Small Arms Survey 2007 – Americans Own Most of the Guns

This week, the Geneva-based Graduate Institute of International Studies released its Small Arms Survey 2007.

The Survey is supported by the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, and receives contributions from the governments of Belgium, Canada, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

The survey covers issues such as firearms production, international small arms transfers, international transfer control initiatives, the impact of urbanization on armed violence, and the economics of small arms.

According to this year’s report:

  • U.S. citizens own 270 million of the world’s 875 million known firearms. This comes out to 90 guns for every U.S. 100 citizens. The U.S., representing 4.5% of the Earth’s population, owns 30% of all the small firearms on the planet. If only the civilian-owned small arms (650 million) are counted, U.S. private citizens own 41.5% of all the non-police/non-military firearms.
  • India had the world’s second-largest civilian gun arsenal, with an estimated 46 million firearms outside law enforcement and the military for a ratio of 4 guns per 100 people there. China comes 3rd with 40 million privately held guns, or 3 firearms per 100 people
  • On a per-capita basis, Yemen had the second most heavily armed citizenry with 61 guns per 100 people, followed by Finland with 56, Switzerland with 46, Iraq with 39 and Serbia with 38
  • France, Canada, Sweden, Austria and Germany each had about 30 guns per 100 people, while many poorer countries often associated with violence ranked much lower. The report states that gun ownership thus may be correlated with rising levels of wealth, and that means future demand may rise rapidly in parts of the world where economic growth is giving people larger disposable income
  • Overall, civilians own approximately 650 million of the total 875 million combined civilian, law enforcement, and military firearms in the world today
  • Five years ago, the Small Arms Survey had estimated there were a total of just 640 million firearms globally
  • At least 60 states made what could reasonably be interpreted as irresponsible small arms shipments to 36 countries during the period 2002–04
  • The more effective a country’s regulatory laws are, the higher weapons prices will be. In African countries, the price of an assault rifle is around 200 US dollars lower than the global average
  • Only about 12 per cent of civilian weapons are thought to be registered with authorities

Cross-posted to Library Boy.


  1. Not to take issue with the more peaceful folk north of the border, but when did 30% become “most”?

  2. Hi Walt

    When it means a plurality? As in the most of any candidate, country, etc. I have to say that over 5 times the nearest rival’s number is a hefty plurality.

  3. A plurality would be “the most.” “Most” by itself implies a majority. Thirty percent of the guns is not “most” of them—it would have to be more than fifty percent to be considered “most” of them.

  4. When there’s 90 guns for every 100 Americans, that makes the highest proportion of gun ownership in the world. Yemen came in second with 61 guns for every 100 Yemenis. Thus, Americans have the highest rate of gun ownership out of any country in the world. That’s what makes America the “most” armed country in the world. Basic statistics, my friend.

  5. That’s a lot of guns…30% of all guns in the world? Wow.