Home » Blog » How Many Guns are in the US? (Gun Ownership Statistics)

How Many Guns are in the US? (Gun Ownership Statistics)

Last updated: Jan 7, 2022

America has more guns than any other nation in the world – and that number continues to grow each year. After fighting for their independence, the founding fathers enshrined Americans’ right to firearms in the Second Amendment. This spirit of personal freedom and liberty has carried down through the years and is evident in America’s gun culture today.

Because of this Constitutionally guaranteed right, Americans own more guns per capita than any other country. So, how many Americans own guns? Let’s take a closer look.

How Many Gun Owners in America?

32% of Americans say they personally own a firearm according to the 2021 National Firearms Survey. This means that more than 81.4 million Americans own guns. This number only includes adults over 18. When you include family members who live in their same household as a gun owner, that number jumps to 41% of all Americans. Gallup has this figure estimated at 44% of households.

Most Americans Do (Or Might Someday) Own A Gun

The United States has a lot of guns, especially for a massive, peaceful, and prosperous country. In fact, about 1/3 of all the civilian guns in the world are in the hands of Americans.

The Pew Research Center has done extensive survey work on gun owners, gun ownership, and what American adults say and think about guns and gun control. America can be roughly divided into thirds with about a third of adults owning a gun. Of the two-thirds that don’t own a gun, 11% live in a household with a gun. Among that same group of Americans that don’t own a gun, half say they might personally own a gun in the future, and a third say they would never own a gun.

How Many Guns in America?

There are estimated to be over 400 million guns in the United States between police, the military, and American civilians. Over 393 Million (Over 98%) of those guns are in civilian hands, the equivalent of 120 firearms per 100 citizens. The average gun owning American has 5 firearms, while nearly 22% of gun owners only have a single firearm.

The United States is unique among the community of nations in many ways. America’s cultural and historic views, as well as its laws surrounding gun ownership, are surprising to many. By way of comparison, the nation that is second place on that list is the tiny British territory of the Falkland Islands with 62 firearms per 100 citizens.

Number of Guns Purchased Per Year

There were nearly 40 million guns purchased legally by Americans in 2020 alone according to FBI records. This was higher than any other year on record so far. 2019 was the second highest year with a little over 28 million firearms purchased. This means that firearms purchases jumped by nearly 40%. These numbers are calculated from the NICS Firearm Background Check program. These number might be lower than actual sales as various state laws and purchasing scenarios might not require a background check.

Embed this chart on your site (click code to copy):

<div style="text-align:center"><a href="https://americangunfacts.com/gun-ownership-statistics/" target="_blank"><img alt="Firearm Sales per Year Chart by AmericanGunFacts.com" src="https://americangunfacts.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/chart-firearm-sales-year.jpg" style="width:100%; height:auto; max-width:900px" /></a></div>

Gun Ownership by Firearm Type

Pistols are the most commonly owned firearm among gun owners – second is rifles and then shotguns last.

Gun TypePercent of Gun Owners Who Own Firearm Type
Handgun82.7%
Rifle68.8%
Shotgun58.4%

Gun Ownership By Gender

39% of men own a firearm, while 22% of women say the same. Overall, 45% of American men and 40% of American women live in a household with a gun.

Personally Own a FirearmHousehold Has a Firearm
Men39%45%
Women22%40%
Source: 2021 National Firearms Survey

42.2% of all gun owners are women. 57.8% of gun owners are men. According to the Wall Street Journal, previous surveys have shown that for decades, women made up only 10-20% of gun owners.

Digging a little deeper, we find that the demographics of gun owners is changing. According to the 2021 National Firearms Survey, since 2019, nearly half of first time gun buyers are women. In that time, 3.5 million American women became first time firearm owners.

After conducting over 19,000 interviews as part of the 2021 National Firearms Survey, researchers found that the COVID-19 pandemic, the #MeToo movement, and the unrest following the murder of George Floyd have all contributed to increased gun ownership among American women.

Race And Gun Ownership

Many people are surprised to learn that gun ownership in America cuts across racial lines.

Researchers note that gun buyers are increasingly diverse and are becoming gun owners for a variety of reasons including increasing insecurity caused by the pandemic, rising crime, and racial tensions.

Race/EthnicityPercent that Personally Own A Gun
White34.3%
Hispanic28.3%
Black25.4%
Asian19.4%
Source: 2021 National Firearms Survey

When you expand this statistic to include entire households, we find that 47% of White, 37% of Black, and 26% of Hispanic, and 20% of Asian households in America owns firearms.

According to the 2020 National Sports Shooting Foundation Firearms Retailer Survey:

During the first half of 2020, retailers noted that the overall makeup of their customers consisted of 55.8 percent white males, 16.6 percent white females, 9.3 percent Black males, 5.4 percent Black females, 6.9 percent Hispanic males, 2.2 percent Hispanic females, 3.1 percent Asian males and 0.7 percent Asian females. The highest overall firearm sales increase comes from Black men and women who show a 58.2 percent increase in purchases during the first six months of 2020 versus the same period last year.

The Geography Of Gun Ownership

According to Pew, there is one region of the country where citizens are far less likely to own a firearm. Ironically, it is the cradle of American democracy in New England and the northeast where only 27% of households own a gun. The rest of the country is statistically tied at around 45% of households.

According to World Population Review’s analysis of the 2021 Pew data, more than 60% of households in four states keep guns.

Gun Ownership by State

Highest Gun Owning States

  1. Montana: 66.3%
  2. Wyoming: 66.2%
  3. Alaska: 64.5%
  4. Idaho: 60.1%

Lowest Gun Owning States

  1. Massachusetts: 14.7%
  2. New Jersey: 14.7%
  3. Rhode Island: 14.8%
  4. Hawaii: 14.9%

In terms of the types of communities where gun ownership is more or less prevalent, a greater share of the population own firearms in rural communities at about 58% of households. This is followed by the suburbs at 41% of households and urban areas at 29% of households.

Embed this chart on your site (click code to copy):

<div style="text-align:center"><a href="https://americangunfacts.com/gun-ownership-statistics/" target="_blank"><img alt="Gun Ownership Rate per State Chart by AmericanGunFacts.com" src="https://americangunfacts.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/chart-gun-ownership-state.jpg" style="width:100%; height:auto; max-width:900px" /></a></div>

Political Party Demographics

Republicans are more likely to own a gun that a Democrat, and independents fall in between. But that doesn’t tell the whole story. For example, gun ownership tends to override partisan affiliation when it comes to firearm issues. In fact, Democrat gun owners are less likely to support an assault weapon ban or limit on magazine capacity by 20 percentage points!

Furthermore, there are many gun issues on which there is broad agreement between Republicans and Democrats including prohibiting guns from the mentally ill (Favor D 90%/ R 85%) and background checks on private sales (Favor D 92%/ R 70%).

Reasons for Gun Ownership

Beyond the data on gun ownership in America are the reasons that Americans choose to purchase and maintain firearms.

While the reasons to purchase a firearm vary widely, the most common is self-defense. Over 2/3rds of gun owners list this as the first reason that they personally own a gun.

Hunting, sports shooting, collecting, and required for a job round out the list.

While rural gun owners are more likely to hunt or collect guns as a hobby, urban and suburban gun owners are more likely to list personal protection as their primary concern.

Conclusion

The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution significantly limits the federal government’s ability to regulate guns in the United States. The Tenth Amendment, which reserves powers not granted to the federal government to the state governments, means that gun rules such as where and when you can carry in public, who can purchase guns, and what types of guns and features are legal for purchase are left to the States.

As a result, gun cultures and statistics can vary widely across America’s many states and territories.

Contact Your Representative

Make sure they are informed on the issues and know your opinion.

26 thoughts on “How Many Guns are in the US? (Gun Ownership Statistics)”

  1. The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution PROHIBITS the federal OR STATE government’s ability to regulate guns in the United States.

    2
    Reply
    • I couldn’t agree more, Barry!

      The article completely misrepresents the tenth amendment and the powers delegated to the states in that it completely ignores the fact that the second amendment prohibits federal or state laws infringing upon the right to keep and bear arms.

      Second Amendment:
      A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

      Tenth Amendment:
      The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

      The second amendment begins by explaining the reasoning behind the inclusion of the right to bear arms, but it is not a limiting framework of what and how arms are to be bore.

      If it were intended that states would have the ability to restrict the second amendment, it would have stated so clearly. In understanding the legal difference between the terms may and shall, the reader is to understand that NOTHING, be it federal or state, is to infringe upon the stated right.

      Reply
  2. I’m watching the news of the shooting in Uvalde TX, today, 5/24/22. There are too many guns in this country. They are too easy to get, even for unstable, immature people. Routine mass shootings don’t happen in any other country. The Constitution should be a living document. The Founders never meant for mentally ill people or terrorists to be able to get guns. How long will we do nothing? How many have to die before we fix this?

    5
    Reply
    • Gail, all the mass shooters in 2022 have had 1 thing in common other than a weapon… they literally went online beforehand and discussed their plans. If I’m not mistaken the last 5 shooters had even had conversations with the FBI for previous threats.

      Law abiding citizens are not the ones that need to take this heat. It is our Federal Government. The ones in charge of upholding laws. Why add more when they don’t enforce what we have in place? 5 shooters spent from 30 mins to a day and a half discussing their plans in detail yet FBI, ATF. NSA anybody at the DOJ was busy doing what? Covering Hunter’s laptop? Silencing their online political opposition? Oh my bad… focusing on Disinformation Governance Board to monitor Covid data…

      Come on. Why is it we blame each other when THEY ARE THE ONES DROPPING THE BALL AND THEYRE GETTING WORSE.

      These shootings absolutely could’ve been prevented the way my conservative videos get taken down consistently. I’m not a bully. I don’t encourage hate speech and everything I say, I can source it from verifiable sources. Where’s the same energy for the ones plotting and planning every detail online to the very last second?

      3
      Reply
    • I mean. If there are 400 million guns..
      326.69 million people.
      81.4 million people with guns.
      20 million of these 400 million are.. I’ve gotten mixed results. Assault style, or AR platforms (Idk where Ak’s fall in this statistc, or you know, Galil, Vesper, ARs calibered in .22 or 9mm)

      But. est 70, from mass shootings this year , 0.000000214 Of the total population. (Give or take a zero)
      From something %40 of the population owns.

      3,385,000 people died in the U.S. Last year.
      40,000 from firearm deaths (Anything related from accidental, to self defense killings, to suicide)
      649 From mass shootings
      Mass shootings victims : 3200 ish.
      around 2500 either wounded or injured (Could literally be someone tripping over a trashcan to being shot)

      5,000 people died from aids.
      41000 from car accidents
      37000 from fall deaths.
      668,000 from HEART DISEASE..
      Hmm… Mcdonalds?

      My point.
      Guns don’t create statistics.

      People create statistics about guns.
      Be sure you’re informed.

      Not all life is important. Especially if you’re anti- overturning of roe v wade.

      Reply
      • TT, We’ll said! Mass shootings and the violence in our country is shameful and it wasn’t always this way. When I was a child 60 years ago there was virtually no gun control and people where not shooting up schools, parades, movie theaters, malls etc. Unfortunately a great majority of our nation has forgotten the principles of being a good neighbor. We have diminished the value of family and life. Now as for the gun laws and the restriction Gail was eluding to. Illegal drugs have never been legal and we have an entire agency the DEA dedicated to stop drug trafficking. Yet we are consuming more illegal drugs and experiencing the greatest overdose deaths in recent history (if not the largest we have seen). Proof, laws only apply to Law Abiding Citizens. Criminals do not adhere to laws or they would not be criminals. My cousin worked crash in LA back in the early 80’s. Most of the gangbangers had automatic uzi’s a weapon that has always been illegal in this country. If they can bring drugs into our country they will bring illegal weapons too. Historically more laws have created most of the organized crime we have known dating back to prohibition that made the Mafia an organization.

        If not mistaken all these mass shooters were avid video gamers. Why don’t we start eliminating the prolific murderous rampage in these games, attack Hollywood for their constant use of glorifying senseless gun violence in most movies and shut down the pornography industry that portrays woman as sexual animals that has increased rape in our nation. We know why they wont because all those industries are enormous Dem supporters. These Hollywood hypocrites talk about gun control yet they make billions glorifying senseless gun violence on TV. The media pumps out what ever narrative they choose to influence their agenda. We do need to make sure guns are in the proper hands of stable laws abiding citizens to hunt and to protect their homes and family. Disarming the entire nation is ridiculous proposal and will only lead to softer targets for these animals and create another black market crime wave unintentionally designed but the government.

        Reply
    • The reason mass shootings occur is the existence of advertised “gun-free areas”, where the crazies know they can kill as many helpless people as possible until someone shows up with a gun to stop them, then they often commit suicide! Schools and churches are the common targets. These places should have a pistol safely stored on site with people trained in gun handling safety, or be protected by concealed carry with similar training, and the site should advertise to be a “gun-protected area”…and the crazies will not go there!
      The police must take a lot of the blame for the Uvalde school mass murder…they were there when the shooter showed up with an obvious gun, only prevented him from entering the front door but allowed him to enter the rear door, and waited an hour while the shooting went on before finally entering to stop it! Totally wrong!

      Reply
    • “Routine mass shootings don’t happen in any other country.”

      This is factually incorrect. Look up the paper “Comparing the Global Rate of Mass Public Shootings to the US’s Rate and Comparing Their Changes over Time” by John R. Lott Jr from August 11, 2020. Between the years 1998 and 2015 there were 2470 shootings in the world, 53 of which happened in the US — making the US account for 2.2% of the world’s mass shootings. This put the US in 66th place world-wide for the number of shooting attacks per capita (per 100,000 people). Over 26,000 people were killed in those shootings world-wide, the US death count was 394 or 1.5% of all death’s world-wide (making the average US death toll per shooting less than the average world-wide). The worst incidents of mass shootings have actually been in south Asia, Europe and Africa — not the US.

      You can see a video that goes over these statistics here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H06v5XrrLdw

      Basically, the liberal legacy news media in the US and the Democratic party are using “the US is the only (or primary) place for mass shootings” as a political talking point to advance their agenda. That is, actually, a provably false statement.

      Reply
  3. Gail you are right I’m watching this sad news as well . American’s the most irresponsible gun owners in the world . Our fake politicians are to afraid to stand up to the gun lobby. If the assassination of our precious innocent children want change ther minds then nothing will .

    1
    Reply
    • Vote them out. Each anerican voter has the ability to cast their vote for congresspersons who support gun control. Use your vote as your voice.

      Reply
    • Really? There are over 450 million guns in this country that are owned by up to 100 million gun owners. If Americans were that irresponsible, the population would be only half of what it is now. Since you ladies are talking about scary looking rifles, consider this. More people are killed by beatings with fists, feet and blunt objects like hammers than all rifles combined, including the scary looking ones. What would propose to do about that, chop off everyone’s hands and feet and take away baseball bats and hammers?

      On the other hand, there were over 600,000 lives lost to abortions. That figure dwarves gun deaths. How bout you address the irresponsible leg spreading that women do which leads to the more deaths than guns, drugs and automobile accidents combined.

      Reply
  4. Hi Gail, Question: how would “the Authorities” have determined if this latest shooter was “unstable, immature…”? After all he was eligible to vote, drive and own a car, have a job, go to University, etc. So how should it be done? If he IS found to be such, should he be allowed to do those other things? You see it becomes quite complex.

    2
    Reply
    • This 18 year old can’t legally buy beer or alcohol but he can buy an AR and a lot of ammo in TX? Does that sound logical to you??

      Reply
      • Now ask yourself if you support 18 year olds signing up for the military and fighting for the interests of our “representatives”. They are good enough to eat a bullet for Uncle Sam but not good enough to exercise their constitutional rights?

        Reply
        • Great talking point Greg. Only one major flaw in your statement. Uncle Sam trains those 18 year olds. They have to carry their weapon for weeks without bullets. Only until they pass a battery of tests can they load their weapon. In the US a person on their 18th birthday and go in and buy two AR 15 and hundreds of rounds, and then go and shoot up a school. Not exactly the same thing is it Greg?

          Reply
  5. It’s too late now to take guns away from people. There are already way too many and most states will still have them easily accessible for the foreseeable future. What worked for Australia years ago will never work here. We need to focus on helping people that feel like outcasts, they are usually the ones doing the shootings.

    2
    Reply
    • In all your examples often there are regulations. Problem is age, sure you can go to war but under regulations. Drive&own vehicle your regulated. A lot of jobs are regulated same for Universities. Regulations don’t end your rights but protect them. Last we have gotten into a cultural of hate, which I believe is mental illness. You might not test psycho but your ideology could be considered an endangerment to the welfare of society. You and I are the problem, we choose our consequences by how we are influenced. Common sense is put aside too often and our babies and innocent citizens pays for our negligence. Oh, I believe in ownership, if it is responsible possession. Checkout what marines regulate their troops. Grow ups with accountability that don’t worry about control as much as safety.

      Reply
    • Hi Dennis, I am replying to your question to Gail regarding how the “authorities” would determine who was too “unstable or immature” to own a gun. First, the constitution gives states broad discretion in setting gun laws, so let’s say the state governments are the authorities making these determinations. It is not really as complicated as you seem to think. First owning and operating a car is not the same as owning a gun, however, all states require cars to be registered and operators to be licensed, Furthermore, those licenses can be revoked for a number of reasons, e.g., too many moving violations, driving under the influence, being too compromised by mental illness, such as dementia, etc. With regard to firearms, the vast majority of mass shootings are committed by young men, under the age of 21, so I would suggest placing an age limit on gun ownership. Aside from that, there is a high correlation of gun homicides and domestic abuse, so it seems quite reasonable to make it illegal for those convicted of domestic abuse to own firearms, much as it is illegal for those convicted of felonies to own or be in possession of a firearm, and so on.

      Reply
  6. Everybody needs to take a deep breath!
    I have responded to several mass causality incidents in my career and the nightmare never ends.

    Also, I have personally lost a family member who was murdered by a gun and the fault was never perceived to be the “guns fault” by me or anyone in my family.

    “Gun-Free Zones” scream “soft target with little or zero resistance” too sick people that are looking to carry out an act of evil or violence.

    This is yet another tragedy on so many levels.

    You all fell right into the trap and you’re all allowing a tragedy to be politicized and used by the media to divide, polarize and distract us from what’s happening to this country and pit us against each other(with the division the politicians win). Everything is about political power. “Gun Control” or more laws is not a solution and here’s why soft-on-crime prosecutors don’t (or won’t) enforce the current laws now. I don’t just mean gun laws either. There are no perceived consequences to any law-breaking in today’s society. Enforcement of so many laws is so watered down these days they are meaningless to people that are mentally sick or evil, to begin with. Therefore the law-abiding citizens would be (are) the only people affected by more laws, restrictions, or regulations and that’s precisely why any attempts to infringe upon a Constitutionally protected right is (and always) will be fought to the end. If you give up on your rights do you think political infringement will stop at the 2nd amendment??? There is one person ultimately responsible for what happened and that’s the sick (because sane people don’t kill their Grandmothers and children) person that did it.
    Do we need to do better? Hell YES
    Can we do better? I would hope so.
    Are we ever going to agree on what that looks like? That’s highly unlikely.

    But any corrective actions need to be lawful. Because if not, we have done nothing. So let’s start with something that’s not Constitutionally protected. And if you’re not a fan of the Constitution you can try any other country to see if that is a better fit for you and your family.

    Texas is already saying that they are lacking mental health care facilities, professionals & programs and that’s true nationwide.

    Here are some things to think about.

    Elections have consequences and we messed up the last one.

    The 2nd Amendment has NOTHING to do with deer hunting like the POTUS continually says over and over. Think about who was fighting when it was drafted, and it was SO important that it was literally the second thing that came up after they said “we can say whatever we want”

    40 BILLION DOLLARS could go a long way anywhere, but why not here instead of in Ukraine? (dare I say America first)
    53 MILLION people in the US have a mental health issues. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/mental-illness

    There are over 400 million guns in the US. 3 million crimes annually are prevented by guns. Even if you could take away all of the legal guns (criminals won’t be turning theirs in). Do you want these 9,000 people per DAY to not be able to protect themselves? Guns Prevent Thousands of Crimes Every Day, Research Shows – Foundation for Economic Education

    We need to unite, treat the sick, incarcerate the criminals, follow the laws and protect our Rights and our Country.
    I pray that all of us find peace during this tragedy.

    2
    Reply
  7. Gail, yes, the constitution can be amended. But there is a prescribed method for that and it isn’t by exec order or activist judges. Otherwise, until amended, things like 2nd amendment are absolute. And, Helen, suggesting that politicians would rather bow to any lobby while watching kids die is a ridiculous statement that doesn’t promote problem-solving. That is just playing partisan politics. We can pass more laws, but murder is already against the law. Only law-abiding citizens follow the law. Crazed murderers do not. And, it is not common sense to think that you can wave a magic wand and take over 390 million guns out of existence. And, every time a politician hints at pursuing gun bans, sales of guns spike per above. States, like Montana and Wyoming, with highest per capita gun ownership don’t have these horrific mass killings. Perhaps we should be looking at what has changed in society that has caused kids to feel left out – loners without hope or love of life. Perhaps letting politicians divide us for political purposes is a contributing factor. Perhaps countless hours of violent video games is a contributing factor. Looking at these things would be true “root cause” problem-solving.

    1
    Reply
  8. I couldn’t agree more, Barry!

    The article completely misrepresents the tenth amendment and the powers delegated to the states in that it completely ignores the fact that the second amendment prohibits federal or state laws infringing upon the right to keep and bear arms.

    Second Amendment:
    A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

    Tenth Amendment:
    The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

    The second amendment begins by explaining the reasoning behind the inclusion of the right to bear arms, but it is not a limiting framework of what and how arms are to be bore.

    If it were intended that states would have the ability to restrict the second amendment, it would have stated so clearly. In understanding the legal difference between the terms may and shall, the reader is to understand that NOTHING, be it federal or state, is to infringe upon the stated right.

    Reply
  9. Gun-related deaths are the leading cause of death in children as of 2020. The automobile industry improved safety measures and the gun industry didn’t progress.
    Billions of dollars pour into gun-related businesses every year. It is not only the gun manufacturers but many businesses including businesses that make money teaching those of us on the front lines i.e. schools, how to protect the young children under our care. Someone mentioned Ukraine dollars. Guess what, businesses across America profit from the weaponry that is being sent there. I’m tired of politicians and lay people thinking that most of us are too stupid to see through the hypocrisy of their arguments. Most people support changing gun laws. Grow some balls! Protect our children. Protect our elderly. God knows the folks with the guns and the armor that are actually trained can’t do it! Uvalde is not the first example of this.
    In my active shooting training, I was taught to run first. If you can’t run, barricade the door, or start throwing whatever you can grab at the shooter. I was taught how to fill bullet holes in children (my team practiced on child-size dummies) with anything from socks to shirts, to your hand. The holes in the dummies were deep and replicated what we might expect! Stop the bleed. Seconds count. I was taught the more I hear what to do, the quicker I’ll react when something happens. How disgusting that while teaching the ABC’s and 2+2 I also need to think about filling bullet holes. The survivors of Uvalde told us today that all of this is for naught against a murderer with a powerful weapon.
    Over the past five years, an average of 7,957 children are shot each year in the US. Where are the rights of the children? I agree the guns that are currently in circulation will most likely remain so. However, we can do something about future sales. An 18 year cannot buy alcohol or smoke a cigarette. If he/she wants a gun go join the armed forces where they can be properly trained otherwise there’s no need for a gun. He/she can wait until 21 years old. States cannot handle this issue alone. Since the constitution was written we now have super highways and fast cars. Guns can travel as fast as a perpetrator needs them to travel.
    Yes, we can change. Learning and changing your mind as a result of new information is a sign of intelligence. We can get over the gun fetish epidemic plaguing the USA and create a safer country for all.

    Reply
  10. A well regulated malitia is the national guard, every state has their own and should of never been sent out of the country. Americans need to look into how much money their mutual funds and 401k plans are invested in manufacturing and marketing weapons and ammo. We have over 400 million guns on the street that we know of and that does not count the millions of un-registered ones. Get Smart. Vote Smart. Thnk u Rick

    Reply

Leave a Comment

Send this to a friend