200,000,000 Firearms in Circulation in the U.S.

From the March 31, 1995, statement of Tulane University criminologist James Wright before the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Crime of the Committee on the Judiciary:

The second essential observation on guns in America today is that there are already something like 200,000,000 firearms in circulation, give or take a few tens of millions, to be sure. It has been said, I believe correctly, that firearms are the most commonly owned pieces of sporting equipment in the United States, with the exception of pairs of sneakers and running shoes. It is not entirely clear just how many acts of gun violence occur in the United States in any typical year. In recent years, we've been pushing 40,000 deaths from firearms. There are, in addition to that, perhaps a few hundred thousand nonfatal, but injurious, firearms accidents, conceivably 500,000 or 600,000 chargeable firearms crimes committed every year, and God-knows-how-many instances where guns are used to intimidate or to prey upon one's fellow human beings.

Making very generous allowances all around, however, the total number of acts of accidental and intentional gun violence, whether fatal or not, whether injurious or not, cannot possibly be more than a couple of million per annum at the absolute outside. This implies, moreover, that the 200,000,000 firearms now circulating in the U.S. market would be sufficient to sustain gun violence at the current rate for at least another century, this even assuming that every gun was used once and only once for some nefarious purpose, and that all additions to the supply were halted permanently and at once. Because of the immensely large number of firearms already circulating in the U.S. market, the violence- reductive effects even of fairly draconian gun control measures might very well not be felt for many decades.