A note to the folks obsessed with somehow disarming all civilians: You may want to find a new hobby. This particular horse isn’t just out of the barn, it’s in the field shooting skeet.
Worldwide, there are about 857 million firearms in civilian hands—up 32 percent from the last Small Arms Survey estimates in 2006. For comparison, there are about 133 million firearms controlled by the world’s militaries and 22.7 million in the hands of law enforcement across the planet.
That means a growing numbers of civilians around the world are in a position to push back against police and militaries that serve often-abusive governments, and that are already outmatched in terms of raw weaponry. In the wake of the murderous, state-sponsored horrors of the 20th century, this latest report from the respected, Geneva-based Small Arms Survey represents good news to many people (albeit not the usual suspects you’ll see quoted on the news).
The disparity in arms between government forces and civilians is common in much of the world, but particularly dramatic in the United States, which accounts for a huge share (about 46 percent) of the world’s privately held arms.
In the U.S., which has seen a sharp decline in violent crime over the past quarter-century (from 747.1 violent crimes per 100,000 residents in 1993 to 386.3 violent crimes per 100,000 residents in 2016), law enforcement officers wield an estimated 1,016,000 firearms and police a civilian population that owns 393,300,000 firearms. Even the U.S. military adds only another 4,500,000 firearms to the equation (not counting heavy weapons).
Civilians in the U.S., as elsewhere, aren’t getting any less well-armed relative to their political masters, either.