World's Largest Standing Army

I was scrolling through my various Facebook feeds some time ago and came across a post from a friend where they shared a link to a bloggers research as it pertained to standing armies. It was dated information insofar as it was using 2014 hunting license information. Essentially, the blogger stated that the State of Wisconsin fielded over 600k hunters and thereby became the world’s 8th largest standing army in the world during hunting season that year. The writer then drew the comparison that just the hunters in that specific state represented a larger standing army than Iran. They also stipulated that it was also a larger standing army than France and Germany combined.

I’m sorry… what!?!

Needless to say, I was astounded and intrigued by the bloggers precept so, of course, I had to do a little research on this topic and try and relate it to something pertinent in today’s news cycles… Basically, to begin my research I started simply and just googled the term/phrase ‘national hunting license information’. To my surprise, it yielded some decent results. I chose a link titled National Hunting License Report FY2017 and was presented with a pdf file compiled by the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

First, let me say, all I saw on my friends Facebook post was a graphic and some text (think meme) so I’m not entirely sure why the blogger chose Wisconsin. My guess would be that he/she lived there. Regardless, all things considered, Wisconsin is not even the largest ‘standing hunter army’ in the US. That honor, unsurprisingly, belongs to Texas. Here’s the top 10 (by license) in the United States:

  1. 1,148,765 – Texas
  2. 984,637 – Pennsylvania
  3. 719,850 – Michigan
  4. 717,256 – Tennessee
  5. 700,843 – Wisconsin
  6. 620,740 – Georgia
  7. 573,712 – North Carolina
  8. 572,992 – New York
  9. 564,694 – Minnesota
  10. 548,829 – Alaska

Unfortunately, the data was in PDF format and therefore unsortable (see image below). I would have been interested to see per capita data for each state as the result would have moved more rural states closer to the top of the list. C’est la vie.

2017 Hunting Licenses.png

Out of curiosity, how many states would it take to make the largest standing army in the world? Well, here’s what Wikipedia has for data on other countries (active military):

2017 Standing Armies.png

Ok, the United States is a respectable 3rd in terms of active military. Given the populations of China and India respectively, that’s a heck of a trick. I find the reserve and paramilitary numbers to be dubious, but I’m a researcher at heart so let’s carry this out to its conclusion given the data we have.

If you parse the data for reserve forces, the United States is 11th. For Paramilitary (defined as forces that are armed but not part of the nation’s formal military??), we are 62nd. If you take all three sets together (active, reserve, paramilitary), we stand as the 7th largest army in the world. The largest, interestingly enough, is an ally in South Korea with 8,134,500.

So 8.1M is the number to beat… how many states, and which states, could turn the tide of a South Korean invasion… (logistics of crossing the Pacific notwithstanding). Well, our top 10 most heavily armed states (noted previously), brings us quickly to 7,152,318. This is roughly a million short of the S. Korean forces. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that our data is strictly limited to hunting licenses. Meaning, it doesn’t account for people that actually own a firearm but don’t hunt (we’ll get to that in a minute). OK, so we are at 7.1M with our top-ten states. If you add in the 2,227,200 actual military oriented forces we have at our disposal, we clear 9.3M. We win.

Now, as for the topic of total firearms. It is estimated that there are over 350 million guns in the United States. If you add up all of the hunting license issued in all 50 states for FY2017, you have 15,486,123. That’s roughly 22 guns per registered hunter.

Just looking over these numbers and several things are brought into sharp focus.

  • ~350,000,000 firearms in the US
  • 15,486,123 registered hunters in the US (FY2017)
  • 22.6 firearms per registered hunter
  • 42% of all US households possess a firearm
  • 2,227,200 total military forces
  • 21,800,000 military veterans

What type of situation would have to occur for these numbers to be activated? What would it take for people to pick up a weapon and defend themselves, their property, their nation?

Honestly, any nation that would willingly bring a standing army to bear against 20M, 30M, or 50M armed citizens protecting their own country would be a costly, foolish, and bloody endeavor. Second, just the logistics of trying to bring millions of foreign forces to our shores is so remote as to be comical. So that leaves domestic actors or a foreign actor with a long-range entry into the equation (EMP, nuclear).

To me, our biggest threat is/are domestic actor(s).

Don’t believe me?

They are all over the news right now trying to convince you that it’s better to revoke the Second Amendment and disarm everyone than to address mental health, poor parenting, and the avoidance of personal responsibility. These are the same folks that think socialism ‘is cool’, Che Guevara is hip, tide pods are tasty, and condoms are meant to be snorted. I wish I was joking about any of that.

Is it possible for mature adults on both sides of the gun control argument, or any topic/argument for that matter, to sit down and discuss the issues? Sure. Do I see it happening anytime soon? Nope. Not as long as the sky screaming, breath holding, foot stomping, foul mouthed, immature temper tantrum rhetoric continues.