Fake News: CBS Asks “How Heavily Armed is Your State?”

By Dean Weingarten

Short Barreled Shotgun
Short Barreled Shotgun
Dean Weingarten
Dean Weingarten

Arizona -(Ammoland.com)- This fake news report keeps on circulating. It is time to debunk the ignorant and misleading story. This “article” appears to have been published by CBS in 2014. The implication of the story is that it tells something about how many firearms are in each state.

As with much fake news, the most important part is the headline.  In this case, it is a question: “How heavily armed is your state?” CBS gives the methodology. It is laughable to the point of being bizarre. To the ignorant, the methodology may seem plausible.

To those with knowledge of the subject, it is insane. From cbsnews.com: “How heavily armed is your state?

 Here is a look at per capita weapons data, based on the ATF’s National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record, and 2013 data from the U.S. Census.

While the ATF’s National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record is the only accessible list of its kind, it is not all-inclusive. NFA firearms only include the categories regulated by The National Firearms Act of 1934: machine guns, short-barreled rifles, short-barreled shotguns, suppressors, destructive devices like bombs and grenades, concealable devices with the ability to discharge a shot through the energy of an explosive, and any firearm with a bore over half an inch that has not been determined to have a legitimate sporting use.

In the United States there are about 400,000,000 privately owned firearms. The numbers on the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record, (from 2013, as used in the NBC article) show a total of 3,510,980 “firearms”. That is less than 1 percent of the total firearms in the nation.

Of those listed as “firearms” in the NFA, the vast majority are “destructive devices” and silencers, which make up 2.7 million items. That leaves machineguns, short barreled shotguns and short barreled rifles at about 811,000 actual firearms, or less than 1/4 of 1 percent of the firearms in the United States.

A large number of them are owned by police departments and government agencies. Consider the District of Columbia. In the CBS article, it is listed as number two in the nation for per capita “registered firearms”. But the guns on the registry are not legal for private people to own in D.C.

From the washingtonpost.com:

It is illegal to possess the following firearms in D.C.:

  • Sawed-off shotguns
  • Machine guns
  • Short-barreled rifles
  • An assault weapon
  • A .50 BMG rifle

The guns on the NFA registry in D.C. are owned by government agencies, which are exempt from the D.C. gun bans.

To sum up.

The headline is so misleading as to be bizzare.

The database used is for exotic, highly regulated items that make up less than 1 percent of the firearms in the United States.

Most of the items (75%) are only “firearms” in the convoluted legalese of the National Firearms Act. The are destructive devices and silencers, not firearms. Actual firearms in the data base, in the common usage of the word, only make up 1/4 of 1 percent of the privately owned firearms in the United States,

Large numbers of the items in the database are owned by police or government agencies, not private citizens.

It is hard to image using a set of data more likely to mislead about the relative numbers of firearms in a state than the NFA data set. Simply using the census data would be closer to reality.

©2017 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.

Link to Gun Watch


About Dean Weingarten:

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

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What a bunch of crap. More fake news to brainwash the sheep. If the gun owning rate in New Yorkistan is 10.3% I must know most of them because there sure is a hell of a lot of people that own them around here on my side of the state— I actually can only think of 2 people I know of that don’t own at least a couple… I would love to see NYC separate from NYS ( http://www.newamsterdamny.org/ ) so us real Americans here upstate could be freed from the corruption in Albany that is mainly caused from all… Read more »


That claim of being held hostage by over populated areas in the state isn’t New York’s alone. California, Colorado, Illinois, Oregon, Washington, Wisconsin, and Minnesota come to mind as well. If you don’t believe me look at a political map of the USA by county.


Just more dumbing down of the citizens. Don’t the worthless cbs, nbc and of course the commie nn know these tactics have been tried before and were successful but we have learned from history that it is not in the best interest of the citizens of this country and we are resisting. Hopefully, they will suffer economic decline and have to be reorganized or go off the air completely. That would leave a lot of rats roaming the streets looking for someone to preach the lies to.


Thanks Dean. I knew that this bit of (at best) disinformation had been around for a while but didn’t realize it is over 3 years old.- but still gets trotted out to ‘impress'(?) the sheeple. Most of the group that their information from such ‘studies’ couldn’t tell the difference between a washing machine and a machine gun. We need to point out the false narrative being presented every time it rears its ugly head.

marc disabled vet

What they said ? Can’t hear ya !
What they hear is the rumbles of their
own flatulence from within !


Here is the real secret. Most states (obviously our national government) have in their body of law the right of the governor of that state, in anything he/she declares as a state emergency the legal ability to ban, order the surrender of, stop the use or carry of, or even confiscate firearms and ammunition. The same for many mayors. And once this is done law enforcement and or their state’s national guard must and will enforce the order. New Orleans after Katrina and the American Virgin Islands after Irma are two examples. Our Second Amendment rights are always that tipping… Read more »

Wild Bill

No, Jack, that state of emergency thing as a basis for confiscating people’s firearms is not real or true. Nor would it be effective against our God given, Bill of Rights enumerated, Constitutional Civil Rights not to be deprived of our property without just compensation And to KEEP and CARRY firearms. “New Orleans after Katrina and the American Virgin Islands after Irma are two examples.” of what it is illegal to do, and have been recognized as such. A federal court held agains the city of New Orleans. The Governor of the territory of AVI still might loose his job.… Read more »

Wild Bill

How heavily armed is my state? We have no LAWs, SAWs, or 155 SPs. No A10s, or Apaches. So…not heavily enough.

M Reyna

The sky is falling the sky is falling said chicken little,
And everyone in the barnyard believed him.
Good thing most of us don’t live in the barnyard.

1776 Patriot

MSM generates fake news? That can’t be right, because they said so!

Green Mtn. Boy

The left can’t let facts and logic get in the way of the agenda.