By: Cassandra McBride |

Report Highlights

  • Gun ownership in America increased 28% from 1994 to 2023
  • It is estimated that there are 393 million civilian-owned firearms in the U.S.
  • There are 6.06 million registered civilian firearms in America
  • Estimates show that 82,880,000 people own at least one firearm in 2023
  • Women’s firearm ownership increased by 177.8% in the past years
  • Gun ownership increased more among Hispanics than any other demographic between 2017-2023 (33%)
  • Gun ownership declined by 22% in the 18-29 age group over the past six years
  • One out of every 20 adults in the U.S. purchased a firearm for the first time during the pandemic

As the political climate heats up surrounding gun control and legislation, more Americans are buying firearms today than six years ago. In the past twenty years, gun ownership has risen slightly among women and Hispanics while it has decreased among men.

How Many Americans Own Guns?

In 2023, 32% of Americans own at least one firearm. There are approximately 259,000,000 adults, which equates to 82,880,000 people who own a firearm in the U.S.

Firearm ownership increased by 6.7% in the U.S. (all demographics) between 2017 and 2023. During that same time period, women increased ownership by 13.6%, and Hispanics increased ownership by 33.3%.

NET Gun Ownershipin 2017 and 2023

Not only is gun ownership on the rise, but some demographics are purchasing guns at higher rates today than ever before.

Furthermore, 7.5 million adults (2.9% of adults in the U.S.) became first-time gun owners between 2019 and 2021. Of those, 5.4 million did not have a firearm in the household before purchasing.

Gun Sale Trends in America 2010-2023

While firearm ownership historically remains between 40% and 47% of the adult population, purchase trends vary widely. More Americans bought firearms in 2020 than any year since 2010.

Gun Sale Trends in America 2010-2023

Increased gun sales backing increased gun ownership in the U.S.

How Many Legal Gun Owners in the United States?

Unfortunately, it’s nearly impossible to tell exactly how many legal firearm owners there are in the U.S. However, we can explore the NICS, gun sales, and firearm ownership trends to better explain the legality of firearm ownership in America.

  • Current estimates state that there have been more than 7 million firearms sold in the US via an FFL dealer or private seller with a background check (January through May)
  • More than 64 million background checks (E-Checks) have been approved since 2002
  • There are currently more than 6 million registered firearms of the estimated 393 million in circulation

How Many illegal?

While some estimate that more than one million Americans possess firearms illegally, criminals do not regularly report firearm possession. Therefore, we must look into past data to better understand illegal firearm ownership in the U.S.

  • Only 146 firearms were confiscated during a license or registration process in 2021
  • 316,464 firearms were recovered by the ATF in 2021 involving the commission of a crime
  • 47,361 firearms were confiscated from individuals under the age of 21 in the U.S. in 2021
  • 68% of firearm offenders are rearrested within 8 years, compared to only 46% of non-firearm offenders (2005)
  • In 2018, there were 6,719 federal convictions under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)

What Percentage of Americans Own Guns?

40%, or approximately more than 82,000,000 Americans own guns. As a matter of fact, 28% more people report having firearms in 2023 than twenty years ago.

NET Gun Ownershipin 1994 and 2023

Gun ownership has been on the rise in recent years.

How Many Guns Does An Average Gun Owner Possess?

The average American owns between one and five firearms. Men are more likely than women to own more than one, and those with only one firearm typically have a handgun or pistol.

  • 62% of gun owners with only one firearm have a handgun
  • 66% of gun owners have more than one firearm
  • 29% of gun owners have five firearms
  • Men are more likely to own more than one firearm (74%) than women

How Many US Households Have Guns?

Currently, more than 40% of households have at least one firearm (an estimated 52,000,000 households). The number of households with guns increased by 14.3% since 1994, with 18% more buying firearms during the pandemic.

 Household Gun Ownership

Household gun ownership is on the rise in the U.S. Many households acquired new firearms during the pandemic.

How Many Americans Report That They or Someone in Their Household Have A Gun?

Only 10% of respondents to the June 2023 survey stated they do not personally own a firearm but do live in a home with someone else who does. This is a 6.7% increase from 2017.

What Is The Primary Reason Why Americans Possess Guns?

  • 72% of gun owners say they keep a firearm for protection in 2023
  • Only 32% of Americans own a firearm for hunting
  • 30% of gun owners use firearms for sports
  • 15% of firearm owners keep them as a collection
  • 7% of owners use their firearms in a work-related setting

Despite fluctuations in firearm ownership, the number one reason owners keep firearms is for protection (an increase of 7.5% since 2017). However, firearm collections have increased by 15.4% since 2017.

Primary Reason Why Americans Possess Guns

The majority of gun owners cite personal defense as a reason for owning guns.