|Data provided by the FBI|
The United States has one of the highest per capita numbers of firearms in the world. It is estimated that there is about one gun for each man, woman and child in the United States, about 310 million firearms. Every year, some of those firearms are stolen, breaking any official chain of ownership. In any given year, the percentage of firearms reported stolen is fairly small. 191 thousand firearms were reported stolen to the NCIC in 2013. That is about .06 percent of the total firearms in private hands. Not six percent, but six hundredths of one percent.
The FBI started the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) in 1967. The NCIC maintains a list of stolen firearms that are reported to it from a variety of sources, primarily from other criminal justice agencies. From fas.org:
SOURCES OF DATA: Data contained in NCIC is provided by the FBI, federal, state, local and foreign criminal justice agencies, and authorized courts.The numbers recorded in the NCIC system represent a minimum of the firearms that are stolen in the United States. Some guns are stolen but not reported to the police, some owners have not recorded or remember serial numbers, tens of millions of guns have been manufactured before serial numbers were required, and unknown numbers of firearms are made at home or in small workshops.
NCIC keeps data on stolen firearms until action is taken by the originating agency to clear or cancel the record, normally when the firearm is recovered or another reason is found to invalidate the original entry.
As of April 15, 2014, NCIC had records of 2,920,846 stolen firearms in the system, which is a little less than one percent of the total firearm stock in the United States.
©2014 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
Link to Gun Watch
Update: A study done by the Bureau of Justice statistics ( BJS) shows a fairly reasonable approximation to the NCIC numbers, using the National Crime Victimization Study. Their study shows 145 thousand victimizations involving the theft of a firearm in 2010.
As more than one firearm is averaged for each theft, the study notes that an average of 232,00 guns were stolen in each year from 2005 to 2010. This is consistent with the NCIC numbers.