Gun ownership is the act of owning a gun. In 2018, Small Arms Survey reported that there are over one billion small arms distributed globally, of which 857 million (about 85 percent) are in civilian hands. U.S. civilians alone account for 393 million (about 46 percent) of the worldwide total of civilian held firearms. This amounts to "120.5 firearms for every 100 residents."
The worlds armed forces control about 133 million (about 13 percent) of the global total of small arms, of which over 43 percent belonging to two countries the Russian Federation (30.3 million) and China (27.5 million). Law enforcement agencies control about 23 million (about 2 percent) of the global total of small arms.
Global distribution of civilian-held firearms
|World Wide Civilian Firearms Holdings, 2017|
|Countries & Territories||Estimate of firearms in civilian possession||Population 2017||Estimate of civilian firearms per 100 persons|
|Antigua and Barbuda||5,000||94,000||5.4|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||1,185,000||3,793,000||31.2|
|Cabo Verde (Cape Verde)||31,000||533,000||5.7|
|Central African Republic||94,000||5,099,000||1.8|
|China, Macao SAR||22,000||606,000||3.6|
|Congo, Republic of||119,000||4,866,000||2.4|
|Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast)||1,049,000||23,816,000||4.4|
|Cyprus, Rep. of||285,000||839,000||34.0|
|Democratic Republic of Congo||946,000||82,243,000||1.2|
|England and Wales||2,731,000||58,877,000||4.6|
|Hong Kong SAR, China||265,000||7,402,000||3.6|
|Iran, Islamic Republic of||5,890,000||80,946,000||7.3|
|Korea, DPR (North)||76,000||25,405,000||0.3|
|Korea, Republic of (South)||79,000||50,705,000||0.2|
|Lao, People's Democratic Republic||215,000||7,038,000||3.0|
|Macedonia, Former Yugoslav Republic of||621,000||2,083,000||29.8|
|Micronesia, Fed. Sts.||700||106,000||0.7|
|Moldova, Republic of||121,000||4,055,000||3.0|
|Northern Mariana Islands||1,000||56,000||2.6|
|Papua New Guinea||79,000||7,934,000||1.0|
|Saint Kitts and Nevis||2,000||57,000||3.4|
|Saint Martin (France)||3,000||32,000||8.5|
|Saint Vincent and the Grenadines||4,000||110,000||3.4|
|São Tomé and Principe||7,000||198,000||3.4|
|Sint Maarten (Netherlands)||2,000||40,000||4.2|
|Syrian Arab Republic||1,547,000||18,907,000||8.2|
|Taiwan (Rep. of China)||10,000||23,405,000||0.0|
|Tanzania, United Republic of Africa||427,000||56,878,000||0.8|
|Timor-Leste (East Timor)||3,000||1,237,000||0.3|
|Trinidad and Tobago||43,000||1,369,000||3.2|
|Turks and Caicos Islands||1,000||35,000||3.3|
|United Arab Emirates||1,569,000||9,398,000||16.7|
Combined numbers for (England and Wales), (Northern Ireland) & (Scotland).
|United States of America||393,347,000||326,474,000||120.5|
|Virgin Islands (U.K.)||300||31,000||0.8|
|Virgin Islands (U.S.)||18,000||107,000||16.6|
American gun ownership
"Americans made up 4 percent of the world's population but owned about 46 percent of the entire global stock of 857 million civilian firearms." U.S civilians own 393 million guns. That is 3 times as many guns as the armed forces of the Russian Federation (30.3 million), China (27.5 million), North Korea (8.4 million), Ukraine (6.6 million), United States (4.5 million), India (3.9 million), Vietnam (3.8 million), Iran (3.3 million), South Korea (2.7 million), Pakistan (2.3 million), and all the other countries (39.7 million) combined. American civilians own more guns "than those held by civilians in the other top 25 countries combined."
"American civilians own nearly 100 times as many firearms as the U.S. military and nearly 400 times as many as law enforcement." Americans bought more than 2 million guns in May, 2018, alone. That is more than twice as many guns, as possessed by every law enforcement agency in the United States put together. In April and May of 2018, U.S. civilians bought 4.7 million guns, that's more than all the firearms stockpiled by the United States military. In 2017, Americans bought 25.2 million guns, that's 2.5 million more guns than possessed by every law enforcement agency in the world put together. Between 2012 and 2017, U.S. civilians bought 135 million guns, that's 2 million more guns than the combined stockpile of all the world's armed forces.
Association with rates of violence
Some studies suggest that higher rates of gun ownership are associated with higher homicide rates, although Gary Kleck argues that the highest-quality studies show that gun ownership does not increase homicide rates. Higher rates of gun ownership are also associated with higher suicide rates and higher accidental gun death rates. The availability of illegal guns, but not that of legal guns, is associated with higher rates of violent crime. Studies have shown that 36.3% of people had access to a gun and 5% carried the gun with them. However 7.3% stored their guns in an unsafe place. Certain people have blamed individuals with mental disorders for being dangerous and violent with the use of guns. Nonetheless, other studies have been conducted and show that 34.1% have access to guns. 4.8% carry a gun with them and 6.2% store the gun in an unsafe manner. The statistics show that gun ownership is significantly high in both sets of individuals, however, none of the figures show people with a mental illness are as dangerous with guns than people with perfect mental health. An international study by UNICRI researchers from 2001 examined the link between household gun ownership and overall homicide, overall suicide, as well as gun homicide and gun suicide rates amongst 21 countries. Significant correlations between household gun ownership and rates of gun suicides for both genders, and gun homicide rates involving female victims were found. There were no significant correlations detected for total homicide and suicide rates, as well as gun homicide rates involving male victims. This study has been criticized for combining high-income countries (like the United States) with middle-income countries (like Estonia); if middle-income countries are excluded from the analysis, a strong relationship emerges between gun ownership and homicide. However the Hemenway study has been criticized in response as well. When removing the United States as an outlier and using the superior proxy of gun ownership in the study (percentage of firearm suicides over all suicides), the relationship ceases to be significant. The association between gun ownership and homicide rates across nations is dependent on the inclusion of the U.S. A study by the Flemish Peace Institute looking at firearms ownership amongst European nations and associated homicide, suicide, gun homicide, and gun suicide found no significant correlation with gun ownership by European nations and total homicide, total suicide rates, gun homicide rates involving both genders, and male gun homicide rates. An association was found for gun suicide rates and female gun homicide rates replicating the Killias' study done in 2001. Studies in Canada that examined the levels of gun ownership by province have found no correlations with provincial overall suicide rates. A 2011 study conducted looking at the effects of gun control legislation passed in Canada and the associated effects in homicide rates found no significant association. A case-control study conducted in New Zealand looking at household gun ownership and the risk of suicides found no significant associations.
- Krouse, William J. (14 November 2012). Gun Control Legislation (PDF). Congressional Research Service.
- The Washington Post article (June 2018) 
- Time article (June 2018) 
- The Washington Free Beacon article (June 2018) 
- The New York Times (June 2018) 
- The Guardian article (June 2018) 
- Newsweek article (June 2018) 
- The Star Tribune article (June 2018) 
- The Associated Press article (June 2018) 
- Reuters article (June 2018) 
- New York Daily News article (June 2018) 
- http://www.smallarmssurvey.org/de/about-us/highlights/2018/highlight-bp-firearms-holdings.html Small Arms Survey reveals: More than one billion firearms in the world
- http://www.smallarmssurvey.org/fileadmin/docs/T-Briefing-Papers/SAS-BP-Civilian-Firearms-Numbers.pdf Estimating Global CivilianHELD Firearms Numbers. Aaron Karp. June 2018
- http://www.smallarmssurvey.org/fileadmin/docs/T-Briefing-Papers/SAS-BP-Civilian-Firearms-Numbers.pdf June 2018, Estimating Global Civilian Held Firearms Numbers by Aaron Karp
- https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2018/06/19/there-are-more-guns-than-people-in-the-united-states-according-to-a-new-study-of-global-firearm-ownership/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.95af173bb5f2 The Washington Post. There are more guns than people in the United States, according to a new study of global firearm ownership. By Christopher Ingraham. June 19 2018
- http://www.smallarmssurvey.org/fileadmin/docs/T-Briefing-Papers/SAS-BP-Military-Firearms-Numbers.pdf Estimating Global Military owned Firearms Numbers. By Aaron Karp June, 2018
- http://time.com/5315400/gun-ownership-america/ Americans Own 46% of the World's 1 Billion Guns, Says U.N. Report
- http://freebeacon.com/culture/report-nearly-400-million-civilian-owned-guns-america/ Report: Nearly 400 Million Civilian-Owned Guns in America. Civilians own 100 times as many guns as the military, 400 times as many as police. BY: Stephen Gutowski. June 21, 2018
- "Uniform Crime Reporting Statistics". Ucrdatatool.gov. Retrieved 2016-07-18.
- Miller, Matthew; Azrael, Deborah; Hemenway, David (December 2002). "Rates of Household Firearm Ownership and Homicide Across US Regions and States, 1988–1997". American Journal of Public Health. 92 (12): 1988–1993. doi:10.2105/AJPH.92.12.1988. PMC 1447364. PMID 12453821.
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- Miller, Matthew; Hemenway, David; Azrael, Deborah (February 2007). "State-level homicide victimization rates in the US in relation to survey measures of household firearm ownership, 2001–2003". Social Science & Medicine. 64 (3): 656–664. doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2006.09.024. PMID 17070975.
- Kleck, Gary (January 2015). "The Impact of Gun Ownership Rates on Crime Rates: A Methodological Review of the Evidence". Journal of Criminal Justice. 43 (1): 40–48. doi:10.1016/j.jcrimjus.2014.12.002.
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