The Gun Economy

The gun industry is expected to reap $13 billion in sales in the US in 2017. In a year in

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which other retail industries are facing reduced sales, guns are going strong.(1,2)

Either encouraging or  reflecting the strength of gun sales, there are 64,417 Federal licensed firearms dealers in the US. Adding collectors, manufacturers and importers brings the total number of sellers to 132,799.

Not everyone with a license still sells guns. Conversely, we have the black market of unlicensed dealers as well as “ghost guns” which are manufactured by independent crafters. Unlike black market guns whose serial numbers may have been filed down, ghost guns never have these numbers.

The number of licensed dealers greatly exceeds the number of McDonald’s restaurants in the US (14,146 as of 2016) as well as the number of pharmacies (approximately 67,000).  It still less than the number of gas stations (roughly 150,000 and falling, as of 2015), but not by all that much.(3)

As reported by CNN, Americans own 48% of the estimated 650 million civilian guns in existence worldwide. That’s one gun for every man, woman and child in the US. The US far exceeds any other country in gun-related deaths.(4)

  • The US has 66 unintentional shootings and suicides and 36 murders per million people.
  • The UK has two unintentional shootings and suicides and 0 murders per million people.
  • Canada has 18 unintentional shootings and suicides and 5 murders per million people.

As I’ve said previously, Americans are better at killing Americans than anyone else. (ISIS may have come to that realization, if the Vegas shooter was in fact acting for them.)

The numbers will increase in the US. As Baby Boomers age and turn senile, shootings will increase, some of which will be fatal. In concealed carry states like Florida and Texas, this may get real interesting, in a gallows humor sort of way.


  1. Leanna Garfield, “There are 50,000 more gun shops than McDonald’s in the US,” Business Insider, 6 October 2017.
  2. Reuters, “Retail industry group revises down its 2017 U.S. sales forecast,” 6 September 2017.
  3. Daniel Gross, “America’s Gas Stations Are Running Out of Time,” Slate, 10 June 2016.
  4. Kara Fox, “How US gun culture compares with the world in 5 charts,” CNN, 4 October 2017.


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