Slightly more than 190,000 firearms were reported lost or stolen across the country last year, according to a report by the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives.
The audit, ordered by the Obama administration in the aftermath of the December Connecticut school massacre, is the first such public accounting by the ATF.
The overwhelming majority —183,660 — were stolen guns. That number is up from 145,300 firearms reported stolen in 2010, according to a separate 2012 review by the Bureau of Justice Statics' National Crime Victims Survey.
However, the Bureau of Justice Statistics' survey found that firearm thefts, like overall thefts, have been declining for much of the past decade, says USA Today.
In its report, the ATF warned that its findings "likely reveal only a fraction of the problem'' because "many lost and stolen firearms go entirely unreported.''
"Individuals (who) steal firearms are more likely to commit violent crimes with stolen guns, transfer stolen firearms to others who commit crimes and create an unregulated secondary market for firearms,'' the ATF report stated.