Report: More than one billion small arms in world, up from 2007

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

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UNITED NATIONS (AP) — There are more than one billion firearms in the world today, including 857 million in civilian hands, with American men and women the dominant owners, according to a study released Monday.

The Small Arms Survey says 393 million of the civilian-held firearms, 46 per cent, are in the United States, which is “more than those held by civilians in the other top 25 countries combined”.

According to the report, the countries with the largest estimated number of civilian-held legal and illegal firearms at the end of 2017 were the United States with 393.3 million, India with 71.1 million, China with 49.7 million, Pakistan with 43.9 million and Russia with 17.6 million.

“The key to the United States, of course, is its unique gun culture,” the report's author, Aaron Karp, said at a news conference. “American civilians buy an average of 14 million new firearms every year, and that means the United States is an overwhelming presence on civilian markets.”

The report said the numbers include legal and illegal firearms in civilian hands, ranging from improvised craft weapons to factory-made handguns, rifles, shotguns and, in some countries, even machine guns.

The estimate of over one billion firearms worldwide at the end of 2017 also included 133 million such weapons held by government military forces and 22.7 million by law enforcement agencies, it said.

Karp said the new global estimate is significantly higher than the 875 million firearms estimated in the last survey in 2007, and the 650 million civilian-held firearms at that time — mostly due to increasing civilian ownership.

While the United States was dominant in civilian ownership in 2007 and 2017, the report said the US. is only fifth today in military firearms holdings, behind Russia, China, North Korea and Ukraine. It is also fifth in law enforcement holdings, behind Russia, China, India and Egypt.

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