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Americans Own 40 Percent of World's Guns

FILE - An agent of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives holds guns at an ATF field office in Glendale, California, Aug. 9, 2017.

A new report finds civilians in the United States own more guns than those in any other country holding nearly 40 percent of the estimated 857 million guns in private hands.

In a report released Monday, the Geneva-based Small Arms Survey says Americans own 393 million firearms more than the combined total owned in the survey’s other top 25 countries. The report comprises data collected during the past decade.

By comparison, India and China, which each have populations of about 1.3 billion people, came in second and third place respectively, with 71 million and 49.7 million civilian-owned guns.

“Ordinary American people buy approximately 14 million new and imported guns each year,” said study author Aaron Karp at a news conference launching the report.

He said the U.S. gun market is not just large, but unique.

“It is unusual in that ordinary people can buy very powerful weapons that are not available in a lot of other countries — semi-automatic rifles being the most profound example,” he said.

Gun control is a hot political topic in the United States in the aftermath of a wave of mass shootings in schools and at public venues.

Study author Karp says such events often result in a surge of people buying guns.

“Panic buying after mass killings, after massacres, is a major phenomenon so after Sandy Hook, for example, after the Las Vegas shootings you tend to see larger waves of public purchasing,” he said, referring to the 2012 shooting at a Connecticut primary school and last October’s mass shooting at an outdoor concert in Nevada.

The Valentine’s Day shooting this year at Parkland, Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that killed 17 has given new momentum to U.S. gun control advocates. Led by the surviving students, there has been a sustained discussion about how to end the epidemic of mass shootings.

The Trump administration has said it would work to improve school safety, but has not called for new national gun control legislation.