There are 50,000 more gun shops than McDonald's in the US

Nearly a week after shooter Stephen Paddock killed at least 59 people and injured 527 others on the Las Vegas Strip, details have emerged about his gun-buying history. In the past year, Paddock purchased 33 guns, most of them rifles. He owned more than 40 firearms.

It's legal to own that many guns in Nevada, which has resisted efforts to tighten firearm laws in recent years. It's not only relatively easy to get a gun in Nevada, it's also easy to find a firearm dealer. Statewide, there are approximately 505 federally licensed gun dealers as of September 2017.

That number may sound high, but gun stores permeate every US state. They are integrated into suburbs, towns, and cities across the United States — even moreso than McDonald's, coffee shops, grocery stores, 7-11s, and pharmacies.

To put things in perspective:

We define gun dealers according to two ATF classifications: "Dealer in firearms other than destructive devices (including gunsmiths)" and "pawnbroker in firearms other than destructive devices." If we were to include gun manufacturers, collectors, and importers, the national figure would be higher (132,799). Gun dealers would outnumber public schools (98,000 as of 2014).

There are a few caveats to this analysis. The data for gun stores is more recent than the data for other retailers. Also, not everyone with a license to sell guns actively sells them.

At the same time, these stats illuminate the size of the gun industry in the US, which is expected to gain $13 billion in sales this year, according to analysts at IBIS World.

The gun industry is thriving in the US, and firearm sales tend to spike after mass shootings. Many gun-store owners attribute the increases to worries about new gun regulations.

"Normally what happens — and I've been doing this for 30 years — is whenever they start talking about gun control on the news and they start pushing that, people have a tendency to think they're going to take away their right to buy the gun, and that usually spurs sales," Paul Decker, owner of Hunters Heaven in Virginia, told the Christian Science Monitor.

The opposite of a gun crackdown often happens, according to a 2016 research paper from Harvard’s Michael Luca, Deepak Malhotra, and Christopher Poliquin. They found that, between 1989 and 2014, the most probable policy response in states with Republican-controlled legislatures to a mass shooting was a loosening of gun laws by 75%. The researchers found no significant effect of mass shootings on state gun legislation in Democrat-controlled legislatures.

This helps explain why gun stores are so common in the US. When gun regulation is less strict, it creates opportunity for firearm sellers to launch more retailers.

RELATED: Las Vegas area after the shooting

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Around Las Vegas after the shooting
Las Vegas Boulevard remains closed near the mass shooing site at the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., October 2, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake
A man stands next to a bouquet of flowers along a pedestrian walkway looking towards where a mass shooing at the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival took place Monday night on the Las Vegas Strip in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., October 2, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 3: Law enforcement vehicles gather near one of the entrance points to the concert venue where Sunday night's mass shooting, October 3, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The gunman, identified as Stephen Paddock, 64, of Mesquite, Nevada, allegedly opened fire from a room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on the music festival, leaving at least 58 people dead and over 500 injured. According to reports, Paddock killed himself at the scene. The massacre is one of the deadliest mass shooting events in U.S. history. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 3: Las Vegas Blvd. remained closed to vehicular traffic near the scene of Sunday night's mass shooting, October 3, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The gunman, identified as Stephen Paddock, 64, of Mesquite, Nevada, allegedly opened fire from a room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on the music festival, leaving at least 58 people dead and over 500 injured. According to reports, Paddock killed himself at the scene. The massacre is one of the deadliest mass shooting events in U.S. history. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Las Vegas Boulevard lights-up with with signs for the victims and first responders after a mass shooing at the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., October 2, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman hosts a prayer vigil, in honor of those affected by the shooting on the Las Vegas Strip, in front of Las Vegas City Hall in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. October 2, 2017. REUTERS/Las Vegas Sun/Steve Marcus
A churches cross is lit by fading daylight as it towers over the scene in front of the stage following a mass shooing at the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival on the Las Vegas Strip in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., October 2, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake
People stand along a pedestrian walkway looking towards where a mass shooing at the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival took place last night on the Las Vegas Strip in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., October 2, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Women walk down the Las Vegas strip after roads were closed near the site of the Route 91 music festival mass shooting outside the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. October 2, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Las Vegas Boulevard lights-up with with signs for the victims and first responders after a mass shooing at the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., October 2, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Las Vegas residents Karen Stevens (L) and husband Mark Stevens attend a candlelight vigil at Las Vegas City Hall October 2, 2017, after a gunman killed at least 58 people and wounded more than 500 others when he opened fire on a country music concert in Las Vegas, Nevada late October 1, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Robyn Beck (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, USA - OCTOBER 02 : Mandalay Hotel is seen after a gunman attack in Las Vegas, NV, United States on October 02, 2017. At least 59 people were killed and more than 527 others wounded at a country music concert in the city of Las Vegas late Sunday night in the mass shooting. A gunman -- identified as Stephen Paddock -- opened fire on more than 10,000 concert-goers at an outdoor venue from across the Mandalay Bay Hotel at around 10.08 p.m. local time (0508GMT Monday), Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lambardo from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) told reporters. (Photo by Bilgin S. Sasmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, USA - OCTOBER 02: Police block the roads leading to the Mandalay Hotel (background) and inspect the site after a gunman attack in Las Vegas, NV, United States on October 02, 2017. At least 59 people were killed and more than 527 others wounded at a country music concert in the city of Las Vegas late Sunday night in the mass shooting. A gunman -- identified as Stephen Paddock -- opened fire on more than 10,000 concert-goers at an outdoor venue from across the Mandalay Bay Hotel at around 10.08 p.m. local time (0508GMT Monday), Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lambardo from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) told reporters. (Photo by Bilgin S. Sasmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
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