In the past twenty years, the number of gun owners and sporting shooters has declined, despite an increasing population.
The share of the population participating in shooting sports has more than halved, from 0.7% to 0.3% between 1995-96 and 2013-14. The number of licensed gun owners has fallen by a third, which corresponds to a more than 40% decrease in gun owners as a share of population.
Despite this, the number of firearms in Australia is higher now than it was in 1997, even accounting for population. In 1997, there were 2.1 guns per owner; there are now 3.9 guns per owner.
This has significant implications for the gun industry. If the ratio of guns per owner had remained at its 1997 rate, there would have been just 1.70 million guns in Australia by 2016 – or 1.45 million fewer guns. The cultural change of keeping more guns has been tremendously profitable for the gun lobby. Using a rough measure of a gun selling for $1,000, the gun lobby has sold an additional $1.45 billion worth of guns because of the cultural change since 1997 of keeping more guns.