Friday, October 18, 2013

How Many Guns Are Stolen Each Year?

One of our favorite commenters recently expressed doubt as to the claim that a half-a-million guns are stolen each year. Of course, this is a guy known to bend the truth a bit in the name of a good argument, so it's hard to tell if he was even serious.  Furthermore, he's a guy who firmly believes in the million-plus numbers of DGUs which are based on telephone interviews with self-aggrandizing gun owners boasting about their exploits. But, with hard numbers of stolen guns reported around 200,000, even though such reports are not required and may very well reflect badly on the stupid gun owners who keep their guns under the pillow for safekeeping, this unnamed commenter finds it hard to believe the true number is up around a half-a-million.


Guns stolen from homes: Almost 600,000 guns are stolen each year from private homes, according to poll data on gun-owning households.

Johns Hopkins University puts the number at 500,000


“I think [the report] needs to be put in context,” said Lawrence Keane, assistant secretary and general counsel at the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a trade association for the gun industry. The number of guns that are stolen each year is likely to be much higher, Keane said, referring to a widely cited survey by the U.S. Department of Justice that suggests it’s closer to 500,000. However, even half a million stolen guns represents a small fraction of how many guns are sold, manufactured and imported in the United States every year, he said. (The ATF estimates that about 6.5 million firearms were manufactured and another 3.2 million were imported in 2011.)

US Bureau of Statistics gives the number of REPORTED guns stolen.

The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics released a report last November with lower -- but still alarming -- numbers. According to the report, 1.4 million firearms were stolen during burglaries and other property crimes between 2005 and 2010. That's an average of 232,400 annually. 

The ATF gives us the number REPORTED, even though it's not required. One can only guess at the multiplication factor required to reach the actual number of guns stolen.

In 2012, NCIC received reports reflecting 190,342 lost and stolen firearms nationwide. Of those 
190,342 lost and stolen firearms reported, 16,667 (9% of the total reported) were the result of 
thefts/losses from FFLs. Of the 16,667 firearms reported as lost or stolen from a FFL, a total of 
10,915 firearms were reported as lost. The remaining 5,762 were reported as stolen. 


  1. You know, I find it interesting how comfortable you are with these guesstimated multiplication factors for stats like number of guns stolen, etc., rather than sticking with the concrete number reported--especially given your refusal to accept DGU numbers unless they are backed up with some kind of proof that suits you. Heaven forbid we accept FBI and others' guesstimates on that number! Anyone who does, even if they cite the lowest estimates rather than what's his face's estimate in the millions, must clearly be called out for lying and bending the numbers for their argument--unlike you who are using an appropriate multiplication factor to estimate the real number.

    1. Your feigned bafflement is typical mendacious bullshit from you. The DGU numbers you try to foist off on us include 95% unproven cases. I'm suggesting that if 200,000 guns are reported stolen, we can safely assume it's two to three times that. Can you see the difference?

    2. Isn't that 95% number the one for Kleck's 1,000,000+ number? Not the FBI's smaller estimate? But then you like to use the arguments against Kleck against any DGU estimate. It fits our style--lie through your teeth and then call everyone else liars.

    3. Supposed to say Your style--typo.

    4. You're the expert on lying through your teeth. The FBI as well as everyone else who produces ESTIMATES of DGUs relies on unsubstantiated reports. That's why they're called estimates.

      The difference between that and what we're saying about stolen guns is a matter of degree.

    5. And we get more falsehood and misdirection!

      You were throwing out a specific percentage of unsubstantiated reports that applied to a HUGE estimate as if it applied to a much smaller one which logic would tell us had a larger proportion of substantiated reports since the same number of these would be available from estimate to estimate.

      This means that that degree of difference is much less when one compares between the FBI's estimates of DGU's and its estimates of guns stolen. It's interesting that you think they can be trusted to come up with one number and not the other. Why is that?

    6. Your lawyerly bullshit isn't up to explaining your way out of this one. 500,000 guns stolen each year is a reasonable estimate since there are hard records of 200,000. DGUs are wild guestimates by comparison.

  2. I'm not terribly surprised that the numbers for gun thefts are so much higher from the first two sources listed since I get the impression that they likely come from the same data source. It would also be much more honest to use the full name when you mention Johns Hopkins, and include the rest of it, Bloomberg School of Public Health. I'm fairly certain you'd mention it if the study were supported by a pro-gun group.
    And of course, the data is now heading towards fifteen years old. The data from the Bureau of Justice and the ATF actually seem to support each other. And if you look at the Bureau of Justice report, you'll see the number of firearm thefts are steadily declining.

    1. So, if nearly 200,000 guns are reported stolen, how many do you think actually are?