From the National Shooting Sports Foundation® (NSSF®), comes these interesting numbers.
NSSF is the firearms industry trade association, and they released the 2017 Firearms Production Report to members. The report compiles the most up to date information based on data sourced from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF’s) Annual Firearms Manufacturing and Export Reports (AFMER). Key findings for public release showed:
• The estimated total number of firearms in civilian possession from 1986-2018 is 422.9 million, according to data reported in the ATF’s Firearms Commerce Report in the United States 2019 report and including the preliminary 2018 Annual Firearms Manufacturing and Exportation Report (AFMER) figures.
• 17,740,000 Modern Sporting Rifles are in private ownership today.
• More than half (54%) of all rifles produced in 2017 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 a total 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. Those are interim reports and will be updated as complete information becomes available.
• Firearms-ammunition manufacturing accounted for nearly 12,000 employees producing over $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.
“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 National Shooting Sports Foundation. “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.”
The report also shows that as lawful firearms ownership in America continues to grow, criminal and unintentional misuse of firearms is falling. During the 25-year period covered in this report (1993–2017) the violent crime rate has decreased by 48.6 percent and unintentional firearm-related fatalities have declined by 68 percent.
And get this from a recent Fox News report:
The FBI ran the second-highest number of gun background checks on Black Friday 2019, which is an 11 percent increase from the previous year and an indication that firearm sales are on the rise, officials said.
The agency conducted 202,465 gun background checks on Nov. 29, 2019, which is the second-highest number seen since the bureau implemented the checks in 1998. This year’s big-shopping day is second only to Black Friday 2017, when the FBI ran 203,086 checks, records show.
Black Friday’s numbers were 11 percent higher than 2018, when 182,093 checks were fielded, according to the data.
Though the agency’s background check data typically includes permit checks and re-checks and is, therefore, higher than the number of actual gun sales, it is often indicative of trends in sales in the firearm industry.
Mark Oliva, director of public affairs for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, called the FBI’s gun background check records the closest barometer available to gauge firearms sales.
“This tells us Americans are voting with their wallets when it comes to their ability to exercise Second Amendment rights,” he told FOX Business. “Interestingly, Americans are turning out to buy the firearms they want in increasing numbers even as politicians on the national stage and in some states are increasingly vocal on restricting Second Amendment rights.”
Oliva said the decision to buy a firearm is not “made on a whim,” instead describing it as a “significant investment.”
“Americans are choosing to invest their hard-earned dollars in their ability [to] exercise their rights and buy the firearms they want before gun control politicians attempt to regulate away that ability,” Olivia said.
Roughly 1.2 million firearms were sold nationwide in October 2019, a 10.8 percent increase from October 2018, according to arms and ammo analytics research consultancy Small Arms Analytics and Forecasting. September’s sales were estimated to be about 1.1 million, an increase of nearly 11 percent from the same period a year ago.
Data from the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System shows the agency performed 2.4 million background checks for potential gun purchasers in October 2019, which is the highest number of checks recorded by the agency for that month. The second-highest recorded year for October’s background checks was 2016, when 2.3 million checks were conducted.
Gun sales are expected to spike this holiday season amid public and political pressure for stricter gun control laws.
In the past five years, there have been at least 33 mass shootings, which are defined as those in which four or more people were killed, not including the shooter, according to the Congressional Research Service.
Democratic presidential contenders have since come out strong against certain kinds of firearms, or in favor of stronger gun control practices, and some retail chains, including Dick’s Sporting Goods, have since opted not to sell them.
In September, nearly 150 business executives called on Senate to pass legislation to enforce stricter firearm background checks and stronger gun laws.
The way I see it, while these efforts appear viable in practice, how will they determine if someone has an undiagnosed mental problem and suddenly goes off the deep end because someone or something set them off. Strong gun laws are already on the books in places like Chicago, California, New York and New Jersey, but firearm crimes still occur.
Nick Hromiak has been an outdoors and automotive writer for over 30 years. He's been published in numerous national and state-wide outdoor magazines and newspapers.