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The ups and downs of firearm production, imports, and exports.

For several years Shooting Industry magazine has offered detailed year-end articles on firearm production, imports, and exports. In prior years, U.S. production and export data was separate from import figures. This year's presentation includes the latest figures on the most important aspects of all three components in a format providing both a quick overview and a valuable reference.

In this article, basic production and export figures are from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) and the basic import figures are from the U.S. Bureau of the Census. I is worthwhile to note the BATF also compiles firearms import data which is more detailed than the Census Bureau data in that revolvers and pistols ar listed by caliber, and the calibers of long guns are indicated. The BATF's import data reflects not only the commercial quantities that the Census Bureau reports, but also the smaller quantities imported by individuals.

By law the BATF must withhold disclosure of the production and export figures submitted by each federally licensed U.S. manufacturer for one year. (However, the BATF does publish a consolidated report of by-gun-type totals as soon as a majority of the leading producers' reports are in hand. It is the consolidated report from which this article's 1990 data is extracted.) This one year delay period is applied by the BATF to the firearm import data it collects.

As a result, Census Bureau figures, which are available within two months of current compilation, are the logical figures of choice for these Shooting Industry articles. For reasons not fully explainable (by the agencies as well as those who have diligently compared the reports) there are usually significant differences between BATF and Census Bureau monthly import figures. An analysis of the most recent 10-year period shows the cumulative overall difference at about 7 percent; but for the three most recent years the difference reduces to less than 4 percent.

Quite apart from differences between BATF and Census Bureau figures, other aspects of the entire process of 'counting' imports produces overall totals which, at the least, slightly understate the actual quantity of firearms coming into the U.S.

The export figures represent only quantities of firearms shipped by licensed manufacturers as reported to the BATF. Such figures do not reflect the number of handguns and long guns exported (legally and illegally) by individuals and dealers.

Sharp-eyed researchers will note that occasionally a particular figure for an item in this article is different from the same item in last year's issue. This is due to changes prompted by revised BATF data. Apparently the BATF has quite a struggle each year getting some of the almost 1,000 federally licensed manufacturers to file their reports.

As to why the seemingly odd year 1973 is used to establish a base line, it was the first full calendar year that BATF collected manufacturing and exportation data from licensees. The BATF was prodded into gathering this data by Congress, some of whose members were frequently asking how many of a specific type or caliber of handgun were made each year.

Although all estimates of how many guns are in the hands of U.S. civilians are subject to doubt, there is evidence to indicate that 95 million guns have been sold to citizens in the past 18 years.
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Title Annotation:figures for 1973 to 1990
Author:Howe, Walter J.
Publication:Shooting Industry
Article Type:Industry Overview
Date:Dec 1, 1991
Words:554
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