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The number of private firearms in the United States continues to soar. According to Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, (ATF) figures just released, the number of firearms added to the private stock in 2015 was 12,945,416. That total lags a bit more than a year because the ATF is legislatively bound to hold the numbers for at least that long before releasing them. This protects the various companies’ proprietary rights and possible competitive advantages that come with the numbers.

The 2015 numbers bring the total number of private firearms in the United States to 388.5 million, almost the total I predicted a year ago. From Gun Watch, 1 September, 2015:

At the end of 2015, the stock should be at 388+ million firearms. Given the current trend, another 12 million or more firearms will be added in 2016, bringing the total stock to 400 million+ firearms by the end of the Obama presidency.

At the end of 2008 and the beginning of the Obama presidency, there were about 308 million private firearms in the United States. After eight years of President Obama in the highest executive position, I predict that there will be over 400 million.

In 2016, there were 27,538,673 NICS checks performed. That conservatively translates into another 15.6 million firearms added to the private stock in the United States.

NICS checks are done for reasons other than firearm purchases. NICS performs a check when people buy firearms from federally licensed dealers in the United States. The system is also used to perform background checks on people applying for firearm carry permits in those states where such permits are required or offered by law.

There’s also the fact that one check is performed when purchasing multiple firearms. So while the number of NICS checks isn’t a perfect measure of the number of firearms sold, a good rule of thumb is that the average number of private firearms added to the US stock is typically about .6 firearms per NICS check.

So “Trump slump” or no, Americans’ demand for for firearms shows no sign of significantly reducing any time soon.


©2017 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

Gun Watch

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  1. Wife stopped by the shop the other day and was boasting (BOASTING, I tell you!) that the next gun we buy is hers… because I have plenty already and she still needs a good carry piece.
    This seemed to amuse the female customers arrayed before me…
    Well. At least she’s picked out a nice piece.

  2. That stat sucks; no discernible bump in advance of Hillary’s expected presidency as well as historically low pricing & high availability of everything ‘gun’? Not buying it.

    • Agreed… the +340million number has been around since the 90’s and the first Clinton swing at guns. Im hard pressed to believe that only* 60million guns have been added to the pool in the last 25’ish years.
      There was an article here a few weeks ago that the number could be pushing 700million that was more believable.

      • I’ve been saying the number is over 450 million for years now. Maybe even a half a billion. Heck- there’s been close to 300 million NICS checks just since they began in 1998. There’s only 16 million permits in the US- so those NICS aren’t substantial. And I figure the amount of used transfers using NICS is balanced out by the number of NICS that cover multiple firearms on the same check. Then you have to figure that there was at least 150-200 million guns in civilian circulation before NICS started checking 19 years ago. The filthy anti-gunners underestimate on purpose, so the idea of confiscation won’t seem so daunting to naive fencesitters and fascist politicians.

      • This also discounts states that don’t require an NICS check for concealed permit holders. I, for one, haven’t had a background check in years (other than renewing my license). That doesn’t mean I haven’t been purchasing…

  3. Winning😆😆😆😆 I keep adding to the #. The wife says she wants a snubbie. I guess it never ends…

    • “The wife says she wants a snubbie.”

      And you didn’t tell her she can get a snubbie every night if she just asks? 😉

      (That was a bit mean. The Devil made me do it… 🙂 )

      • Well, to some, a 1/2″ makes all the difference in the world…like cut twice and it’s still too short.

        Then again, some peoples definition of a snubbie could be 15″ long and 8″ thick. Oh, and something about Shannon Watts.

    • “The actual number probably starts with a 5.”

      I have heard the Feds assume a certain percentage of the total is assumed broken beyond repair-destroyed each year, so it well could be there are more in circulation…

  4. It amazes me when people from other countries express such concern over our “gun culture” and homicide rate (always adding the suicides as though they are murders) and yet totally ignore that there are 400 million firearms in private hands (approximately).

    If our “gun culture” was as dangerous as the antis (and muggles) seem to think then those 400 million guns would signify the end of civilization as we know it, not freedom and safety.

    • “then those 400 million guns would signify the end of ANTIFA and their allies…”

      /fixed it for you.

  5. Interesting. But we all know that’s not even close to the real number.

    “… behind every blade of grass!”

  6. We should be ashamed of ourselves. We need to get those numbers over a billion and stat. I’ve done my part, now do yours! More guns = less crime!

  7. The current population of the United States is 324,485,597 (give or take a few). Now, I know how many guns I have (give or take a few) and you gents probably have as many as I do or maybe even more. Obviously, there are those who are just plain slackers who are skewing the statistics. We need to encourage everyone we know who DOESN’T have a firearm to GET one posthaste instead of going about unarmed and relying upon others to get the numbers up. As Winston Churchill memorably said, “Never in the history of mankind has so much been owed by so many to so few”.

    • When talking about how many guns per person there are in the US, remember that thanks to Lyndon “In your guts you know he’s nuts” Johnson ~22.8% of the US can’t legally buy a gun from an FFL (and can’t own a handgun period) through no fault of their own. Another 2.5% are felons (plus who knows how many misnomer domestic assaults) and can’t own a gun through fault of their own (and Lyndon “for Christmas I’ll give the Pope a statue of myself” Johnson). A further 7% are non-citizens (according to the census, so no idea how accurate that number is with all the illegals) and if we’re generous and assume 20% of those are are minors to avoid double counting the overlap (even though the number of child that are non-citizen residents will likely be much lower) and that some will have a hunting license or be embassy guards, that’s still another 5.6% that can’t own guns because of Lyndon “flash his Johnson” Johnson.

      Combined that’s over 30%, almost 31%, of the population and that’s not even figuring out how many people are so heavily disabled (coma, vegetative state, blind, no use of arms ect.) they can’t go and get a gun or have no way of actually using one, nor fill out a 4473. There are only ~224,219,547 people in the US eligable to own a gun. That low estimate of 404 million guns in private hands makes up 1.8 guns per eligible person.

      • You’re not REALLY discounting the felons who “can’t have guns”, are you? Baltimore alone would knock that number into a cocked hat by a VERY considerable number.

        • Since the article’s estimates rely on NICS checks, and those who know they are prohibited persons don’t bother with them, such people are, of necessity, excluded from the estimates.
          But, yes, if we include “illegal” guns, the number rises perceptively.

          • Only 2016 numbers rely on NICS checks. The ATF is the source for 1988-2015 numbers, Point Blank by Kleck is the source for 1945-1987 numbers.

            The numbers are all for 1899 and later guns, based on number of guns manufactured, imported, and exported, with the assumption that leakage from the military (not counted in manufacturers numbers), illegally imported, and homemade guns roughly offset destruction by loss, abuse, wear, and government destruction.

    • nah, im in a decidedly not-free state and i’m doing just fine keeping the 2nd amendment alive and well

    • There’s 8+ million gun owners in the slave state of CA. I have a safe full of guns and know many more like me.

      We bolster those numbers.

    • Source? Or are you just one of those people who happens to live within the bounds of a state that (for now) has better gun laws and thinks because of it, you’re “more gun”?

      I live in upstate NY. Everyone owns guns up here. The local FFL can’t keep stripped lowers on his shelf for any length of time, they are always sold out within a couple of days. There are a constant stream of gun shows. Upstate is literally awash in guns.

      I must be mistaken, though. No one is buying anything here. All of the sales are in “free states”. I guess the local gun shops are staying in business with good feelings and rose colored glasses. Some guy on the internet suggested it.

  8. These numbers are good for “feelz”, but how can the inventory be correct? We have absolutely no empirical evidence of the number of guns on hand before strict records were kept. Before background checks. Guns purchased through the mail from companies long out of business. The touted number is only a SWAG. Believing and promoting such numbers puts us in the same choir as the gun-grabbers, who we love to shame because of their unsupportable numbers underpinning gun controls.

    • Absolutely agree. The government has no way of knowing the number of firearms owned prior to gun registration. I have several purchased from pawn shops back in the day and individuals with no paper trail. Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics. All the same Bullshit made up to make a point that can’t be proven.

  9. Not counting the non firearm (ATF rules ) black powders, I am up to 36, pistols rifles shotties, derringers. I know others who have more than 2 in the home. So I am reading closer to a high 5 in front of all those other digits. Maybe pushing 6 mil. Would probably have added even more this year but bought a used car for 3500 cash so money spent elsewhere for now. Need to make that up later this year.

    • See? That’s what I meant about those slackers, only having 36 firearms. You must get MORE or Shannon Watts won’t pay the least bit of attention to you!

  10. Simple math–everytime the dem/libs ban a style of weapon===it selling like hotcakes for months
    They do it to themselves

    Bought a AR just because of law changing!

  11. According to the MSM, this means that there are ten super-collectors out there, each owning 40 million guns.

  12. Thank you Barry Hussein Marshall-Davis aka “Barack Hussein Obama” and Diane Rodham alias “Hillary Hubbell-Clinton” for ajob “well done”, 99.9999% of THOSE firearms are in OUR, the Constitution-loving “Right’s” hands.

    Those two aforementioned Revolutionary Communist/Socialist idiots and their minions helped Make America Great Again, they’ve been the biggest gift to the 2nd Amendment and us “(R)right-thinking” folk in a century. I told people for eight years prior to 2016 that this nation would “swing back” it has and we possess the means to make sure it stays that way.

  13. these numbers I understand do not include gun more than 50 or 60 years old… My personal collection has almost 100 firearms of this description 80 of them cartridge firearms that a get a great deal of fun out of shooting…. and just because a gun is in the C&R or full antique category does not make it less than functional… my collection of semi auto pistols made between 1896 and 1915 is just as effective as dull matt finish Glock… yes the 7.63mm arm for the broom handle 1896 is a bit hard to source but modern 5.56 stripper clips work just fine and once you learn the drill reloading can be almost as fast as a magazine exchange the wooden holster stock turns it in to what is effectively a short barreled rifle and as its serial number places its date of manufacture in 1897 it is classed by the ATF as an antique….

    but for some reason old guns are not a factor in that official count…. if you add up all the still functional guns from the cartridge era say 1870 onward for which ammo is still available or can be hand loaded by modifying a current cartridge case and then guns in bedside tables drawers all over the country would add a huge number to the count.

  14. I think there are a lot of pre-GCA1968 guns out there in private collections. Think about “The Dragon Man” in Nevada, who has ordinance by the warehouse-full. I met a guy about thirty years ago who claimed he had over 500 in his personal collection (both pre and post 1968.). The Gun Magazines we all read at one time or another do a fine job of telling us “YOU need one of these, and one of those and this one, too!” and so we buy, buy, buy. There are many “home assembled” AR-15’s, home built 1911’s (though those would have a DROSSED Frame after 1968 and before that you could buy the whole pistol Mail Order, so I doubt many were home-built in those days.).

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the Gubment’s figures are short by over 100 million. Every time I go into the local major gun seller chain in CA, I see multiple people buying guns, shopping for guns and picking-up guns any hour of the day, any day of the week. The same applies to Independent Gun Shops.

    Shooting Ranges in Southern CA are busy all day, everyday of the week whether indoor or outdoor and we could stand quite a few more. People who don’t own are in the Ranges renting guns.

    Writing for Concealed Nation Brandon Curtis compiled an estimate of the number of guns by State and published it online in January 2016. [ I am not sure that I totally buy his methodology, but take a look for yourself at the following link.]

    Yeah, we Americans do own a lot of guns…

  15. I wonder if this includes guns that happened to be tragically lost in a boating accident. As mine all were.

  16. And there are roughly 250 million cars on the roads in the US with 40,000 deaths and 4.6 million injured per year, yet with more than twice the number of guns in private hands we have roughly 11,000 murders with a firearm and 73,000 injuries. I’d love to see a study that shows a comparative proportional chart to european countries using the amount of guns in private hands and the incidence of criminal usage and injury.

    • Since the vast majority of deaths by auto are accidental, a more proper comparison to deaths by gun would include only accidental deaths. And they are very few, compared to the numbers involved.
      IOW, guns are much safer than cars.

  17. 400 million is probably on the low end, but for a hard figure, sure, we can roll with it.

    Remember, there are people out there who think they can make all those guns go away if the government says “turn them all in”.

    • Sadly, all of us that read this blog have all our guns on a list. It is the old grandpas and grandmas that have unregistered guns. So when they come to take registered weapons, the unregistered ones will just evaporate when those old timers die – That’s my story and we should all stick to it.

      • There will never be enough manpower on hand to confiscate all of the registered or unregistered guns in our Country, the manpower it would take to confiscate 400 million guns is mind boggling. That’s not even talking about all of the resistance they would encounter, not to mention the time it would take even if you did have the manpower to take on such an enormous task. It would be a pretty unsavory event to say the least.

  18. I still don’t believe that the ATF’s numbers are accurate, the late ‘Weapons Man’ had a much better methodology for determining that number.

  19. The total number HAS to be FAR more. The Feds didn’t track civilian firearm sales untill less than a few dacades ago. I own only one firearm manufactured and or sold in that timeframe. From my SMLE built in 1906 to my Browning A5 built in 1935 to my Marlin 30-30 built in 1980, my Ruger superBlackhawk 44 mag made in 1982…..I think my Rem 870 from 1997 is the only one counted. And I am only one guy. Guns tend to last a LONG time

  20. I’ll admit it. I’m a gun junkie buying several a month. I have a few that are safe quunees but most I fire both handguns and rifles.

  21. I do my part
    My wife got a Walter PPK/s two years ago, I got a Sig 938 last year and a CZ Scorpion this year
    I’ve been buying a gun a year for a while now
    Weapons man did a lot of math to estimate 400 to 600 million privately held guns in the US

  22. How can anyone assign a number to something that can’t be quantified? Inheritance of collections are not figured in, they can’t be. This discussion has no merit!

  23. Damn, if you own a whopping 380 guns, it’s only a one-millionth of the privately owned guns in the U.S.

    I hope our politicians and judges start thinking about how screwed they will be (once the rule of law finally keels over dead at their hands). Their decisions, names, faces and even fingerprints are a matter of record. Hiding won’t really be an option for them.

    Hopefully they wise up. 🙂

  24. Meh, the number 300 million was floating around at the time where NICS were created, and since then we added like 200 million.

  25. 1. There is about 404 million FIREARMS IN THE( 50) STATES in AMERICAN. THERE IS MORE LONG GUNS ; RIFLES,SHOTGUNS IS 2/3S & 1/3 Handguns ,semi auto PISTOLS & REVOLVERS TOO> MEANING IS 2/3 semi auto pistols : & 1/3 Revolvers HANDGUNS!!!

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