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gunsmallDespite ongoing debate regarding guns and public safety, firearms seem to be a popular as ever.

Today, Americans own an all-time high of 310 million guns; that figure rises at a 10% clip per year. That’s double the number owned in 1968 and includes handguns, rifles and shotguns.

The gun industry’s economic impact on the United States is a staggering $31.8 billion per year, which, The Christian Science Monitor pointed out, is “less than 1% of the U.S. gross domestic product, about what Americans spend on the arts in a year and the equivalent of Nigeria’s federal budget for 2013.”

While public debates about guns focus mostly on their use for personal defense, hunting actually drives the industry’s economic health.

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Hunters spend billions each year

The National Shooting Sports Foundation outlined the contribution hunters make to conservation and the economy in its 2013 report, “A Profile of Today’s Hunter.” For example, the NSSF says hunters spent $790 million on license fees in 2011, the most recent year for which data is available.

The NSSF reports hunters spent $38.3 billion in 2011, as compared to $22.9 billion in 2006, a 67% increase. Hunters also generated $11.8 billion in federal, state and local tax revenues in 2011. During that year, hunters supported 680,937 jobs with their expenditures and activities, and produced $26.4 billion in salaries, wages and business owner income.

“More than $39 million is spent on travel, such as dining, lodging, transportation and similar expenses. Another $190 million is spent on equipment, and more than $62 million is spent on other items,” said Patrick Berry, Vermont Fish and Wildlife commissioner, in a Shooting Industry Magazine article.

In short, the gun industry and gun makers are alive and thriving. Here are three U.S. gun and ammunition manufacturers, up an average of 67% in the last year.

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