As America reels from yet another mass shooting, inevitable questions resurface about guns laws and the nation’s pervasive firearm culture. Here is a look at per capita weapons data, based on the ATF’s National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record, and 2013 data from the U.S. Census.
While the ATF’s National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record is the only accessible list of its kind, it is not all-inclusive. NFA firearms only include the categories regulated by The National Firearms Act of 1934: machine guns, short-barreled rifles, short-barreled shotguns, suppressors, destructive devices like bombs and grenades, concealable devices with the ability to discharge a shot through the energy of an explosive, and any firearm with a bore over half an inch that has not been determined to have a legitimate sporting use.
NFA items are a tiny subset of the larger number of firearms purchased every year and possessed by tens of millions of Americans. How CBS thought that the NFA database was in any way relevant to a discussion of firearms ownership in America is beyond comprehension. Unless they deliberately set out to underestimate U.S. per capita gun ownership.
The unspectacular results are pretty spectacular in their own entirely misleading way. I can’t speak for every state’s firearms ownership rate, but I’m up on Illinois stats. For my home state, CBS News claims “for every 1,000 residents in Illinois, there are 9.2 guns. That’s 118,295 registered firearms dispersed among 12,882,135 people.”
At first glance, a reader could easily think there are only 118,295 guns in The Land of Lincoln. “For every 1,000 residents in Illinois, there are 9.2 guns.” Yes, well . . .