19 Unbelievable Facts About Guns in America
Policy + Politics

19 Unbelievable Facts About Guns in America

REUTERS/Jeff Mitchell

It’s hard to see a grown man cry. It’s even harder when that man is the president of the United States. Yet President Obama's emotion has been clear both times he's addressed the nation since the shooting. On Sunday night when he spoke in Newtown, Connecticut, his sadness turned to resolve when he said, “Are we really prepared to say that we’re powerless in the face of such carnage, that the politics are too hard?”


This time, the fourth mass shooting during Obama’s term in office, the nation may have heard him.  The events in Connecticut have led to fresh calls for more limits on guns, including the reinstatement of a ban on the sale of assault weapons, including the semiautomatic rifle that the Newtown gunman Adam Lanza used to mow down 20 six and seven year olds and 6 adults. The Fiscal Times took a look at some of the numbers associated with guns.


Mass shootings in the U.S. since Columbine in 1999.

People killed in mass shootings this year in the U.S. (not including the shooters who killed themselves). Seventy-two more people were injured.

Ratio of people killed by guns in the U.S. compared to other developed countries in the OECD. For 15-to-20-year-olds, firearm homicide rates in the U.S. are 42.7 times higher than in other OECD countries, according to a 2011 UCLA School of Public Health study.

Percent of all firearm deaths that occurred in the U.S., among the 23 developed countries looked at in the UCLA study. Eighty-seven percent of all children ages 0 to 14 killed by guns in these countries are U.S. children.

Murders from firearms in the U.S. between the years 2001-2005 alone – and nearly 8 in 10 of these murders involved a handgun, according to the FBI.

Number of signatures on a White House petition started on Friday, December 14, after the events in Newtown, demanding the Obama administration “produce legislation that limits access to guns.”

16.8 million
Applications in 2012 to purchase firearms, up from 8.5 million in 2002, according to the FBI. Kentucky saw the most firearm applications this year at 2.3 million.

$31.8 billion
What the firearms industry generated in 2011 in job creation, sales and taxes, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF).

30 percent
The growth of gun industry-related jobs during the recession (between 2008 and 2011), according to the NSSF.

150 percent
Rising in stock market value of Ruger and Smith & Wesson, the two largest publicly-traded gun makers, since 2010.

Estimated number of guns bought back in Oakland and San Francisco, California, this past Saturday, December 15. Each weapon was exchanged for $200 in cash. In Baltimore, Maryland, people sold back 461 guns the same day.


Semi-automatic shotguns and rifles bought back as part of new gun control measures in Australia after a 1996 mass shooting in which 35 people were killed. The country also prohibited private sales of guns. From 1995 to 2006, homicides by firearm in Australia plunged 59 percent – and they haven’t had a mass shooting since.

Price of a Bushmaster Model .223 on GunBroker.com, the same model used in the Sandy Hook shooting.

300 million
The approximate number of firearms owned by civilians in the U.S. as of 2010, according to the book Firearms and Violence: A Critical Review. Some 47 percent of adults report having a gun in their home, according to an October 2011 Gallup survey

10 years
The maximum time in prison for gun possession by any of the following: someone convicted of a crime, someone dishonorably discharged from the military, a person with a history of mentally illness, or an illegal immigrant. Under federal law, private individuals are not required to conduct a background check before selling or transferring a firearm in the same state, but it is illegal to sell or transfer a firearm while knowing or having “reasonable cause” that the recipient falls into one of the prohibited categories. However, some states like California require background checks for all firearm transactions.

The percentage of the 108 million background checks processed through the federal system that were denied between 1994 and 2009, according to a 2009 report from the Department of Justice, the latest data available.

2,000 – 5,200
Gun shows that take place in the U.S. each year.

The number of laws the NRA has pushed through in the past four years making guns easier to own, carry in public, and harder for the government to track. Eight states currently allow firearms in bars.

$17 million
What the NRA spent on campaigns during the 2012 election cycle.