Americans like guns. A look at public data shows how much: Gun production is up, gun background checks are up — and even gun-related baby names, like Colt and Gunner, are on the rise.
Gun production is skyrocketing.
More than 8.57 million guns were produced in 2012, up 31 percent from 6.54 million in 2011, according to data released this week by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which has been tracking the statistics since 1986.
And that's after it rose almost 20 percent in 2011. And 30 percent in 2009.
The graph above uses data from ATF reports since 2009, breaking out production by type of weapon. A lot of the growth is in the yellow section, which reflects rifle production, a category that includes the hyper-popular AR-15.
Not all of the weapons made in the United States stay here, of course. Of the 8.5 million made in 2012, about 300,000 were exported, leaving only 8.2 million brand-new guns for Americans.
Background checks hit a new high in 2013.
The FBI has collected data on background checks since 1998, the process that gun buyers have to go through before completing a purchase and that some gun owners have to go through when renewing permits.
From the end of 2012 into the beginning months of 2013, the number of checks conducted went through the roof, as people bought guns out of concern that Congress would pass new restrictions after the Sandy Hook massacre. Once it became obvious Congress would do no such thing, the pace slowed — but 2013 was still a record year for checks.
Gun-related baby names are on the rise.
Perhaps the most surprising of all, however, is a jump in the name Ruger’s (America’s leading firearm manufacturer) from just 23 in 2002 to 118 in 2012. “This name [Ruger] is more evidence of parents’ increasing interest in naming children after firearms,” Wattenberg writes. “Colt, Remington, and Gauge have all soared, and Gunner is much more common than the traditional name Gunnar.”
Ruger still isn't popular enough to break into the top 1,000 names in the Social Security Administration's database, but the other four certainly are. And since 1999, they've slowly risen among the most popular names for babies in the United States.