Tuesday, September 20, 2016
HOUSEHOLD GUN OWNERSHIP IN THE U.S.
Gun control groups and much of the media are touting polls suggesting gun ownership and the percentage of homes with guns is going down. They do a nice job of cherry-picking the data they like.Not all surveys show a significant decrease in gun ownership or the percentage of households with guns.
There is no definitive data source from the government or elsewhere on how many Americans own guns or how gun ownership rates have changed over time. Also, public opinion surveys provide conflicting results: Some show a decline in the number of households with guns, but another does not.
The General Social Survey (GSS), conducted roughly every two years by the independent research organization NORC at the University of Chicago, with principal funding from the National Science Foundation, provides a widely-used look at the rate of gun ownership over time. The GSS data show a substantial decline in the shares of both households and individuals with guns. When the GSS first asked about gun ownership in 1973, 49% reported having a gun or revolver in their home or garage. In 2012, 34% said they had a gun in their home or garage. When the survey first asked about personal gun ownership in 1980, 29% said a gun in their home personally belonged to them. This stands at 22% in the 2012 GSS survey.
The Pew Research Center has tracked gun ownership since 1993, and our surveys largely confirm the General Social Survey trend. In our December 1993 survey, 45% reported having a gun in their household; in early 1994, the GSS found 44% saying they had a gun in their home. A January 2013 Pew Research Center survey found 33% saying they had a gun, rifle or pistol in their home, as did 34% in the 2012 wave of the General Social Survey.
The Gallup Organization has been tracking gun ownership in their surveys over this time period as well, but their trend suggests no consistent decline. A Gallup survey in May 1972 found 43% reporting having a gun in their home. The percentage subsequently fluctuated a great deal, reaching a high of 51% in 1993 and a low of 34% in 1999 – but the percentage saying they had a gun in their home last year was the same as it was 40 years earlier (43%)."