The debate over gun ownership vs. gun violence continues in the US. With 52% of Americans backing both, the topic remains at odds.

As gun sales rose to over 22 million in 2020, the discourse on self-defense and its consequences intensified. Moreover, firearm-related crimes are increasing.

Which side are you on? In this article, you’ll learn vital statistics on firearm sales, crimes, and public safety. Keep reading to gain valuable insights!

Editor's Choice

  • The United States manufactured around 13.8 million firearms.
  • The firearms and ammunition industries contributed $80.70 billion to total economic activity in the US. 
  • The U.S. was the biggest firearms exporter, with a share of 38.6%.
  • India was the largest importer (11% of guns) between 2018 and 2022.
  • With a rate of 120.2 per 100, the US has the most civilian gun owners.
  • The global average gun death rate is 2.99 per 100,000 people.
  • El Salvador tops the list of countries with the highest gun death rate.
  • Gun violence is a major issue for 48% of Americans.
  • 48,830 people died from gun-related injuries in the US. 
  • 190 mass shootings have been recorded so far this year in the US. 

How Many Firearms Are Sold?

In 2022 alone, the total number of firearms sold in the United States was 16.2 million. It's a big drop from 2021's 18.5 million, indicating a change in consumer behavior and market trends. 

Despite the decrease, the number of guns sold remains substantial. Gun ownership is a constitutional right linked to gun violence and crime. 

Should we all own guns, enforce stricter laws, or ban them altogether? To answer this question, look at demographics, firearm sales, and violence statistics.

Gun Sales Statistics

Gun purchases surged by an estimated 1.9 million during the COVID-19 pandemic in the US. It was found that post-pandemic gun buyers were more radical politically and pondered suicide or violence.

This suggests that those who bought firearms during the pandemic are likelier to commit violent crimes. Here are some additional recent statistics on firearm purchases in the US:

1. The United States manufactured and produced around 13.8 million firearms.

(Statistica, The Trace) 

57.30% of the 13.8 million firearms manufactured in 2021 were handguns. The pistol type was the most produced (48.9%) that year. 

In 2020, the country manufactured 11 million guns, imported 6.8 million, and exported 529,138 guns. Gun production has surged since the early 2000s, and imports and exports have been stable. 

2. Approximately 1 billion firearms are in circulation globally.

(Small Arms Survey)

One billion firearms were circulated worldwide in 2017, with 85% owned by civilians. Civilian firearm ownership increased from 650 million in 2006 to 857 million in 2017.

Illicit commerce, black market transactions, and unregistered firearms make it tricky to estimate global gun sales. These statistics, however, reveal the widespread presence of firearms globally.

3. Sixty million firearm purchases happened during the pandemic. 

(The Hill)

One out of every five American households bought a gun during the pandemic. Between 2020 and 2022, there were approximately 60 million gun purchases. Social unrest, personal safety worries, and pandemic uncertainty cause this rise.

4. Two American gun companies' sales dropped to $388.1 million.

(The Reload)

Ruger's sales dropped to $139.4 million in a quarter compared to the past two years of the same quarter. Smith and Wesson also experienced a decline from $230.5 million in 2021 to $121 million in 2022. 

5. The firearms and ammunition industries contributed $80.70 billion to total economic activity in the US.


The firearms and ammunition industries contributed to the whole economy of the country. It was responsible for an additional $80.70 billion in total economic activity in the country in 2022. 

6. The US had 4.2 million new gun owners.

(NSSF, The Guardian)

The number of new gun owners in the US totaled 4.2 million in 2022. Between 2020 and 2021, gun purchases accelerated, with 5 million people becoming new gun owners, compared to 2.4 million in 2019. 

7. NICS ran 2,680,074 background checks on April 23, 2023. 


This system checks the backgrounds of people who want to buy firearms, as the law requires. When purchasing a gun, the seller (a Federal Firearms Licensee) requests a background check from NICS.

The customer cannot buy guns if the result discloses a criminal record. Since 1998, NICS has conducted 300 million background checks, denying 1.5 million purchases. 

8. The firearms and ammunition industries employed 172,697 people across the US.


The ammunition and firearms industries employed 172,697 people nationwide. Texas benefited with 32,130 jobs, followed by California with 30,133 jobs. This statistic highlights the industry's significant role in job creation nationwide. 

9. The U.S. was the biggest firearms exporter, with a share of 38.6%.

(Statistica, The GUardian)

The U.S. remains the world's largest arms exporter. Its exports grew by 14% in 2013–2017 and trended upward in 2018–2021. In 2021, it had a 38.6% share of global exports, with France (10.7%) and Russia (18.6%) following. 

10. India was the largest importer (11% of guns) between 2018 and 2022.


Between 2019 and 2022, India topped the list of major arms importers, accounting for 11% of the global market. Saudi Arabia (9.6%) and Qatar (6.4%) were the next two countries in line. 

11. Smith & Wesson is the largest pistol producer in the US.


Smith & Wesson was the largest pistol and revolver manufacturer in the US. In 2020, the company's gun sales doubled to over $1 billion. The company attributed the increase in gun sales to industry-wide demand during the pandemic. 

12. Handguns accounted for 57% of domestic firearm manufacturing in 2021.

(The Trace Org)

Handguns accounted for 57% of firearm production in 2021, with roughly 8 million units manufactured in the US. On the other hand, long guns only accounted for 33% of production, with less than 2 million units manufactured. The preference for handguns is clear among gun manufacturers and consumers. 

13. More than half of the dealers sold guns without proper background checks in the US.


Half of the 2000 dealer inspections between 2015 and 2017 found firearm sales without background checks. The scary part was that out of 2,000 cases of violations, only 3% resulted in license revocation. 

14. The civilian firearms holdings globally showed the US topping the list. 

(Small Arms Survey)

According to a 2018 survey, civilians in the US owned the most firearms. Civilians held a reported total of 393 million guns.

The civilian firearms holdings for the top 5 countries were: 


Number of Civilian Firearms Holdings 

United States 








Russian Federation 


15. Only 3 countries protect the right to own firearms in their institutions.

(Business Insider)

Only three countries have embodied in their constitutions the right to own firearms. These are Guatemala, Mexico, and the United States. This constitutional provision has affected gun sales in these countries, particularly in the US.

Firearm Sales Demographics Statistics

Understanding firearm sales demographics can reveal gun ownership patterns. Age, gender, race, and location have been included to understand who purchases firearms and why. Such demographic data can reveal gun demand, motivations, and public safety. 

16. With a rate of 120.2 per 100, the US has the most civilian gun owners.

(US News)

In 2017, the US held the highest civilian gun ownership rate at 120.2 per 100 people, more than twice the global average. It made the US the only country with more civilian handguns than citizens. Yemen (52.8), Montenegro (38.1), Serbia (38.1), and Uruguay (34.7) followed the US.

17. Illinois had the most firearm background checks in 2022.


Illinois topped the list of states with the highest number of background checks done by NICS for 2022. The FBI also carried out around 4.47 million background checks on firearms.

Kentucky closely followed Illinois, with about 4.0 million firearm background checks. The bottom two for this background check were Hawaii and District Colombia, with 18,842 and 16,102, respectively.  

18. Texas has the most registered guns, at 588,696. 

(World Population)

Due to the size of Texas' population, its gun ownership rate was 21 per 1,000 residents. Rhode Island and New York have the lowest gun ownership rates, at 3 per 1,000 residents. 

Wyoming has the highest registered gun rate per capita, at 229 per 1,000 residents (total registered guns: 132,806). The states with the most registered guns per capita are:


Registered Guns per 1,000 Residents



New Hampshire


New Mexico 






19. About 45% of American households own at least one firearm.


It has remained relatively steady since 1972, hovering between 37% and 47%. Firearms have been part of American culture longer than any other country.

However, even though many citizens of the country were proud gun owners, many movements opposed the freedom afforded to those possessing deadly weapons.  

20. Nearly half of the gun owners said the main reason for owning or buying a gun was for protection. 

(Pew Research Center)

The top reason Americans buy guns is for protection. Nearly half (48%) of gun owners buy guns for this reason, 32% buy guns primarily for hunting, and only a few cite other reasons. 

21. Gun ownership was higher among 35–54-year-olds.


Gun ownership is also more common among men than women; white men are particularly avid gun owners. Of the many gun owners, 67% say there were guns in their household growing up. 

22. 44% of Republicans own firearms in the United States.

(Pew Research Center)

Gun ownership in the US was far more common (50%) among Republicans than Democrats (18%), according to research in 2017. 

Gun Violence Statistics

The widespread availability of guns has been a persistent problem globally. Mass shootings, homicides, suicides, and accidental deaths in the US escalated gun violence. 

The relationship between gun violence and gun sales is hotly debated. Some argue that more guns lead to more violence, while others suggest the opposite. So far, these are the most notable gun violence statistics worldwide and in the US:

23. The global average gun death rate is 2.99 per 100,000 people.

(Wise Voter)

This figure includes all gun-related fatalities, including homicides, suicides, and accidental deaths. The overall average of global gun deaths is 920 per year.

Suicides by firearms account for 70 deaths per 100,000 people. Accidental deaths by firearms account for 49 deaths per 100,000 people.

24. El Salvador tops the list of countries with the highest gun death rate. 

(Wise Voter)

El Salvador has the highest gun death rate at 35.5 per 100,000, resulting in 2,301 deaths. Venezuela and Guatemala follow with rates of 32.75 and 28.23, respectively.

The ten countries with the highest gun death rates are:


Death Rate

El Salvador












Puerto Rico


The Bahamas


United States Virgin Islands




25. Licensed dealers have approximately 18,700 firearms stolen from them each year.

(Rochester Beacon)

The ATF reported that licensed firearms dealers in the US experience approximately 18,700 firearm thefts a year. From 2016 to 2020, New York firearms dealers reported 1,305 stolen or lost guns, significantly increasing illegal arms on the streets.

26. Around 4,751 pistols were reported stolen or lost in the US. 


In 2021, pistols accounted for the most lost or stolen firearms in the US. The number of lost or stolen pistols was 4,751, followed by riffles (2,132), receivers and frames (1,421), shotguns (1,011), and revolvers (691). 

27. 600,000 firearms were trafficked in the US. 


An estimated 600,000 guns were trafficked between 2010 and 2020 in the US. These crime guns did not originate in the state where they were found.

28. The US ranked 8th out of 64 high-income countries for homicides by firearm. 

(Health Data)

Among 64 high-income countries, the US stands out for its high levels of gun violence in 2021. Firearms-related violence tends to be frequent in countries where people can easily access guns. 

29. The US ranked 25th in gun fatality rates. 

(US News)

In 2019, the US ranked 20th highest for gun deaths, with a rate of 11.3 deaths per 100,000 people. The US ranked fourth among the 40 largest countries, behind Colombia, Brazil, and Mexico, for the highest gun fatality rate.

30. Gun violence in their country is a major issue for 48% of Americans.

(Pew Research Center)

Followed by 24% of respondents who rated gun violence as a moderately big problem, and 22% see it as a small problem. Only 6% of people do not find gun violence bothersome.

(Pew Research Center)

In 2021, gun-related injuries resulted in 48,830 deaths in the United States. It includes deaths from gun murders, gun suicides, accidental shootings, incidents involving law enforcement, and undetermined circumstances.

(Pew Research Center)

The gun suicide rate was 7.5 per 100,000, almost similar to the historical high of 7.7 in 1977. In 2021, suicides accounted for 54% of gun-related deaths in the US. Gun suicides rose by 10% during the pandemic.

(Pew Research Center)

In 2021, gun-related murders in the US were 6.7 incidents per 100,000 people. It remained below its peak of 7.2 in 1974. 

34. There have been 190 recorded mass shootings in Q1-Q3 of 2023.

(ABC News)

The Gun Violence Archive recorded 647 mass shootings in 2022 and 690 in 2021. Active shooter incidents also increased by 52.5%.

"Mass shooting" is an incident where 4 to 5 people or more were shot or killed. It has now sparked calls for gun reform.

35. The Gun Violence Archive recorded 647 mass shootings in 2022 and 690 in 2021.

(Pew Research Center)

Active-shooter incidents have also become more common in the country. From 40 cases in 2020, it increased to 61 in 2021. The FBI defines an "active shooter" as one or more people shooting or attempting to kill others in a populated location. 

36. 3,597 children died of gunfire in the US. 

(NY Times)

A total of 3,597 children died of gunfire in the US in 2021. Nearly 64% of this was due to homicides. Suicides increased as well, accounting for 30% of child gun deaths.


Mississippi ranked first with the highest gun-related death rate for 2021 at 33.9 incidents per 100,000 residents. The two other states with high gun-related death rates were: 

  • Louisiana: 29.1
  • New Mexico: 27.9

The bottom two were: 

  • Hawaii: 4.8
  • Massachusetts: 3.4 

Gun violence is lower in states with strict gun control. States with stronger firearms legislation have fewer gun deaths. Mississippi has the weakest gun laws, scoring only 3 points out of 100. 

38. 4.6 million kids live in homes with loaded, unlocked guns.

(Healthy Children)

In the US, 4.6 million children live in homes with loaded and unlocked firearms. This scary statistic endangers children with the possibility of being victims of gun accidents. 

(The Commonwealth Fund, Every Town Research)

It is the least publicized side of gun violence in the country's health system. In 2020, deaths from firearms injuries were $240 million, with an average of $6,400 per patient. 

Gun violence in the US resulted in an estimated economic cost of $557 billion. It includes the immediate, following, and quality-of-life expenses of gun violence. 

The Bottom Line

The US has the highest civilian gun ownership rate globally, with 120.2 guns per 100 residents. It led to a massive firearms industry with record sales in 2020. Other countries also contribute to the global firearms market. 

The industry will continue to grow despite safety concerns. Still, responsible gun ownership and comprehensive gun control policies are crucial for public safety and reducing preventable firearm-related deaths.