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The Business of Guns

The Number of Guns Manufactured in the U.S. Has More Than Doubled Since 2008

A new ATF report paints a "broader picture of the state of firearms commerce in the United States today."

In the first five years of Barack Obama’s presidency, the number of guns manufactured in the United States soared astronomically, according to a new report released yesterday from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

The data, compiled in the ATF’s annual commerce report, shows that from 1986 to 2008, the U.S. never produced more than 4.4 million firearms in a single year. But in 2013, the last year for which data is available, the number of firearms manufactured in the U.S. more than doubled, to nearly 10.9 million guns. The report tracks firearms of all types produced for civilian and law enforcement purchases (but not for military use).

A chart provided by the ATF shows there was a dramatic spike in production beginning in 2011:

Screen Shot 2015-07-23 at 10.59.54 AMOverall, U.S. gun manufacturing has nearly quadrupled since 2001, while imports of firearms from other countries fell sharply after several years of growth.

Most of the recent explosion in manufacturing has come in handguns, which are popular with police and for personal defense and concealed-carry purposes. There was also significant growth in “miscellaneous firearms,” a category that includes frames and receivers — basic components of guns that (in theory) must have a unique serial number but are often used in assembling untraceable “ghost” guns. Nearly half a million of these components, which are classified as firearms by the ATF, were produced in 2013, a surge of more than 700 percent since 2009.

The ATF report also notes that U.S. firearm exports have doubled since 2009, to nearly 400,000 guns. Rifles, presumably variants of the AR-15 that is so popular with both law enforcement and civilians, accounted for much of that growth.

Representatives for the ATF drew no conclusions from the data, saying only that the report provides “a broader picture of the state of firearms commerce in the United States today.”

You can read the full report below: