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Are you having a down day today? Well here’s a little pick-me-up. According to something called the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva, The United States is – far and away – the most heavily armed country in the world. In fact, it wasn’t even much of a race. Read on to put a spring in your step and a frown on mikeb’s apple-cheeked face…

As relays the news, we have 90 guns for every 100 citizens. That doesn’t, of course, mean that 90% of the population owns guns. Just that we have lots o’ guns. As in more than anyone else. A lot more.

U.S. citizens own 270 million of the world’s 875 million known firearms, according to the Small Arms Survey 2007 by the Geneva-based Graduate Institute of International Studies.

About 4.5 million of the 8 million new guns manufactured worldwide each year are purchased in the United States, it said.

So we have 31% of all the known guns in the world. Clearly, other countries aren’t trying hard enough. It looks like we’re about to lap the field. The next closest countries in terms of the number of guns are India and China. But it’s probably the per capita figures that are more telling.

On a per-capita basis, Yemen had the second most heavily armed citizenry behind the United States, with 61 guns per 100 people, followed by Finland with 56, Switzerland with 46, Iraq with 39 and Serbia with 38.

France, Canada, Sweden, Austria and Germany were next, each with about 30 guns per 100 people, while many poorer countries often associated with violence ranked much lower. Nigeria, for instance, had just one gun per 100 people.

We’ll be happy to send a TTAG representative to the Graduate Institute to accept our first place trophy. Any volunteers?


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  1. “Any volunteers?”
    Maybe. How long is the train ride from Geneva to Amsterdam? 😉

  2. I would expect us to get first place, any day of the week, but YEMEN of all mid east countries as second? Pretty interesting, i would of thought Libya or Iraq because of the recentness of open warfare there. Was the stat on Yemen before or after the most recent political upheaval?

    • Yemen is the second-hand arms bazzar of the Middle East. Everything is legal. Rockets, grenades, anything that goes BOOM!!! There are several mail-order catalogs…

  3. At first glance I find this fairly unbelievable… has anyone from the “Graduate Institute of International Studies” visited Afghanistan lately? I suppose that the difference there is that while everyone in Afghanistan who owns a weapon is carrying it around all the time, people in the United States carry less often and those that do carry are a small percentage who own a large number of the weapons. I also wonder, do the numbers cited include military weapons?

  4. 90 guns per 100 people? Can that be possible?

    Gallup reports that 47% of American adults say that they have a gun in their home or elsewhere on their property. There are about 235 million adults in the US, which means that gun-owning adults number about 110 million (235 million x 47%).

    If 110 million adults own 270 million guns, that’s only two or three firearms per adult. So yeah, if the census and the Gallup poll are both correct (big IF), then the Geneva report may well be accurate.

    To quote from “Gangs of New York, “if you get all of us together, we ain’t got a gang, we’ve got an army.”

    • Ralph, your numbers are closer to mine. I found a Bureau of Justice Statistics study (which I can’t find now) estimating that the US had approximately 100,000 firearms per 100,000 population. After removing children and the institutionalized, that would be slightly more than 1 gun per adult.

      Or *much* higher, for TTAG readers and writers.

  5. “while many poorer countries often associated with violence ranked much lower. Nigeria, for instance, had just one gun per 100 people.”
    Wow an International Organization admitting that more guns=less violence.

    • Yep. And I like that two of the other high per-capita countries have outstanding records of freedom. Switzerland, the only country on the continent to stand up to the Third Reich…. and Finland, the only country on Russia’s border that stayed outside the Iron Curtain. Coincidence?

      • Switzerland, the only country on the continent to stand up to the Third Reich

        Actually, Switzerland was the banker for the Third Reich. It rolled over for the money; Switzerland made a fortune from kissing Hitler’s ass.

        • You’re right about that Ralph, although their air force did shoot done several German planes that crossed into their airspace.

      • Wow, the UK isn’t part of the continent of Europe? Could you please tell the European Parliment that please?

      • Actually, several countries “stood up” to Germany. Not always effectively, but certainly courageously. I recommend you not make your assertion to any people of close Polish decent, you might find yourself with a broken jaw.

  6. The Constitutional requirement, hidden in the penumbra of the 2nd Amendment, is that every American citizen is required to own AT LEAST one gun of every type for every year of their life. (You get to define “type”.) That is a minimum.

    I know I am doing my part. The rest of you slackers need to get your butts down to your local gun store and start catching up with your Constitutional duty. I strongly recommend going with a slightly modified version of one of the anti-gunners’ pipe dreams: plan on buying at least one new (to you) gun every month. Come on, that’s only 12 per year – you can do that!

    We also need to work on Congress and our state legislatures to provide tax credits for every gun we buy, up to a maximum of $12,000 per year. THAT would be an economic stimulus package the majority of Americans could support! And it would work a lot better than the idiotic “green energy” subsidies, because gun ownership ensures the continuation of individual liberty – the actual goal of the our Constitution.

    • IdahoPete:

      I’m not sure how well this obvious mandate is hidden in the penumbra since its emanation engulfs me every time I look at the displays and racks at the store. I don’t even need scholarly rationalizations—I simply feel compelled to follow the Constitution.

      Is it a new month already?

      • No need to wait – the “one gun of every type” and “one gun a month” are only a suggested MINIMUM. Feel free to buy as many as your finances will allow. And remember, if you can’t decide between two (or more) guns, buy them all!

  7. This has been the case for just about forever on a per capita basis. Afghanistan, and other countries, may be awash in arms but they have much smaller populations than the US and/or those firearms are largely controlled by their governments. The US continues to be the world’s largest firearms manufacturer and the largest market. Currently, we’re adding something north of 4,000,000 firearms annually to our arsenal. That 270,000,000 figure has been kicking around for quite a few years now; I’ve seen other estimates that say the US now has well over 300,000,000 firearms in civilian hands (and many billions of rounds of ammunition). I read awhile back that if one were to count all of the firearms held by the entire US military establishment and all of the entire nation’s law enforcement agencies, that figure would be something less than 4,000,000 firearms in total. So, US civilian firearm holdings could well outclass the governments holdings by a likely ratio of better than 75 to 1. That alone should make any red blooded American smile. Keep up the good work America and keep stimulating the economy!! A rifle behind every blade of grass indeed ;>)

  8. This is old news, the US followed by Yemen. Maybe this is a new report or something, but it’s certainly not news.

    Far from being proud of it we should hang our heads in shame.

    • Yes, clearly we’re not getting enough guns out there. The guns sides of the guns to people ratio should be larger than the people side, by at least two to one. I mean, everone needs a primary and a sidearm, right? And then when you consider the need for a backup gun, it should really be three to one.

      Thanks for cracking the whip Mike. We’ll get right on it.

      • I think you might be lowballing, Carlos. To wit:

        Carry gun
        Backup gun
        Home-defense gun
        Upland shotgun
        Waterfowl shotgun
        Evil black rifle
        Varmint rifle
        Deer rifle
        Elk rifle
        Moose rifle
        Dangerous game rifle
        Pre-May 19, 1986 weapon

        While I realize not all of us can assemble such a collection immediately, it’s good to have goals.
        [/tongue in cheek]

        • My bad.

          That’s 12:1, Mike, or around 3.72 billion firearms. We’ve got our work cut out for us.

            • No problemo, dude – that’s a good start, just keep reminding yourself of your constitutional duty every time you are in a gun store at at a gun show.

    • Eight of the eleven countries at the top of the list are also at the top of GDP per capita and educational attainment lists. In other words, Mike, gun ownership, per capita income, and education are a triad that appear to arise together in the world we live in. Except for a few small or sparsely populated countries recently experiencing civil war the correlation is nearly perfect. The US is, for all its guns, a safe place once you remove some gang-ridden urban neighborhoods of Chicago, New York, LA, and a few other urban areas in which guns cannot be legally carried. Surprise. In my home region if you removed about thirty ethnic/racial ghetto blocks of the city the region would reflect lots of guns and very very little gun crime. Like Switzerland.

    • Me thinks that mikeb is trying to stoke a fire simply by replying to a post. Every time I see him post there is a huge list of people that reply to him. In a way he is a lot like a Kardashian. The only reason they keep getting news is because people keep looking at news about them. Ignore mikeb and he will go away because if he gets no attention then why should he be here?

    • Guys, Mikey is right – we should hang out heads in shame. We can’t hold our heads high until we have 100% of adults owning at least one gun.

      If Obama can force us to buy insurance, then I say Congress needs to add an amendment that says that each adult must own at least one gun and be proficient with it.

  9. Lies, damn lies and statistics…

    There’s a huge difference between guns in civilian hands and guns in the hands of the police/military, so a mere x guns per y population doesn’t tell the story because in most countries, merely being part of the population doesn’t get you anywhere near gun ownership. The Soviet Union and Nazi Germany were both awash in guns from a numerical standpoint, but the vast, vast majority of those guns were carried by agents of the repressive state.

    So if the stat was not total guns but guns in civilian hands, I’d guess the US would beat out any other country by at least an order of magnitude.

  10. Currently my household is a 1:1 guns to people ratio, but when there’s more money again that will change. I’m looking to have it at around 2:1 or 3:1 in the next year or so by adding a handgun or two and maybe a rifle here or there.

  11. I’d like to ask you guys a question. How many guns do you own now, compared to one year ago and compared to 5 years ago?

    I’ll bet very few of you have gone down in number. Which could mean that the other highly criticized report might be true, that there are more guns but fewer gun owners or fewer households with guns.

    What do you think?

    • Five years ago, I didn’t own a gun. Today, I own X firearms. Five years ago my wife wouldn’t think of owning a gun. Today, she owns x firearms. I can think of at least five of my co-workers who have gotten their permit to carry in the last year and a half. Not looking good for your theory…

      • lol moon, +1. i have also become a shooter in the past decade and would never look back from it, i admit it, i’m hooked…

    • 5 years ago:
      Me: 0
      Sister: 0
      Brother: 0
      Son: 0

      Me: 7
      Sister: 2
      Brother: 3
      Son: 1

      Count my family in for 13 additional guns, 4 additional gun-owners, and 4 additional households.

    • I’ve been on a ‘replacement only’ path for years because I’ve been a hunter and skeet shooter for 44 years, since age 16. I have upgraded a bit when replacements occur. Comes with prosperity, perhaps. However, my three brothers vary. One is equally successful and recently decided the 2nd Amendment wasn’t safe if it wasn’t exercised. Another is the super-liberal registered Dem of the family. His wives (one after another) have been the raving left delegation at Thanksgiving dinners. He is anti-gun without reserve. Make that ‘was.’ He’s just bought a little LC9 because he finally realized that in the neighborhoods to which social work takes him, some of the fellows aren’t left or right, they’re just bad. Sign of the times, Mikey. Having spent a great deal of time in Sweden, I’ve yet to meet a land-owner who does not have two rifles and a shotgun, the legal limit for licensed hunters. Across Europe there are hundreds of thousands (perhaps millions) of pistols safely packaged and buried in the backyard, against the day the (pick one) Germans, Russians, or native fascists come back. It’s a practice with sound historical validation.

    • I never bought a gun until…wait for it…November 2008…for…wait for it…my wife. A couple months listening to complaints about me hogging her piece, I had to get one of my own. My son was given a pair of .22s the day he got home from the hospital, so you could count him as a really new gun owner. They’re locked up and waiting for him to be ready to shoot, of course. We’re all NRA life members now and I’m currently trying to stick to a 1 gun per year plan so we don’t run out of room to keep ’em all.

      I recently started working at a very liberal office and didn’t think it was wise to bring up any conversations about guns. But then another guy went to the range and took an introductory course with…wait for it…the Pink Pistols. Then he hung the target in his cubicle and all the ladies were a buzz about how fun it must have been and how they wanted to try shooting too. Now I’m surrounded by a bunch of birkenstock wearing rights vegan chicks packing heat in their Prii.

      But Mikey’s probly right, there’s gotta be like maybe something less than 50% as many gun owners today as there was before the financial crisis and 2008 election cycle.

    • I went from owning zero guns to owning quite a few just in the last six months. My girlfriend went from zero guns to owning guns in the last few months as well (as did several of our friends).

    • I went one further. I now teach pistol safety. I help about … 6 people a month become first-time gun owners. Mostly women, young and old. Even a few Mensans. I have 4 people scheduled for this Saturday morning.

      • JJ, I’ll bet you’re convinced that the accidents, negligence, theft and general misuse that all those students of yours end up doing will add up to nothing at all compared to the legitimate life-saving DGUs.

        Am I right?

        • I would imagine that people who take a class are a whole lot less likely to have accidents. That’s why they call them “gun safety courses”. It’s to teach safety. Safety being the key word here.

          • Mikeb famously believes that “Children can not be educated!”.

            I guess he thinks that applies to adults as well…..

        • Right – because that’s what most people do with guns. A significant number of the people I know own guns. Some have had military training or are cops, but most of them have never taken a gun safety class and yet no one has ever had a negligent discharge or any other accident with their gun.

          Now if only you could stick to the realm of reality – but we all know a delusional troll like you can’t do that….

    • Last year at this time I did not own a gun nor did my wife, either of my sons, my brother or my best friend.

      I am now the proud owner of 2 rifles, 3 handguns and a shotgun. My wife has a revolver, each of my sons has a semi-automatic pistol, my brother a semi-auto, my best friend has 2 semi-autos and his son has a semi-auto. On top of that, I plan to purchase at least 2 more rifles and 2 more handguns this year and my brother and best friend also plan further purchases. Only downside? Even though I thought I purchased a large enough gun safe, I was wrong….wife says I need to go buy another 🙂 Oh, and I almost forgot—-my best friend’s wife, who is so liberal she makes Nancy Pelosi look like Michael Savage, also now has a semi-auto.

    • Robert, Would you consider making this the subject of a new post. It got some traction right here in the middle of this thread.

      Coming from you I’ll bet the guys would love to brag about how many guns they own. And then I can somehow use that against you.

  12. We only purchase half of the firearms built each year? That’s just unacceptable. I won’t rest until it’s at least 75%.

    Time to go shopping.

    • Vaguely reminds me of the opening quote from “Lord of War”.

      “There are over 550 million firearms in worldwide circulation. That’s one firearm for every twelve people on the planet. The only question is: How do we arm the other 11? “

      • I do not think the collective creativity of the entire stable of writers on TTAG could generate half the duh-particles MikeyB puts out organically.

        No offense, Mike.

        • None taken because I don’t believe you mean it. That attitude is useful in keeping me in my place in a non-substantive way.

          My main point is always the same. Gun owners should be better screened and better qualified.

          It’s hard to argue against something that reasonable without using every trick at your disposal, like pretending that I keep generating “duh-particles.”

          • Did you just say I should be better screened and better qualified?

            And did you just say that to say so is reasonable?


          • Just like the police are?

            ROTFLMFAO, ROTFLMFAO, ROTFLMFAO, ROTFLMFAO, ROTFLMFAO………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….INFINITY AND BEYOND

          • just like the young woman who shot the intruder in Oklahoma? SHE WASN’T EVEN “SCREENED” by any criteria you can throw out, yet you said it was a good DGU. Mike – you are an inconsistent internet troll.

          • “My main point is always the same. Gun owners should be better screened and better qualified.”

            I’ll do that when you agree that people who wish to express their views to others or reproduce should be better screened and qualified (thus eliminating you from posting your absurd comments or ever producing more legally retarded Mikey Jr’s).

          • Can we apply that to a few other rights? Such as your right to vote, and your right to free speech? I don’t FEEL that you have been properly screened or qualified to comment on anything related to firearms, so would you please not make any more comments until I approve of you? I will get back to you on that approval process – but rest assured, it will be “reasonable”.

            What part of “fundamental human right” [Heller vs. D.C., US Supreme Court] is so hard for you to understand, man?

  13. I didn’t see Israel on this list, and I’m pretty sure their citizens own plenty of guns. I own more guns every year because I keep buying new guns and I don’t sell any of the old ones. Several of my friends became new gun owners over the last few years, and they now have several different guns.

    • If that post is correct, it looks like Israel is more interested in protecting the state than the people.

      There is some irony though, that in Israel they arm you with full auto if you live in a “danger zone.” But in the U.S., we do our best to make sure our citizens are disarmed in “danger zones.” Yakov Smirnoff should be all over that one.

    • Counter-intuitive as all hell, huh? I mean, really; a country that has, as its sole purpose for existence, being the *only* Jewish state in the world, and which is surrounded by hostile nations and the sea.

      I’d think that the two items they would want citizens familiar with are guns and boats, but that shows what you get when you flee Europe–because it isn’t a safe place for Jews–only to RECREATE Europe in the new Jewish state.

  14. What probably pushes the U.S. ahead of, e.g., Afghanistan, is that there are many people who own a *lot* of weapons. It is not unusual for a hunter to have several rifles plus a shotgun, a small-arms aficionado to have several handguns plus some long guns, etc. We still are a long way from a majority of the populace having a firearm — but there’s hope.

  15. Okay, we’ve got a lot of guns. Most of them are concentrated in the hands of people who own more guns than they have trigger fingers with which to shoot all the guns. China still has more trigger fingers, which are the hardest and most time consuming parts to manufacture and the most crucial part of the weapon, so we’ve got a long way to achieving dominance.

  16. Under the category of useful stats I ( and maybe ‘we’ ) would like to see:
    1. A Reasonable estimate of the total number of bullets discharged ( fired, (shot, launched, propelled, expelled, & etc. ) via firearms in the U.S. each year.
    That number could be divided by 365 to get an estimated average per day.
    Since the number of bullets discharged in which no law was broken, no person’s rights were violated and no person was injured is, at least thousands of times greater ( if not hundreds of thousands of times greater ) than the number of bullets discharged in which a law was broken, a person’s rights were violated and/or injury resulted, this info would ( or potentially could ) prove very useful.
    Maybe someone could then determine the number of people within the group discharging all those bullets who are not uh, “better screened and better qualified.” ( Not that it would to some, but maybe it might to a reasonable person, I don’t know )
    2. Stats on Crimes committed in the U.S. by non-U.S. Citizens using a GUN.
    While stats are available for various categories of crime including VIOLENT CRIME and GUN CRIMES which occur in the U.S–and every GUN CRIME is of course proof that more GUN CONTROL LAWS are needed—the fact is, a considerable number of these crimes are NOT committed by U.S. Citizens at all, but are perpetrated by persons who are in the country illegally, persons who have been granted visas by the government, people from other countries who have been ‘resettled’ and/or persons naturalized as Citizens.
    Q = “Who is responsible, who gets the rap and who suffers the consequences?”
    Just asking.

  17. Now here’s a wild thought that will really put things in perspective. The U.S. has 31% of the guns in the entire world according to the article. Can we claim 31% or more of the violent crime that happens world wide?

    I would bet a year’s salary that we experience way less than 31% of of the violent crime that happens world wide. That would be an incredibly compelling factoid!

    • @Capn Crunch
      “That would be an incredibly compelling factoid!”
      especially if you figure what part of that is “Governments” committing crimes against their own Citizens.

  18. You’ll note my family name is Swiss. We came to The Colonies in 1715.
    I get to go receive the award.
    They love us, they really really love us.

  19. 10,8000,000 guns sold last year .We had better join ranks in case osama gets re-elected in the next election. He has made no secret that tightening gun laws will be high on his list as he will be a lame duch and will have nothing to lose by pissing off all gun owners.

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