Here’s how many South Africans own a gun

Weapons watchdog the Small Arms Survey has released its latest report on gun ownership around the world.

The survey includes statistics from over 230 countries, and is based on the ownership of revolvers and self-loading pistols, rifles, carbines, assault rifles and sub- and light machine guns, held by civilian, military and law-enforcement groups.

It estimates that there are now more than one billion firearms in the world. 857 million (85%) are in civilian hands, 133 million (13%) are in military arsenals, and 23 million (2%) are owned by law enforcement agencies.

The new studies suggest that the global stockpile has increased over the past decade, largely due to civilian holdings, which grew from 650 million in 2006 to 857 million in 2017.

Virtually all countries show higher numbers, although national ownership rates vary widely, reflecting factors such as national legislation, a country’s gun culture, historical and other factors, the report found.

National ownership rates vary from about 120.5 firearms for every 100 residents in the United States to less than 1 firearm for every 100 residents in countries like Indonesia, Japan, Malawi, and several Pacific island states.

Civilian-held legal and illicit firearms

Ranking Country Firearms
1 United States 393 300 000
2 India 71 100 000
3 China 49 700 000
4 Pakistan 43 900 000
5 Russian Federation 17 600 000
6 Brazil 17 500 000
7 Mexico 16 800 000
8 Germany 15 800 000
9 Yemen 14 900 000
10 Turkey 13 200 000
11 France 12 700 000
12 Canada 12 700 000
13 Thailand 10 300 000
14 Italy 8 600 000
15 Iraq 7 600 000
16 Nigeria 6 200 000
17 Venezuela 5 900 000
18 Iran 5 900 000
19 Saudi Arabia 5 500 000
20 South Africa 5 400 000
21 Colombia 5 000 000
22 Ukraine 4 400 000
23 Afghanistan 4 300 000
24 Egypt 3 900 000
25 Philippines 3 800 000

South Africa

While the number of register civilian gun owners is relatively low in South African compared to other countries, the country stands out due to the high number of unregistered/illicit firearms in civilian hands.

The survey estimates that there are currently 5,351,000 firearms in civilian possession in the country – placing it as the 20th highest in the world behind countries such as Saudi Arabia (5.5 million) and Iran (5.9 million).

Of these, approximately 3 million are registered (legal) firearms, while the remaining 2.35 million are unregistered.  This means that there are effectively 9.65 civilian firearms per every 100 persons in the country.

In comparison, there are approximately 250,481 firearms registered to law enforcement in the country, and around 350,636 total military firearms.


Read: 5 ways parliament wants to tighten gun control in South Africa

Latest news

Partner Content

Show comments

Follow us

Recommended