gun protest
Protesters begin a 17-mile march against gun violence from National Rifle Association (NRA) headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia, July 14, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

A latest study found there are over 1 billion firearms in the world today, of which 85 percent (857 million) belonged to civilians.

According to the Small Arms Survey released Monday, nearly 40 percent of all guns are in hands of United States citizens, which is much more than those held by civilians in the other top 25 countries combined.

Aaron Karp, the report’s author said, “The key to the United States, of course, is its unique gun culture. … American civilians buy an average of 14 million new firearms every year, and that means the United States is an overwhelming presence on civilian markets.”

At the end of 2017, 133 million (13 percent) arms were with military arsenals, and 23 million (2 percent) were owned by law enforcement agencies worldwide, the study found.

According to the report, the numbers included legal and illegal firearms in civilian hands, ranging from improvised craft weapons to factory-made handguns, rifles and shotguns.

Small Arms Survey 2007 found there were 875 million firearms in the world, of which 650 million were in civilian hands. This shows a rise of 32 percent over the last ten years.

“We have a much more accurate picture of the distribution of firearms around the world than we’ve ever had before,” Karp said, cautioning every country’s figures included some degree of estimation.

“The indications are that U.S. civilians will continue to acquire firearms with acquisition averaging around 14m guns annually during the last five years … the U.S. contributes disproportionately to the increase of the global firearms stockpile,” Karp added, the Guardian reported.

The report stated the countries with largest held civilian weapons include U.S. with 393.3 million, followed by India with 71.1 million and China with 49.7 million.

The study also mentioned another important list was the rate of civilian firearms holdings per 100 residents, which was topped by the U.S. According to the report, 121 Americans owned firearms per 100 residents, while countries such as India, China and Russia ranked much lower in the list and outside the top 25.

U.S. is fifth today in law enforcement holdings, behind Russia, China, India and Egypt and also occupies the same position in military firearms holdings, behind Russia, China, North Korea and Ukraine.

“We don’t advocate disarmament. We are not against guns,” Small Arms Survey director, Eric Berman, said.

“What we want to do, and what we have done successfully for the last 19 years, is to be able to provide authoritative information and analysis for governments so that they can work to address illicit proliferation and reduce it — and to reduce also the incidents of armed violence,” he added, Associated Press reported.

“The countries with the highest level of firearm violence — they don’t rank high in terms of ownership per person,” Anna Alvazzi del Frate, Small Arms Survey’s program director said. “So what we see is that there is no direct correlation at the global level between firearm ownership and violence.”

Karp said arm ownership rates in Canada and Iceland have gone up. She added Finland, Iraq, Sweden and Switzerland are some countries whose ownership rates appear to have gone down since 2007 while rates in Cyprus, Yemen, Serbia and U.S. remained relatively stable.