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    Americans own 40 percent of world’s firearms

    Americans make up only 4 percent of the global population but they own 40 percent of the world’s firearms, a new study said Monday.
    There are more than 1 billion firearms in the world but 85 percent of those are in the hands of civilians, with the remainder held by law enforcement and the military, according to the Small Arms Survey.
    The survey, produced by the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, says it based its estimates on multiple sources, including civilian firearms registration data from 133 countries and territories and survey results in 56 countries.
    Of the 857 million guns owned by civilians, 393 million are in the United States — more than all of the firearms held by ordinary citizens in the other top 25 countries combined.
    “The biggest force pushing up gun ownership around the world is civilian ownership in the United States,” said Aaron Karp, one of the authors of the report which compiles new data from the last ten years.
    “Ordinary American people buy approximately 14 million new and imported guns every year,” Karp told a news conference at U.N. headquarters in New York.
    “The key to the United States, of course, is its unique gun culture,” he said. “American civilians buy an average of 14 million new firearms every year, and that means the United States is an overwhelming presence on civilian markets.”
    The report said the numbers globally include legal and illegal firearms in civilian hands, ranging from improvised craft weapons to factory-made handguns, rifles, shotguns and, in some countries, even machine guns.
    The estimate of over 1 billion firearms worldwide at the end of 2017 also includes 133 million such weapons held by government military forces and 22.7 million by law enforcement agencies, it said.
    Karp said the new global estimate is significantly higher than the 875 million firearms estimated in the last survey in 2007, and the 650 million civilian-held firearms at that time — mostly due to increasing civilian ownership.
    While the United States was dominant in civilian ownership in 2007 and 2017, the report said the U.S. is only fifth today in military firearms holdings, behind Russia, China, North Korea and Ukraine. It is also fifth in law enforcement holdings, behind Russia, China, India and Egypt.
    The Small Arms Survey released its study to coincide with the third U.N. conference to assess progress on implementing a 2001 program known as Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms, which includes marking weapons so they can be traced. The conference opened Monday and ends June 29.
    Small Arms Survey director Eric Berman stressed that the Geneva-based research and policy institute isn’t an advocacy organization.
    “We don’t advocate disarmament. We are not against guns,” he said. “What we want to do, and what we have done successfully for the last 19 years, is to be able to provide authoritative information and analysis for governments so that they can work to address illicit proliferation and reduce it — and to reduce also the incidents of armed violence.”
    Karp, a lecturer at Old Dominion University in Virginia, said that since the 2007 report, “we have a much more accurate picture of the distribution of firearms around the world than we’ve ever had before.”
    He said information, including on civilian ownership from 133 countries, has enabled the Small Arms Survey to publish figures on 230 countries and autonomous territories. But he cautioned that every country’s figures include “some degree of estimation.”
    According to the report, the countries with the largest estimated number of civilian-held legal and illegal firearms at the end of 2017 were the United States with 393.3 million, India with 71.1 million, China with 49.7 million, Pakistan with 43.9 million and Russia with 17.6 million.
    But Karp said the more important number is the estimated rate of civilian firearms holdings per 100 residents — and in that table India, China and Russia rank much lower than the U.S. and outside the top 25, while Pakistan ranks 20th.
    .Gun ownership rates vary across the world, with 121 firearms for every 100 residents in the United States compared to 53 in Yemen, 39 in Montenegro, and 35 in Canada.
    Japan and Indonesia are at the other end of the spectrum with less than one firearm per 100 people.
    Only 28 countries released information on their military stockpiles while 28 nations offered information the firearms owned by law enforcement agencies.

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