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Gun Ownership: The 2013 Numbers Are In

In the July 2014 edition of the Michigan Open Carry Newsletter I presented a detailed analysis of private firearms ownership in the United States.  I estimated that, as of a year ago, conservatively we probably have well over 350 million guns in this country.  That prediction was based on my estimate of 15 million firearms being manufactured/imported/sold in the United States in 2013.

Well, the official 2013 numbers are now in.  (The ATF is always one year behind, and this year they were very late).  Not only did the numbers meet my expectation, they exceeded it by a good margin.  I expected at least 15 million new guns in 2013, and in fact there were nearly 16.4 million.  (If you read the report from the ATF will might think there were more than 16.4 million, but the report has an addition error in it.  Either that or one of the numbers is transcribed incorrectly. Yes, I do the math so you don't have to).

So how do the numbers turn out?

Between 2008 and 2013 Americans manufactured, imported, and for all practical purposes purchased over 64 million guns.  If you add the estimated 2014 numbers in, we’re at about 80 million new guns just in the last six years alone.  If you look at what’s happened since Barack Obama took office in January 2009, you can see how the numbers have skyrocketed.

Data from the BATFE’s “Firearms Commerce in the United States Annual Statistical Update” and the U.S. International Trade Commission. Graph by author

What is even more interesting, though, is the rapid rise in NFA items being manufactured and purchased by citizens.  For more details, read the report yourself.  In 2015 we are just now beginning to see normalcy return to firearms and ammunition availability and pricing.  But that has only been achieved through the highly elevated output manufacturers have risen to really over the last three years.  Although we don’t have the domestic firearms manufacturing numbers in for 2014 yet, we do have the NICS checks numbers in and they are still running strong.  We may be at a new normalcy of 14 – 16 million new gun sales per year for a while.  Only time will tell.  I still predict that we will easily shatter the 400 million mark well before this decade is out.

If you are interested in a more complete analysis of gun ownership and who is buying guns, please read my original article in the July 2014 issue of the Michigan Open Carry Newsletter.