The Business of Guns

Gun manufacturing and sales is big business in the United States — as it turns out, one of the biggest.

In terms of gun ownership, the U.S. is the runaway global leader. There are nearly nine firearms for every 10 American citizens; this proportion is 40% higher than that of Yemen, which ranks second in the world for gun ownership.

Every year, nearly 9 million firearms enter the U.S. market. 5.5 million guns are manufactured domestically, and roughly 95% are eventually sold to Americans. An additional 3.2 million firearms are imported into the U.S. and sold through licensed firearms dealers. Currently there are more than 130,000 of these licensed dealers in the country; to put that number in perspective, the U.S. is also home to 144,000 gas stations, 36,500 grocery stores, and 14,000 McDonald's restaurants.

Want more comparisons? The firearms industry generates roughly $32 billion in revenue every year — $10 billion more than the Ford Motor Company — and employs 98,000 people, five times more than Google Inc. Furthermore, the gun industry is continuing to grow at an astonishing rate. Connecticut-based Sturm, Ruger & Co., the country's fourth largest firearm manufacturer, recorded a $180 million increase in revenue since 2004.

Video Transcript

The U.S. is #1 when it comes to gun ownership in the entire world, with 88.8 firearms per 100 people. In fact, the second country on the list of most gun owners per person is Yemen - at a whopping 40% lower ownership rate than the U.S.

Whatever your politics, guns are one of America's biggest industries.

One: Manufacturing. Nearly 5.5 million guns are manufactured annually in the United States and 95% of these are sold to Americans. An additional 3.2 million guns are imported to the U.S. from other countries.

Two: Retail. There are nearly 130,000 licensed firearm dealers in the United States. Compare this to nearly 144,000 gas stations, about 36,500 grocery stores, and just over 14,000 McDonalds.

Three: The Bottom Line. The ammunition and firearms industry pulled in about $32 billion each year and employed 98,000 people. That's $10 billion more than Ford made in the same year and five times more employees than Google. And the gun industry isn't weakening - since 2004, major gun manufacturing company Sturm Ruger's alone saw their revenue increase $183 million.

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