America’s Stolen Guns: A Silent Contributor to Gun Crimes in the U.S. (2024)

The issue of guns in America mainly arises from stolen firearms, as it’s uncommon for lawful gun owners to commit crimes. However, in America, being a victim of gun theft is unique because victims are often blamed for making themselves vulnerable to criminals.

Key Points:

  • 1,074,022 firearms were reported stolen in the U.S. between 2017 and 2021, which equates to an average of 200,000 per year.
  • There were more guns stolen in 2017 than in 2021, despite an increase in gun sales nationwide in 2021.
  • 85.9% of those possessing a firearm, when they committed their crimes, purchased or obtained the firearm from somewhere other than a licensed dealer.
  • Firearm-related homicides are largely related to socioeconomic disadvantages and poor upbringings.

The data provided offers a thorough understanding of stolen guns in the U.S. and suggests ways to enhance crime prevention through sensible measures. For a detailed list of our sources, please refer to the comprehensive list provided here.

Understanding Stolen Guns in America

Between 2017 and 2021, a total of 1,074,022 firearms were reported stolen in the U.S., averaging around 200,000 annually. However, these figures are estimates, as criminals typically do not report their illicit activities to law enforcement agencies for research purposes.

While this number seems exceptionally high, the truth is that less than a fraction (only 0.042%) of civilian-owned firearms in the United States are stolen each year. Therefore, it is safe to say that the vast majority of gun owners are, in fact, taking precautions to ensure thieves do not acquire their property.

Stolen guns in America are used in a significantly higher number of crimes than legally purchased firearms. However, many stolen guns are never used in crimes.

Diagnosing firearm theft is challenging due to reporting issues. However, according to an Everytown study based on FBI data that is no longer available, firearm theft from vehicles began surpassing firearm thefts from burglaries in 2014, years before many states passed open carry legislation.

When a thief takes a firearm from an unsuspecting victim, it becomes nearly impossible to track until it is recovered after a crime or when police recover it during a traffic stop.

Here are the things you need to know about stolen guns in America:


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