How Many Guns In The United States?

| March 7, 2013

The Facts

Based on consolidated information from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, there are about 300 millions guns in the United States.

“There’s no perfect estimate of firearms in the U.S. because creating a national registry of firearms is prohibited by federal law,” noted Alex Katz, a spokesman for Mayors Against Illegal Guns. “But academics and interest groups across the political spectrum broadly agree on the 300 million figure.”

Others Agree

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns coalition also quotes the figure, as does the National Rifle Association (NRA).

“The number of privately owned guns in the U.S. is at an all-time high, upwards of 300 million, and now rises by about 10 million per year,” said the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action in a firearms safety fact sheet released Jan. 17, 2013.

A November 2012 report titled “Gun Control Legislation” from the Congressional Research Service also supports that number, though ranks it a bit higher.

As of 2009, the report states, “the estimated total number of firearms available to civilians in the United States had increased to approximately 310 million: 114 million handguns, 110 million rifles, and 86 million shotguns.”

Production Statistic Limitations

The firearm production statistics are derived from reports of firearms manufacture, import, and export made the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. Estimates of firearm availability are derived by adding the net growth in the number of firearms (manufactures plus imports minus exports) to a base measure of firearms stock.

Production-based estimates have limitations in that they account for neither additions to the stock from illegal or other uncounted means nor losses from seized, lost, or nonworking firearms.

The data also exclude firearms manufactured or exported for the military but include firearms purchased by domestic law enforcement agencies.


There are roughly 300 million guns in the United States. Data from a variety of sources including the BATFE, Congressional Research Service, NRA and others all tend to confirm or reinforce that number.



  1. BATFE: Firearms Commerce In The United States (PDF)
  2. NRA Fact Sheet: Firearm Safety In America
  3. Congressional Research Service: Gun Control Legislation (2012) (PDF)

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