30 June 2016

A surprising graph of American gun ownership

The percent of American households owning guns is at a near-40 year low in the latest CBS News poll released this month. According to the survey, which was conducted among 1,001 Americans in the aftermath of the Orlando nightclub shooting, 36 percent of U.S. adults either own a firearm personally, or live with someone who does. That's the lowest rate of gun ownership in the CBS poll going back to 1978. It's down 17 points from the highest recorded rate in 1994, and nearly 10 percentage points from 2012.

Different national polls tend to show slightly different rates of gun ownership... But the downward trend in gun ownership remains consistent across the national polls.

But gun purchases, as measured by FBI firearm background checks, are at historic highs... Many gun rights advocates argue that these figures mean that the overall number of gun owners is growing... But the declining rates of gun ownership across three major national surveys suggest a different explanation: that most of the rise in gun purchases is driven by existing gun owners stocking up, rather than by people buying their first gun. A Washington Post analysis last year found that the average American gun owner now owns approximately eight firearms, double the number in the 1990s.
More details at The Washington Post.


  1. Alternative explanation - gun owners are not interested in telling pollsters they are gun owners.

    As a general policy I will not confirm or deny gun ownership. It is a private issue and none of your business if you call me asking about it.

    If I say to a pollster that I own guns I have just told a stranger that at my home is a valuable item that many people might want to steal. Why do that?

    Add to that the sense that many gun owners have (rightly or wrongly) that to be put on a list (any list) as a 'gun owner' might make them a target for confiscation... it's no wonder that they don't say they are gun owners.

    Recent events (brexit) have shown that polls are not as accurate as they once were.

    1. I warrant less people are openly identifying themselves as gun owners becasue it's no one's business but their own if they are.

      Yet,I know an awful lot of households with at least one gun, hard to imagine I live in a pocket of 90%+ gun ownership if the national figure of 36% is accurate.

    2. I'm very much a non-activist in political life, but I make an exception on this issue and openly talk about my gun ownership. There's a clear effort by unsavory elements of our society to make guns pornographic. Eat a Pop-Tart into the shape of a gun? You get suspended from school. Wear a t-shirt with a picture of a gun on it? Someone calls the police.

      The overall effort is to make gun ownership appear shameful and guns or anything related to them obscenities.

      That's why I talk about guns openly around my kids. They know what Daddy is doing when he uncases his gun and goes to the range. They see me cleaning it. And I tell them that when they're old enough, they'll get the chance to learn how to use guns themselves.

      My hope is that they will see guns as normal as they grow up. They don't need to be poisoned by hoplophobia from the surrounding toxic culture.

    3. Yeah John, good for you. there is a propaganda war being waged in regards to firearms ownership and our rights. It isn't hard to see people accuse anyone defending the rights of other people to keep and bear arms as some sort of mental degenrate want to be serial killer.
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      v v v

    4. It's not the guns that people think are shameful, it's the mass murders. Those tragedies aren't anti gun propaganda, they're a sad and increasingly frequent part of life. Guns make their own anti gun propaganda.
      I used to be reasonable, think that a little regulation and some public safety measures would allow normal people (the majority, no doubt) to own guns for sport & hunting. But after Sandy Hook, I'm a changed person. If we can't all act like adults, acknowledge that there's a problem & work out some middle ground... if you're going to push me to accept gun ownership as some unalienable human right, then forget it! Get rid of all guns. Take them away from everyone. Make them illegal.
      Gun owners: don't complain to the rest of us about being villanized, it's on you to keep the public safe by being responsible with your dangerous toys. If you can't do that, then expect the rest of us to push for regulations that ensure public safety.

    5. 99.999% of gun owners ARE responsible. And quite a few HAVE kept the public safe. It's the criminals and rare few lunatics that are the problem.

      No one is against any laws/regulation that prevent criminals/lunatics from possessing a firearm. It's why we have thousands of local/state/federal gun control laws already. The issue is, how to prevent firearms from falling into the hands of those criminals & lunatics without restricting the rights of lawful citizens. You do not address crime & violence by diminishing the rights of the law-abiding.

      No one has offered any solution(s) that satisfy both requirements. In fact, no one has proposed anything post-Sandy Hook that would achieve either of those prerequisites.

      And until someone offers a solution that can accomplish both I am, and will continue to be, adamantly against any solution that treats me as if I am in the same category as a criminal/lunatic.

  2. No one "stocks up" on guns. They amass arsenals. And these arsenals, in their sick little imaginations are to allow them to someday live out their Rambo fantasies where, as the "good guy with a gun" will save the day or defeat an entire military. That bit of ammo-porn would be nothing more than a bad joke (yeah, you and your guns against an army, LOL--you'd both be a sticky smear on the pavement after the totalitarian government of your nightmares mortars your freaking house!) or a sick perversion ("This big penis-substitute makes me hard!) if these nutbag gun-fetishists didn't too often end up being mass murderers.

    1. Hardly Eagle, Plenty of folks just get bit by a collector's bug. They buy a gun for hunting or home defense and decide they would like another gun more readily made for the other task or possibly just for target shooting and then then start buying guns in different calibers for different tasks and then they start getting into other variations, next thing they know ten or twenty years after that first gun they have a whole heck of a lot of guns and never cultivated the notion of being rambo, dirty harry, a freedom fighter,or a mass murderer.

    2. You make a really good point. But what other "tasks" besides sport, protection & collecting are there?

  3. This really seems to have parallels with the anti-smoking movement. More people quitting, the remaining smokers getting more dug in, lots of noise and anger. And the increasing majority of non-smokers seeing how nice it is to breathe. Change in the air, I think.

  4. I had a 22 rifle lent to me by my dad's boss when I was 11-12. I used it for target shooting only, and got so good the adults were thinking there might be Olympic gold in my future. Then my dad said he was tired of spending all that money on bullets, so I should take care of garden pests--birds and rabbits. I took careful aim and shot a bird's head off. I put the gun away, my dad gave it back to his boss, and I've never touched a gun again. The reality of killing a living creature was life-changing for me.


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