How Many Guns Does The Average American Own [2023 Edition]

How Many Guns Does The Average American Own [2023 Edition]

Guns are as American as apple pie. With the Second Amendment protecting our right to bear arms, firearms have long been embedded in the country’s culture.

While views on gun ownership remain polarized, the number of firearms in American homes continues to rise steadily. Understanding current gun ownership patterns can give you a better perspective for related discussions.

So, how many guns does the average American own these days?

In this article, we’ll provide an overview of gun ownership in the US, looking at the total number of firearms, how this has changed over time, and which states and demographics have the highest rates of gun ownership. We’ll also look at the reasons why Americans buy guns and what drives the massive US gun market.

From hobbyists to hunters, we will explore crucial information about the state of gun ownership in our nation in 2023. Let’s go.

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How Many Guns Does The Average American Own?

Gun Nation

It’s actually pretty tough to pin down the exact number of guns out there because there’s no single database for gun sales. We usually have to rely on surveys and polls done by organizations and researchers, and they might give us slightly different answers. But we can still spot some general trends.

The number of firearms in America has been steadily increasing over the years. It was around 393 million in 2018 and increased by 73 million between 2018 and 2023. Currently the number of firearms in America is considered to be around 466 million due to record-breaking sales during the pandemic.

According to the University of Chicago, 46% of American households own a gun. The average gun-owning American has 5 firearms.

To put these figures in some perspective, they mean that 1/3 of all the civilian guns in the world are in the hands of Americans.

Gun Nation - Graphic by ArmsDirectory Media

Demographics of Gun Ownership

The Pew Research Center conducted a survey in June 2023 and found that about four-in-ten U.S. adults say they live in a household with a gun, including 32% who say they personally own one.

The same survey reveals notable differences in gun ownership rates by political affiliation, gender, community type, race and ethnicity and other factors:

  • Republicans and Republican-leaning independents are more than twice as likely as Democrats and Democratic leaners to say they personally own a gun (45% vs. 20%);
  • 40% of men say they own a gun, compared with 25% of women.
  • 38% of White Americans own a gun, compared with smaller shares of African (24%), Hispanic (20%), and Asian (10%) Americans.
  • 47% of adults living in rural areas report personally owning a firearm, as do smaller shares of those who live in suburbs (30%) or urban areas (20%).
  • Gun ownership rises sharply with income: Householders earning less than $25,000 are only 18% likely to own a gun, while 44% of households earning $90,000 or more own a gun.

Why Some Americans Buy Guns?

A study on new gun ownership reveals that more than 5 million adults became first-time gun owners between January 2020 and April 2021 compared to 2.4 million adults in 2019.

Two main factors have contributed to the increase in gun ownership:

  • The perception of increased crime rates and the need for guns for protection.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has also led to a surge in gun sales, with many Americans feeling the need to protect themselves and their families.

Gun owners cite personal protection as the primary reason for owning firearms, with 72% of them considering it a significant factor. In contrast, a smaller percentage of gun owners mention hunting (32%), sport shooting (30%), gun collection (15%), or job requirements (7%) as major reasons for owning guns.

Why Some Americans Buy Guns


The Geography Of Gun Ownership

When it comes to gun ownership in the United States, the South leads the way with approximately 36% of its residents owning firearms. The Midwest and West regions also have significant levels of gun ownership, each exceeding 30%. On the other hand, the Northeast region has the lowest percentage of gun owners, with approximately 16% of its residents owning guns.

Gun Ownership by State

Let’s take a look at the percentage of gun ownership by state based on population, as reported by World Population Review.

Montana has the most people owning guns, with about 66% of adults. Wyoming is right behind at 66%, and Alaska comes in third at 64%.

On the flip side, Massachusetts and New Jersey have the lowest percentage of gun owners at 14.7%. Keep in mind that they have some of the strictest gun laws in the country. Rhode Island and Hawaii are also down there with 14.8% and 14.9%. New York rounds out the bottom with less than 20% gun ownership at 19.9%.

West Virginia58.5%
South Dakota55.3%
North Dakota55.1%
South Carolina49.4%
New Mexico46.2%
North Carolina45.8%
New Hampshire41.1%
New York19.9%
Rhode Island14.8%
New Jersey14.7%
Gun Ownership by State


Gun Market

The gun market size in the U.S. is substantial, measured by the revenue of the Gun & Ammunition Stores Industry, which was $18.1 billion in 2022. The market has experienced an average annual growth rate of 6.2% between 2017 and 2022.

How Much Does a Gun Cost?

In general, guns are easily accessible in the US, but the process for buying firearms can differ. The cost of guns can vary widely based on the type of firearm you purchase or if you find a good deal.

Most firearms cost in the $400 to $800 range. This might include pistols, shotguns, hunting rifles, and AR-15 rifles.

However, it is important to note that gun laws and regulations requirements vary by state in the US. Some states have more lenient gun laws than others, which can affect the availability of guns.

The Market Thrives Due to Gun Super-Owners

Initially, Fortune magazine discovered the trend of ‘gun super-owners’ which refers to individuals who have an intense passion for guns beyond the average gun enthusiast. For them, owning guns is not simply a matter of necessity, but more like using them as a collection, an investment, or a statement of taste. As reported by Fox Business, these gun super-owners are the driving force behind the market, with approximately 2% of Americans (1 in 50) owning half of the guns in the country. It’s noteworthy that these super-owners, on average, possess 17 guns each.

Wrap Up

In 2023, America boasts approximately 466 million firearms, with an average of 5 firearms per gun-owning individual. Gun ownership rates vary across different demographics such as political affiliation, gender, and community type. Over the years, the number of firearms in the country has consistently risen due to various contributing factors – owning guns for protection is the main one. As the gun market continues its steady rise, the ongoing debate surrounding firearms is expected to endure for the foreseeable future.

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