The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the trade association for the firearms industry, analyzed federal data from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) and estimated that there are nearly 423 million firearms in circulation across the United States. The report estimates that around 17.7 million "Modern Sporting Rifles," which include "assault rifles" such as the AR-15 and AK-47, are in private hands. In 2018, roughly 8.1 billion rounds of ammunition were produced and sold in the United States.
The NSSF looked at interim data from the ATF's Annual Firearms Manufacturing and Export Report, which showed that 7,660,772 total firearms were produced and imported in 2018. Of those, 4,277,971 were pistols and revolvers, 2,846,757 were rifles, and 535,994 were shotguns. Those numbers were slightly down from 2017 when 7,901,218 firearms were produced and imported into the United States.
“These figures show the industry that America has a strong desire to continue to purchase firearms for lawful purposes,” said Joe Bartozzi, President of the National Shooting Sports Foundation. “The Modern Sporting Rifle continues to be the most popular centerfire rifle sold in America today and is clearly a commonly-owned firearm with more than 17 million in legal private ownership today."
2019 is shaping up to a record year for gun sellers. By the end of November, over 25 million background checks were conducted by the FBI on prospective gun buyers. The FBI is pace to break the 2016 record of 27.5 million background checks.
While gun sales are climbing, the firearms industry is struggling as politicians call for new gun regulations, and the firearms manufacturers find themselves fighting legal battles in the wake of mass shootings. Remington Arms recently filed for bankruptcy, while Smith & Wesson's parent company, American Outdoor Brands, is planning to spin off its firearms unit. Colt's Manufacturing Company announced they planned to stop manufacturing AR-15 rifles and will focus on other weapons.
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