U.S. handgun imports surpassed $1 billion for the first time in 2021
For the first time, the United States imported more than $1 billion worth of handguns last year – and it’s on track to break that record this year, according to the latest data from the US Census Bureau.
While neither the 18-year-old boy who murdered 19 elementary school students and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas this week, nor the 18-year-old boy who allegedly murdered 10 grocery stores in a predominantly black Buffalo, NY neighborhood a week earlier relied on an imported handgun – both were armed with semi-automatic rifles – no weapon is as ubiquitous in America as the handgun.
Handguns, of course, can also be made for rapid fire and this is increasingly the case, according to a report by the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives published three days after the Buffalo shooting and just before the Uvalde shooting.
In fact, since 2009, the number of semi-automatic handguns sold has exceeded sales of rifles in the United States.
Total U.S. handgun imports in 2021 of $1.19 billion marked a 36.74% increase from 2020. This is a growth rate 73% above average of all US imports last year, which increased by 21.24%.
In 2014, total imports were just over half of the 2021 total, at $518.62 million. The United States has set a record for the value of these imports 11 of the past 15 years.
For years, more than a third of these weapons came from Austria, depending on their value. The handgun most closely associated with Austria is the Glock.
Brazil and Croatia have also long been the main sources of imports. Turkey is a fast growing importing country. Brazil’s main handgun manufacturer is Taurus, while Turkey is associated with manufacturers such as Girsan and Tisas. HS Produkt is one of the leading Croatian manufacturers.
In 2021, Austria accounted for 33.6% of the total, compared to 40.13% in 2015; Brazil accounted for 12.25%, compared to 19.38% in 2019; Turkey accounted for 10.72%, an increase from 0.67% in 2014; and Croatia accounted for 10.65%, compared to 15.71% in 2014.
Germany has also long been a top supplier and its market share is growing in the first months of 2022, according to census data, ranking third behind Austria and Brazil with 11%. He is well known for a number of brands, including Sig-Sauer.
In a number of cases, the importing country is closely associated with a specific airport. For example, 99% of handguns imported from Austria in 2021 entered Hartfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, while 98% of the Brazilian brand Taurus entered Fort Lauderdale International Airport, making it one of the most valuable imports at the airport, which handles relatively little cargo.
With Croatian handguns, 100% entered Chicago’s O’Hare International. In the case of Turkey and Germany, the dominance is less pronounced. With Turkey, 61% entered JFK International in New York, with smaller amounts entering Dulles International in the Washington D.C. metro area and Miami International Airport, with Germany, 49% entered at Atlanta and a smaller percentage entered Houston Intercontinental Airport.