Americans love guns.
In an essay published by the Brookings Institution earlier this week, author Matt Bennett digs into some numbers to show just how far the nation's obsession extends in global terms.
When we compare ourselves to other countries (using the latest data, from the 2007 Small Arms Survey), we find that the U.S. has by far the highest rate of private gun ownership in the world: 88 guns per 100 people. (Next on the list is Yemen, at 55 guns per 100.) At the conservative estimate of 270 million guns, Americans have stockpiled almost half of the privately owned firearms in the world.
The 2007 survey may be the latest comprehensive study on global gun ownership, but it's clear that Americans have been buying guns at a rapid pace since then. According to FBI statistics compiled earlier this year, there were around 65.4 million gun purchases during President Barack Obama's first term. That is nearly double the total during former President George W. Bush's first four years in the White House.
While the rate of gun ownership has fallen over the past decades, gun sales have consistently risen, suggesting a concentration of weapons among fewer individuals. Around 62 percent of gun owners report owning more than one gun, though there is no exact data that tracks the number of guns within households.
For more on how gun ownership data play into the broader debate over gun rights and control, click over to Brookings to read "The Promise: The Families of Sandy Hook and the Long Road to Gun Safety" in full.
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