Number of guns made in the US nearly triples since 2000

With the number of firearms-related deaths in America reaching new heights, a new government report shows that the number of firearms made in the US has grown exponentially over the past two decades.

Domestic gun manufacturers produced 11.3 million firearms in 2020 (the latest year for which data is available), about three times the 3.9 million made in 2000, according to a report by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. During that period, a time when the US population grew by 18%, the number of firearms produced each year increased by 250%.

As part of that trend, the use of so-called ghost guns – privately manufactured firearms that are often difficult to trace – has also exploded, the ATF also found.

The report is part of a bid by the Biden administration to curb gun violence. The White House issued a series of guidelines last year to contain the epidemic of shootings, which the government called a public health epidemic. A record number of Americans died of gun-related injuries in 2020, according to the Pew Research Center.

The ATF’s findings come a week after two mass shootings on both sides of the country. On Saturday, a gunman opened fire at a convenience store in Buffalo, New York, killing ten people and injuring three. The next day, a gunman killed one person and injured six at a church in Laguna Woods, California.

“Since 2011, there has not been a year in which fewer than 6,731,958 firearms were manufactured for domestic use,” the report said.

Over the 20-year span of the ATF’s focus, the most popular weapon type shifted in the US. According to the report, guns were the dominant firearm before 2009. From 2010 and almost every year after that, pistols became the most popular.

Making homemade weapons has also become hugely popular from the mid-2010s, the ATF found. Production of miscellaneous firearms — a category that includes parts that are sold to someone who then uses them to assemble a gun — grew 4,200%, with most of that growth occurring over the past 10 years, it said. the report.

“This growth reflects the growing trend among individuals to make their own custom firearms from serialized parts,” the report said.

The ATF also noted an increase in so-called ghost guns or homemade guns — guns made by a person without a serial number. Making your own gun is legal, the ATF noted, and was popular among gun hobbyists in the 1980s and 1990s. But starting in the mid-2000s, the advent of online tutorials and 3D printing fueled the growth of homemade weapons. During this time, the number of do-it-yourself weapons recovered at crime scenes increased sharply.

“As technology advances in the making of [privately made firearms]there has been a corresponding increase in its use in crime,” the agency noted.

†[C]riminals are actively making, using and distributing PMFs both nationally and internationally,” the ATF wrote. And because their production and distribution is unregulated, it is “almost impossible to know how many PMFs are made and distributed to the trade or are used by criminals.”

Law enforcement officers say such weapons appeal to criminals because they don’t need background checks to buy. The Biden administration has pushed to crack down on ghost weapons and implement a new rule that requires them to contain serial numbers and be traceable like other weapons. That rule comes into effect in August.

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