ATF: 423M guns in America, 1.2 per person, 8.1B rounds of ammunition a year

423 million? As the late WeaponsMan Kevin O’Brien postulated. That number is a low estimate.

America’s love affair with guns is only getting stronger.

New federal data shows that there are 422.9 million firearms in circulation, or about 1.2 guns for every person in the country.

What’s more, despite years of criticism of modern “assault-style” rifles such as the AR-15 and AK-47, there are a record 17.7 million in private hands, proving that it is the most popular gun around.

And last year alone, the arms industry produced 8.1 billion rounds of ammunition.

The figures are from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and were crunched by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the gun industry trade group.

“These figures show the industry that America has a strong desire to continue to purchase firearms for lawful purposes,” said Joe Bartozzi, president of the NSSF, in a statement releasing the group’s new report.

“The modern sporting rifle continues to be the most popular centerfire rifle sold in America today and is clearly a commonly owned firearm with more than 17 million in legal private ownership today. The continued popularity of handguns demonstrates a strong interest by Americans to protect themselves and their homes and to participate in the recreational shooting sports,” he said.

Gun shops contacted by Secrets said that they are seeing more and more purchases of semiautomatic weapons such as handguns and AR-15s due to the criticism of those guns by 2020 Democratic presidential candidates.

“Sales have definitely been brisk, especially of small, concealable handguns. We also saw a spike in sales of tactical rifles like AR-15s and AK-47s, for which I think we can confidently thank Beto O’Rourke,” said Justin Anderson, the marketing director for Hyatt Guns in Charlotte, North Carolina, one of the country’s biggest retailers.

During his short presidential campaign, O’Rourke called for a ban on the rifles.

  • Of all rifles produced in 2017, 54% were modern sporting rifles.
  • In 2017, 7,901,218 total firearms were produced and imported. Of those, 4,411,923 were pistols and revolvers, 2,821,945 were rifles, and 667,350 were shotguns.
  • An interim 2018 estimate showed 7,660,772 total firearms were produced and imported. Of those, 4,277,971 were pistols and revolvers, 2,846,757 were rifles, and 535,994 were shotguns.
  • Firearms-ammunition manufacturing accounted for nearly 12,000 employees producing more than $4.1 billion in goods shipped in 2017.
  • An estimated 8.1 billion rounds, of all calibers and gauges, were produced in 2018 for the U.S. market.