According to data released by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF).on Friday (May 20), in-house gun manufacturing more than doubled and gun imports quadrupled between 2000 to 2020. The widespread boom in pistols and short-barreled rifles contributed to the 187 percent increase in guns made in the U.S. and the 350 percent increase in imports during the two-decade study.
The Supreme Court, along with state and federal legislation, has largely played a role in relaxed gun laws across the nation. SCOTUS rulings against local gun control laws in Chicago and Washington D.C have led to fewer restrictions on individual firearm purchases, ABC News reports.
Untraceable firearms, widely known as "ghost guns," are also being produced at an exponentially higher rate. Often assembled in private residences with parts bought online or individually made, the number of ghost guns recovered by police has increased 1000 percent in the past five years, experts say.
ATF Los Angeles Field Office said in a statement about the report, "One of the most significant developments affecting lawful firearm commerce and law enforcement's ability to reduce illegal access to guns in this period has been the proliferation of privately made firearms also known as “ghost guns."
The AFT report comes as the nation reckons with Saturday's (May 14) Buffalo mass shooting that left 10 Black New Yorkers dead. Payton Gendron, the suspected shooter, carried out the attack using a Bushmaster rifle that was legally purchased, but the weapon had modifications currently illegal by New York state laws.
The U.S. ranks first globally for the number of firearms in the hands of its citizens, a 2018 Small Arms Survey reports. Other countries that landed in the survey's top five have less than half the number of firearms per capita as the U.S.