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Shooting industry's annual firearms production, import, and export update.

The Government Has Been Keeping Tabs On The Gun Industry -- These Numbers Reveal A Lot About Our Future

At the end of each year Shooting Industry details the most recent firearm production, import, and export figures available. This information is gathered from spectacular data reported by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF), as well as the U.S. Census Bureau, all made available under the Freedom of Information Act. A cursory review of the statistics reveals that the firearms industry has always been in a transitional state, influenced each year by the usual forces of politics, the economy and international relations.

To keep the material as reader-friendly as possible, we have reduced the number of charts and graphs by nearly half of previous years, while maintaining the same amount of valuable information. For instance, some import and export data listed independently last year are combined into one graph, giving readers an at-a-glance overview of the entire industry.

The BATF has maintained basic firearms production information since 1973 -- its first full year of providing consolidated reports. After compiling spectacular data, it must, by law, withhold figures for one year before their release. As a result, the most recent complete production statistics available are for 1990. The 1991 production figures we show are taken from an interim report of firearms manufacturers who have filed as of May 1992. They will undoubtedly increase after all licensees have submitted their final production figures, and BATF will subsequently publish its "revised 1991 report."

Census Bureau figures were used for the majority of the import and export data, except when comparing imports and exports to firearms production. The main reason for this is that the Census Bureau maintains only basic import and export figures, which tend to differ by several percent from the BATF's. Therefore, a logical, more accurate comparison is to examine the entire bank of BATF figures.

One reason for at least a portion of the discrepancies between BATF and Census Bureau statistics may lie in the actual collecting of information. The Census Bureau receives U.S. Customs data and records all firearms that enter or leave the U.S., regardless of purpose, making its figures consistently higher. The BATF, on the other hand, does not account for any firearms for which there is an approved permit to take guns in and out of the country, i.e., tourists, military personnel stationed abroad who own guns, or other government or military-related purposes. We don't know if this accounts for the entire difference in numbers, but for other than these reasons, neither the BATF nor the Census Bureau could fully explain the disparities.

If the Census Bureau maintained production statistics, they would be the preferred numbers for SI to use. Census Bureau import and export figures are shown for as recently as June 1992, and are available to the public shortly after compilation. This enables a reader to project approximate year-end figures for 1992 by comparing figures of the same time period for 1991.

For diligent researchers, Shooting Industry will publish its mid-year update in the August 1993 issue, when more current statistics are available.

When interpreting this information, keep in mind that the 1991 numbers will increase slightly. However, they most likely will not increase enough to reverse a trend in progress, such as a decline in firearms production or exports. Use these figures (which in many cases have been rounded to the nearest thousand) as a general guide.

Finally, Shooting Industry would like to express thanks to the BATF and the Census Bureau for its prompt attention to our requests pertaining to this research.

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Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Industry in Review
Author:Smith, Ann Y.
Publication:Shooting Industry
Article Type:Industry Overview
Date:Dec 1, 1992
Previous Article:Caveat mercatus: let the merchant beware!
Next Article:Bear catalog 1993.

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