A Factual Look at Guns in America
The firearm debate in America is a contentious one – and understandably so. Like any tool, they can be used to take lives or save them. Often times we only hear about the former, so we created American Gun Facts to show how guns are actually used by the vast majority of gun owners.
46% of U.S. Households Own a Gun
~460 Million Guns
Owned by U.S. Citizens
1 Million Guns
Owned by Police
4.5 Million Guns
Owned by U.S. Military
Source: Small Arms Survey + New gun sales
Guns Used in Self Defense
According to the National Research Council study done during Obama’s presidency, guns are used for self defense between:
500,000 – 3 Million Times Every Year
(That comes out to 57 – 93 times every hour!)
Because many cases of self defense are not reported to the police, the real number may be on the higher end.
In 81.9% of these self defense uses of a firearm, the gun was never fired.
31% of the time, simply telling the criminal of the firearm was enough to prevent the crime from taking place. Very few of these types of incidents are ever reported to police.
Criminal Acquisition of Guns
Politicians will often talk about “the gun show loophole” and make it seem as if that was a primary source of guns being used to carry out crimes in America today. However, a U.S. Department of Justice survey of prison inmates who had used a gun to carry out their crime found that only:
Only 0.8% of Criminals Purchased Their Gun at a Gun Show
An analysis of the FBI crime statistics found that U.S. counties that adopted
Concealed carry laws saw a REDUCTION OF:
U.S. Rifle Stats
Whenever people start trying to ban guns, “assault” rifles such as the AR-15 are usually where they start. However, the number of homicides committed with rifles in the U.S. is very low.
Things That Kill More People Than Rifles
Here are a list of 5 things politicians could ban that would actually save more lives than an assault rifle ban.
You are nearly twice as likely to be murdered by being punched or kicked than you are from being shot by a rifle.
Police vs. Armed Citizens
Law enforcement can be invaluable if you are in a life threatening situation, but they are not always around.
Citizens have recently surpassed police in the number of justifiable killings of a criminal to protect their life or the life of another person.
When the average school shooting lasts just 12 minutes, every second of response time saves lives.
How do police compare with armed citizens in this aspect?
Response Time: On-Site
Size: 81.7 Million Armed Citizens*
*Number of Armed Citizens calculated by multiplying 32% gun ownership rate x 255 Million Adults
Contact Your Representative
Make sure they are informed on the issues and know your opinion.
- 2021 National Firearms Survey. William English. July 16, 2021. https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3887145 (PDF)
- Crime Prevention Research Center. “UPDATED: Mass Public Shootings keep occurring in Gun-Free Zones: 94% of attacks since 1950” June 2018. https://crimeresearch.org/2018/06/more-misleading-information-from-bloombergs-everytown-for-gun-safety-on-guns-analysis-of-recent-mass-shootings/ (PDF)
- FBI. Crime in the United States. 2019. https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2019/crime-in-the-u.s.-2019/topic-pages/tables/expanded-homicide-data-table-8.xls (PDF)
- Gallup. “What Percentage of Americans own guns?” Nov 13 2020. https://news.gallup.com/poll/264932/percentage-americans-own-guns.aspx (PDF)
- Kids Count Data Center. “Total population by child and adult populations in the United States”. https://datacenter.kidscount.org/data/tables/99-total-population-by-child-and-adult-populations#detailed/1/any/false/1729,37,871,870,573,869,36,868,867,133/39,40,41/416,417 (PDF)
- Macrotrends. “U.S. Murder/Homicide Rate 1990-2022” https://www.macrotrends.net/countries/USA/united-states/murder-homicide-rate (PDF)
- Monga Bay. “Most Common Causes of Death Due to Injury in the US” https://danger.mongabay.com/injury_death.htm (PDF)
- National Research Council 2013. Priorities for Research to Reduce the Threat of Firearm-Related Violence. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/18319. (PDF)
- National Sheriffs Association. “EMBRACING TECHNOLOGY TO DECREASE LAW ENFORCEMENT RESPONSE TIME” February 28, 2016. https://www.sheriffs.org/content/embracing-technology-decrease-law-enforcement-response-time (PDF)
- NORC at the University of Chicago. “One in Five American Households Purchased a Gun During the Pandemic”. March 24, 2022. (PDF)
- NSSF. “NSSF RELEASES MOST RECENT FIREARM PRODUCTION FIGURES” Nov 2020. https://www.nssf.org/articles/nssf-releases-most-recent-firearm-production-figures/ (PDF)
- Small Arms Survey. “Global Firearms Holdings. ” March 29, 2020. https://www.smallarmssurvey.org/database/global-firearms-holdings (PDF)
- Social Medicine. “Gaps continue in firearm Surveillance: Evidence from a large U.S. city Bureau of Police”. https://www.socialmedicine.info/index.php/socialmedicine/article/view/852 (PDF)
- Statista. “Number of firearms manufactured in the U.S. from 1986 to 2019”. October 2021. https://www.statista.com/statistics/215395/number-of-total-firearms-manufactured-in-the-us/ (PDF)
- Statista. “Number of justifiable homicides by law enforcement officers and private citizens in the United States from 2007 to 2020” https://www.statista.com/statistics/251894/number-of-justifiable-homicides-in-the-us/ (PDF)
- University of Chicago Law School. David B. Mustard & John Lot. “Crime, Deterrence, and Right-to-Carry Concealed Handguns.” 1996. https://chicagounbound.uchicago.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1150&context=law_and_economics (PDF)
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Police and Detectives”. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/protective-service/police-and-detectives.htm (PDF)
- U.S. Department of Justice. “The Armed Criminal in America – A Survey of Incarcerated Felons.” July 1985. (PDF)
- U.S. Department of Justice. “Source and Use of Firearms Involved in Crimes: Survey of Prison Inmates, 2016”. January 2019. (PDF)