U.S. companies have manufactured more than 70 million firearms since 2008, rapidly escalating the production of pistols and the types of rifles used in recent mass shootings, government and industry data show.
In 2016, the latest year for which data is available, production spiked as firearms companies built roughly 11 million guns, in part because of a belief that Democrats would win elections that year and curb access to semiautomatic weapons such as the AR-15 rifle.
More than 4 million rifles were produced in 2016, up from 1.8 million in 2010. The National Rifle Association has estimated that 25 percent of all rifles produced in the United States are AR-15s or other semiautomatic styles, while other gun groups have said the ratio is closer to 50 percent.
All told, U.S. companies have manufactured more than 150 million firearms since 1986, according to the “Annual Firearms Manufacturing and Export Report,” published each year by the Justice Department’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.