Elections & Government
Licensed US firearms manufacturers produced 7 million pistols, revolvers, rifles, shotguns, and other similar weapons in 2019, down 39% from a high in 2016, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
Every year, all federally licensed manufacturers of firearms and destructive devices must submit a production and export report to the ATF, documenting the number of licensed firearms they produced. As of January 2021, there were 15,264 such licenses.
Coupled with export and import data, which is also compiled by the ATF, manufacturing data shows how many new guns are available in the US each year. The US had a net increase of 10.6 million available firearms in 2019. That data is incomplete as it excludes other sources of firearms in the US, including trafficking and unlicensed “ghost guns.”
The ATF categorizes firearms into five categories: pistols, revolvers, rifles, shotguns, and all others.
Pistols are guns intended to fire one-handed. There were 3 million pistols produced by licensed manufacturers in 2019, down 35% from the 4.7 million produced in 2016.
Three states accounted for 52% of pistol production in 2019: New Hampshire, Missouri, and Arizona.
Revolvers are pistol-type guns that are known for rotating chambered cylinders. There were 581,000 revolvers produced by licensed manufacturers in 2019, down 34% from a high of 885,000 in 2015.
Manufacturers in New Hampshire and Florida accounted for 64% of revolver production in 2019.
Rifles and shotguns are designed to be fired from the shoulder. The difference between the two is that the insides of shotgun barrels are smooth.
Rifle production dropped 54% from a high of 4.2 million in 2016 to 2 million in 2019.
Factories in New Hampshire, North Carolina, Mississippi, and New Jersey made 58% of the rifles in 2019.
Shotgun production peaked in 2013 at 1.2 million and was 60% lower at 481,000 in 2019.
Texas and Mississippi accounted for 79% of shotgun production in 2019.
The other category encompasses multiple types of weapons, including pistols or revolvers designed to fire shotgun shells, or weapons combining the functionality of rifles and shotguns.
Five states accounted for more than half of the licensed firearms of any type produced in 2019: New Hampshire, Missouri, Florida. Mississippi, and North Carolina.
Federal law requires licensed manufacturers to add a serial number to each firearm made “for purposes of sale or distribution.” The serial numbers allow for tracing the weapons if they get lost or used in a crime. However, gun parts and firearms created by unlicensed manufacturers for personal use are not required to provide identification numbers. As a result, there is no data on the number of these ghost guns.
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