On Friday, December 14, a gunman entered an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., and shot and killed 26 people including 20 children. Earlier that same week, an Oregon man shot three people at a shopping mall before taking his own life. A few months before that, a gunman entered a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., and left having taken 12 lives.
Tragedies such as these have raised serious questions about a firearms industry growing larger and more powerful everyday. Today, it's easier for most Americans to access guns than it is to find mental health treatment. Such realities have set in motion a conversation about the nation's gun control laws, and the powerful industry such rules would regulate. So how big is the gun economy really?
Here is everything you need to know about the U.S. firearms industry:
31 billion - Economic impact of the firearms industry in 2011 in dollars.
19 billion - Economic impact of the firearms industry in 2008 in dollars.
4 billion - The number of dollars spent in annual commercial gun and ammunitions sales -- a 20-year high.
158 million - Number of background checks conducted since the FBI was mandated to do so by Congress in 1993.
70 to 80 million - Number of Americans who own guns.
45 million - Number of Americans estimated to own handguns.
16.8 million - Number of background checks for gun sales in 2012.
8.5 million - Number of background checks for gun sales in 2002.
154,873 - The record number of background check calls the FBI reported receiving on Black Friday this year.
200 - Percent profit boost for gunmakers since Obama was elected in 2008.
96 - Percent of the $3 million that gun lobbyists donated during the 2012 election that went to Republicans.
87 - Percent of children killed in the 23 wealthiest nations who are American.
80 - Percent of gun deaths from the 23 wealthiest countries that are American deaths.
78 - Percent of Americans who favored making the sale of firearms “more strict” in 1990.
62.8 - Percent of people who own guns in Wyoming, the state with the highest rate of gun ownership in the U.S.
62 - Percent of 125 online sellers who said they "probably couldn't pass a background check."
47 - Percent of Americans who report owning a gun.
44 - Percent of Americans who favored making the sale of firearms “more strict” in 2010.
40 - 45 - Percent of U.S. households that own a gun.
33 - Percent increase in Winchester’s ammunition sales since 2007.
16.2 - Percent of people who own guns in Connecticut.
4.44 - Percent that gun manufacturer Sturm, Ruger & Company’s stock fell on the day of the Newtown school shooting.