Latest statistics show the proliferation of privately owned guns is on the rise, with wealthy countries outstripping developing and war-torn countries.
In a detailed report, weapons watchdog the Small Arms Survey has researched the numbers of guns across 230 countries.
Examining the ownership of revolvers and self-loading pistols, rifles, carbines, assault rifles and sub- and light machine guns, held by civilian, military and law-enforcement groups, their latest report shows there are now estimated to be more than 1bn firearms in the world – an increase of 17% over the past 10 years.
The majority of the arms, 85% (857m), are estimated to be held by civilians (including individuals, private security firms, non-state armed groups and gangs); while law enforcement agencies own 2% (23m) and military stockpiles account for 13% (133m).
In comparison, the Small Arms Survey 2007 report found there were 875m combined civilian, law enforcement and military firearms in the world, of which 650m were in civilian hands, a rise of 32% since 2007.
The United States has just 4% of the world population, but the survey estimates that civilians in the US possess almost 40% of the world’s firearms – 393m weapons – equivalent to 121 firearms for every 100 residents. Americans topped the polls in 2007, owning 270m weapons, which translated into 90 weapons for every 100 residents.
Examining the issues surrounding US gun control, the Pew Research Center found that one-third of Americans over 50 said they owned a gun, while this figure fell to 28% among 18- to 29-year-olds.