 or more rounds in circulation.

-Firearm and ammunition manufacturing accounted for nearly 12,000 employees producing over $3.9 billion in goods shipped in 2018. An estimated 8.7 billion rounds of all calibers and gauges were produced in 2018 for the U.S. market.

-During the 28-year period covered by this report (1991–2018) the violent crime rate has decreased by 51.3 percent and unintentional firearm-related fatalities have declined by 68.2 percent.


With the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic and riots in major cities across the country, 2020 has been a record year for firearms sales -- with first time gun owners leading the charge. 

“These figures, combined with the record-breaking 17.2 million NSSF-adjusted background checks for the sale or transfer of a firearm in the first ten months of 2020, demonstrates that Americans have a strong desire to continue purchasing firearms for lawful purposes,” NSSF President and CEO Joe Bartozzi released in a statement. “The Modern Sporting Rifle continues to be the most popular rifle sold in America today, and with nearly 20 million in circulation, is clearly a commonly-owned firearm that is being used for lawful purposes every day in America. The continued popularity of handguns demonstrates a strong interest by Americans to protect themselves, their family and homes, as well as to participate in the recreational shooting sports.”

In October alone, 1.76 million FBI background checks were conducted for new guns sales. The annual total for 2020 so far is 17.2 million, beating the previous 2016 record of 15.7 million. 

"The sales surge started in earnest in March, when 2.3 million background checks were conducted for the sale of a firearm. That was the most ever recorded in a single month since record keeping began in 1999. Since then, between 1.6 and 2.2 million checks have been conducted each month, giving each month since March the strongest month on record. That’s right. Each month has been a record-setting month," NSSF Senior Vice President and General Counsel Larry Keane wrote last month. "That’s brought us to these most recent figures, which blew past 2019’s totals long ago and just zipped by the 2016 record. Here’s the kicker. There’s still two months of sales to count, and traditionally they are two of the busiest months of the year."


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