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. The Small Arms Survey stated that 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 world's armed forces control about 133 million (approximately 13 percent) of the global total of small arms, of which over 43 percent belong 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
The following data comes from the Small Arms Survey.
|World wide civilian firearms holdings, 2017|
|Countries and 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|
|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||0.04|
|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) and (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|
United States 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 2018, U.S. civilians bought 4.7 million guns, which is more than all the firearms stockpiled by the United States military. In 2017, Americans bought 25.2 million guns, which is 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, 2 million more guns than the combined stockpile of all the world's armed forces.
Justifying the unique attitude toward gun ownership in the United States, James Madison wrote in 1788 that:
"Those who are best acquainted with the last successful resistance of this country against the British arms, will be most inclined to deny the possibility of it. Besides the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation, the existence of subordinate governments, to which the people are attached, and by which the militia officers are appointed, forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition, more insurmountable than any which a simple government of any form can admit of. Notwithstanding the military establishments in the several kingdoms of Europe, which are carried as far as the public resources will bear, the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms. And it is not certain, that with this aid alone they would not be able to shake off their yokes. But were the people to possess the additional advantages of local governments chosen by themselves, who could collect the national will and direct the national force, and of officers appointed out of the militia, by these governments, and attached both to them and to the militia, it may be affirmed with the greatest assurance, that the throne of every tyranny in Europe would be speedily overturned in spite of the legions which surround it". 
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. 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 reductions in homicide rates as a result of legislation. A case-control study conducted in New Zealand looking at household gun ownership and the risk of suicides found no significant associations.
- 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
- 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
- Estimating Global Military owned Firearms Numbers. By Aaron Karp June 2018
- "Americans Own 46% of the World's 1 Billion Guns, Says U.N. Report". time.com. Retrieved 17 January 2019.
- Gutowski, Stephen (21 June 2018). "Report: Nearly 400 Million Civilian-Owned Guns in America". freebeacon.com. Retrieved 17 January 2019.
- "Federalist No. 46". The Avalon Project. Yale Law School. Retrieved 10 September 2019.
- "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.
- Hoskin, Anthony W. (September 2001). "Armed Americans: The impact of firearm availability on national homicide rates". Justice Quarterly. 18 (3): 569–592. doi:10.1080/07418820100095021.
- 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.
- Anestis, MD; Houtsma, C (13 March 2017). "The Association Between Gun Ownership and Statewide Overall Suicide Rates". Suicide & Life-Threatening Behavior. 48 (2): 204–217. doi:10.1111/sltb.12346. PMID 28294383.
- Westefeld, John S.; Gann, Lianne C.; Lustgarten, Samuel D.; Yeates, Kevin J. (2016). "Relationships between firearm availability and suicide: The role of psychology". Professional Psychology: Research and Practice. 47 (4): 271–277. doi:10.1037/pro0000089.
- Miller, M; Azrael, D; Hemenway, D (February 2002). "Firearm availability and unintentional firearm deaths, suicide, and homicide among 5-14 year olds". The Journal of Trauma. 52 (2): 267–74, discussion 274–5. doi:10.1097/00005373-200202000-00011. PMID 11834986.
- Miller, M. (1 March 2002). "Firearm Availability and Suicide, Homicide, and Unintentional Firearm Deaths Among Women". Journal of Urban Health. 79 (1): 26–38. doi:10.1093/jurban/79.1.26. PMC 3456383. PMID 11937613.
- Miller, Mathew; Azrael, Deborah; Hemenway, David (July 2001). "Firearm availability and unintentional firearm deaths". Accident Analysis & Prevention. 33 (4): 477–484. doi:10.1016/S0001-4575(00)00061-0.
- Stolzenberg, L.; D'Alessio, S. J. (1 June 2000). "Gun Availability and Violent Crime: New Evidence from the National Incident-Based Reporting System". Social Forces. 78 (4): 1461–1482. doi:10.1093/sf/78.4.1461.
- Swanson, Jeffrey W.; McGinty, E. Elizabeth; Fazel, Seena; Mays, Vickie M. (2015-05-01). "Mental illness and reduction of gun violence and suicide: bringing epidemiologic research to policy". Annals of Epidemiology. 25 (5): 366–376. doi:10.1016/j.annepidem.2014.03.004. PMC 4211925. PMID 24861430.
- Hemenway, David (June 2009). "Don B. Kates and Gary Mauser. "Would Banning Firearms Reduce Murder and Suicide? A Review of International and Some Domestic Evidence" Harvard Journal of Law and Policy" (PDF). Retrieved 2018-10-11.
- Kleck, Gary (2004). "Measures of Gun Ownership Levels for Macro-Level Crime and Violence Research". Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency. 41: 3–36. doi:10.1177/0022427803256229.
- Langmann, Caillin (2012). "Canadian Firearms Legislation and Effects on Homicide 1974 to 2008". Journal of Interpersonal Violence. 27 (12): 2303–2321. doi:10.1177/0886260511433515. PMID 22328660.
- Beautrais, Annette L.; Joyce, Peter R.; Mulder, Roger T. (1996). "Access to Firearms and the Risk of Suicide: A Case Control Study". Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry. 30 (6): 741–748. doi:10.3109/00048679609065040. PMID 9034462.
- 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)