Many citizens are very concerned with how many firearms are in the United States. There is much controversy over this question. The truth is that there is no official number because there is no regulation of firearms in the United States. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms does not keep any national firearms count. They do however, have records of firearm sales which is available to the public from time to time.
Many states have a wide variation in their definition of a firearm. For example, some states list all firearms, while other only list those that are specifically enumerated. Some states have no regulation whatsoever on how many firearms there are in their possession. Other states regulate firearm purchases and some require a license to purchase a firearm. Still other states have extremely restrictive firearm regulation.
All states have some sort of recordkeeping system for firearm transactions. However, much of this information is considered proprietary information that is not available to the general public. As private detectives can easily locate this data, many states have placed substantial restrictions on how the firearm regulations are overseen. Some states have entire departments that are solely responsible for overseeing the regulation of firearms. This is not a necessary component of firearm regulation in the United States.
In a few states, the regulation of firearm sales is overseen by the National Rifle Association. Every state that enacts an assault weapons ban requires a license to purchase a firearm from licensed dealers. Those dealers must be licensed through the NRA. The organization does not regulate how many firearms are in circulation as it does not regulate firearms at the federal level.
There are two types of firearm regulation. Federal regulation is found in the Firearm Ownership and Firearms Act of handgun sales and use. This act was enacted in 1986 and updated in 1994. Federal regulation does not include sales or purchases between private individuals. Instead, it requires licensed firearms dealers to be licensed through the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. Private persons are required to be licensed through the state in which they reside.
National firearm regulation does not include handguns. However, there are some state laws that do. Many states require firearm owners to register their firearms with the local police department before they are allowed to transfer a firearm to someone else. Additionally, the laws regulate how an individual may possess a firearm within the house and how an individual may use a firearm. All firearms are strictly regulated through state and local laws. If you want to know how many firearms are in the United States, you will need to visit your state and local courthouse to get the answers to these important questions.