Research Outline

Firearm Sales in the U.S.


The market for used firearms in the United States. Specifically, to provide the following information:
1) Total annual value of private (i.e. person-to-person) firearm sales in the U.S. (in dollars).

2) Total annual value of used (i.e. pre-owned) firearm sales in the U.S. (in dollars).

3) Total number of private (i.e. person-to-person) firearm sales in the U.S. annually (# of transactions or # of firearms sold).

4) Total number of used (i.e. pre-owned) firearm sales in the U.S. annually (# of transactions or # of firearms sold).
5) If any state specific data is found regarding these areas, that information can also be included.

One note on terms:
-Private firearms sales are defined as sales between two private citizens, basically a person-to-person sale (i.e. those sales not involving a firearms dealer of any type)
-Used firearms sales are defined as any sale of a used firearm by a private citizen, whether the buyer is another private citizen or some form of firearm dealer or business.
-So "private sales" are a part, but not all, of "used firearms sales"

Early Findings

  • According to academic insights published in the Annals of Internal Medicine /ACP Journals, "no routinely collected data indicate how frequently firearms are transferred from one private party to another.
  • This same study surveyed thousands of Americans to find out about their most recent gun transfer. This data found that respondents who purchased their gun (as opposed to receiving it as a gift or though inheritance) purchased their guns in the following locations: gun store (53%), family (3%), friend (7%), gun show (3%), online (1%), other (3%). This suggests that anywhere from 13-17% of guns purchased were made via a private sale.
  • According to Brookings institute, around 19 million firearms were sold in the U.S. in the first six months of 2020. This suggests that sales might be around 38 million by the end of the year.
  • 13%-17% of 38 million equates to a range of 4.94 million and 6.46 million. (Triangulated estimate of number of guns sold in private transactions in a year).
  • Data shows that among private gun sales, 57% took place in states that don't regulate private gun sales, while 26% took place in states with laws regulation private sales.

Summary of Data:

  • Estimated to be between 4.94 million guns and 6.46 million guns.
  • Academic studies show that the wide majority of private gun sales take place in states that don't regulate private gun sales (57% vs. 26%).

Results of Early Findings

  • During this first hour of research, we were able to triangulate an estimate for the number of guns that are privately sold in the U.S., although a directly available figure from a credible source could not be obtained, as this data is difficult to accurately track due to a lack of reporting that is required across various states.
  • During this preliminary research, our team did not find any data that shows the market size (value or otherwise) of used gun sales as they relate to private sellers selling used guns to dealers/stores. Likewise, no data was located which could be used to triangulate this figure. Despite this, a robust level of research into this topic could not be performed within the allotted time. Therefore, it is possible that more indepth research could yield better results. If this data can be found or triangulated, it can be added to the private sale data to provide the "used firearm sales" data requested.
  • Additional research needs to be conducted to determine if the value of private gun sales in the U.S. can be located or triangulated.