Just The Facts

US Gun Ownership Vs. The World

The share of global guns in the United States is at least ten times the country’s population share.


  • As of 2012, Americans owned at least 270 million firearms (or 42% of all firearms worldwide).
  • Half of the guns in the US are owned by merely 3% of Americans.

1. As of 2012, Americans owned at least 270 million U.S.-owned firearms (or 42% of all firearms worldwide).

2. That is almost ten times the 4.4% U.S. share of the world population. Credible estimates suggest that number and share might even be much higher.

3. The Washington Post estimated in 2013, based on projections from earlier government data, that there were actually 357 million U.S. guns.

4. If true, that would mean more than one gun per person. And it would mean Americans own just over half of all guns worldwide.

5. In reality, gun ownership is quite concentrated. Fewer than one in three Americans owns any guns at all.

6. Half of the U.S. guns (or as much as a quarter of the guns worldwide) are owned by merely 3% of Americans.

7. While the average U.S. gun owner owns three, those 3% own eight to 140 guns.

8. During President Barack Obama’s two terms in office, gun manufacturers marketed guns heavily to people who opposed Obama’s support for stricter gun control.

9. Gun ownership in the United States often went up during that period, even after major mass shootings, for fear of future restrictions.

10. That was a major windfall for U.S. and European gun manufacturers and no new gun control was enacted.

Sources: Small Arms Survey, Washington Post, New York Times, QZ, The Globalist Research Center

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