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The facts underpinning gun ownership in the USA

Mike McCartney

25th May 2022

How many guns are there, and what are the rules on carrying?

Here are some facts about gun ownership in the USA.

According to the World Population Review:

According to the Small Arms Survey of 2017, the United States had a population size of around 326,474,000 people. There were about 393 million firearms in the United States, meaning that there were far more guns than there are people. Additionally, given that not every person in the U.S. owns a gun, many people own multiple or many. This fact still rings true, with the only major difference being that the United States population and the number of guns in the nation have grown in size.

Back in 2017, for every one hundred people in the United States, there were one hundred twenty firearms in the hands of the general public. Of the 393 million firearms in the U.S., only 6.06 million of them are registered.

Source is here. Guns Per Capita 2022

Recent events have sparked a fierce debate about what age limits should be for buying certain types of guns.

There is a section on it here from NPR. Gun laws and selling guns to 18-year-olds is being debated by states and courts : NPR

And what about the geography of guns? With the USA having a federal system, unsurprisingly gun laws vary tremendously by state. Though, most states also have their own version of the second amendment. But generally speaking, gun laws are looser, and gun ownership rates are higher in rural areas. A granular analysis of laws by state can be found on the following website. Interestingly it also carries an article about the best 9mm to buy. Yet another illustration of how the UK and the USA are two completely different cultures.

Gun Laws By State: The Complete and Updated Guide (

An example of where you can and can’t carry a gun, even with a licence, is the state of Texas.

Where you can carry a gun:

  • State parks
  • State and national forests
  • Road side rest areas
  • Vehicle
  • All areas of the state not listed as Off-Limits

Where you can’t carry a gun:

  • On the premises of a business that derives 51% or more of its income from the sale or service of alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption
  • On the premises where a high school, collegiate, or professional sporting or interscholastic event is taking place
  • On the premises of a correctional facility
  • *On the premises of a hospital or nursing home
  • *In a permanent amusement park
  • *On the premises of a church, synagogue, or other place of worship
  • *At any meeting of a governmental entity
  • It is an offense to carry a handgun if the person is intoxicated
  • It is an offense to carry a handgun un-holstered and in plain view
  • Members of criminal street gangs are prohibited from carrying a concealed handgun
  • It is an offense to carry a concealed handgun if a person is involved in criminal activity
  • Polling places on day of election
  • Premises of a Racetrack
  • Secured area of airport
  • Any place where the carrying of firearms is prohibited by Federal Law.

Source: Texas Gun Laws | GunsToCarry Guide

Here's what to do if pulled over by the police if carrying a weapon
This clip seeks to clarify the rules on whether you can take your gun to a bar

Mike McCartney

Mike is an experienced A-Level Politics teacher, author and examiner.

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