How Many Firearms Are in the United States?
When a politician asks, how many firearms are in the United States, this is often an accurate question. Each state has the right to keep a regulated quantity of firearms for hunting and other law enforcement purposes. The ATF determines the number of firearms that are permitted to be kept by each state. It is important to understand that these numbers are not set in stone. There have been fluctuations over the years, but there are still discrepancies between the amounts of firearms permitted in different states.
The first thing that a firearm owner needs to know is the number of permits that the state requires for firearms sales. All 50 states have some sort of firearm regulation, and the numbers are not consistent from one state to the next. Some states allow one time firearm sales; others require multiple sales over a period of time, and some require NICS checks. These are all things that need to be determined by the local government in order to determine how many firearms are available for sale in the buyer’s state.
The second thing that needs to be determined is how many firearms are made in the United States in a year. This information is not always readily available from the ATF or the NSS. NSS data will show the sales of firearms from licensed dealers, but the ATF does not release the yearly number for firearm sales. This number is considered proprietary and is only released by the FBI. The ATF does maintain records of firearms sales, but these are not considered public information.
In order to get the most current number on how many firearms are available in the United States, you need to consult with both the ATF and the NSS. Both of these agencies will have the best data available, because they are not federal organizations. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms will have access to state NICS data, while the NSS will have access to the FFL data. The NSS will also have access to the NTVS numbers that are used to track firearm sales across all states.
If you would like to request the firearm sales that are reported by the ATF, the NSS, or the FBI, you will need to contact the designated agencies directly. If you would like to request the number of firearms that are in the inventory of the ATF, you will need to contact them directly as well. Each agency has a different way in which they compile and report this number.
Knowing how many firearms are in the United States is important for those that engage in firearms commerce. Those that purchase firearms must know how many firearms are available for sale in their state. Every time a firearm is purchased, it is required to undergo background checks that are performed by the FBI. These checks are done to make sure that the individual that is purchasing the firearm knows that they are purchasing a firearm through an authorized entity.