The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) keeps track of the firearms licenses in the United States. As of last month, the figure totaled 130,525. The establishments with licenses vary considerably by state and also by the categories by which the ATF tracks them.
Federal Firearms Licenses fall into nine categories. In each case, the official name for firearms is “destructive devices.” These in turn are defined as guns or explosive devices regulated by the National Firearms Act of 1934, revised by the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 and Gun Control Act of 1968.
These are the nine categories:
- Dealer in Firearms Other Than Destructive Devices (Includes Gunsmiths)
- Pawnbroker in Firearms Other Than Destructive Devices
- Collector of Curios and Relics
- Manufacturer of Ammunition for Firearms
- Manufacturer of Firearms Other Than Destructive Devices
- Importer of Firearms Other Than Destructive Devices
- Dealer in Destructive Devices
- Manufacturer of Destructive Devices
- Importer of Destructive Devices
Clearly not all establishments on the list sell firearms directly to the public.
The market for guns in the United States is huge. Some estimates put the number of guns in the country at over 300 million. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), over 30 million guns have been sold in the United States this year through October. At the current rate, U.S. gun sales will set a record in 2020.
These are the number of gun dealers by state, according to the ATF:
|District of Columbia||33|
|Northern Mariana Islands||3|
|U.S. Virgin Islands||13|