Gun Enthusiasts Say It’s Easy to Amass 17 Firearms at Home

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The Guardian profiles some of the small percentage of U.S. residents who own a large percentage of the nation’s guns. For years, Rich, a refinery operator from Wilmington, De., was a typical gun owner. He had only one or two guns, including a handgun he stashed in a bottom drawer in his bedroom. After the 2012 Newtown, Ct., school murders, Rich worried that a ban was coming and joined the crowd at a local gun store to pay $2,000 in cash for an AR-15, about twice what the gun is worth today. “I never really wanted one before,” he said, “but at that time there was the fear that if you don’t buy it now, you may never, ever get one.”

One purchase followed another. Three months after the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting, Rich owned ten guns. Today, he says, it’s at least 43. The 39-year-old is now one of the firearms super-owners, part of the three percent of U.S. adults who collectively own 130 million firearms, half of the nation’s total stock of civilian guns. The average number of guns owned by 3 percent of the population is 17. Gun enthusiasts say it’s surprisingly easy to get to 17, especially because many Americans inherit multiple guns from their parents and grandparents. “I’m from Texas, and I just have an assload of guns,” said John Risenhoover, a retired agent from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. “The fact that you’d open the closet and have a stack full of guns in this country is really not a big deal. I know it sounds weird.”

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