Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Gun Ownership In The United States

The NRA and right-wing gun-nuts have been saying that gun ownership is necessary to be free and for protection from criminal elements in this country. If those arguments were even remotely true, then it would be safe to say that most Americans either currently keep a gun in their home, or would like to do that. But that is simply not true.

The truth is that we live in one of the safest countries in the world, and keeping a gun in the home heightens the chance that someone in that home will die from use of a firearm (either by accident, suicide, or a domestic murder) -- and most Americans know that. There was a time in the past when most households owned a gun, but that time is long-passed.

As both the General Social Survey and the Pew Research Center survey (done in January and February of this year) show, only about a third of American households have a gun (34%). Gun ownership has dropped in each of the last several decades, and while there are about enough guns in our society for every citizen to have one, the truth is that that more than 300 million guns are owned by only a third of the population -- which means a lot of gun owners own several guns, while two-thirds of all Americans do not own or keep a gun in their home.

The chart above shows the demographic breakdown of gun ownership in the United States. Note that men, Whites, Republicans, Independents, those over age 50, those living in suburban and rural areas, and those living in the South and Midwest, and those with a child in the home, exceed the national average in gun ownership. While women, Blacks, Hispanics, those under age 50, Democrats, those living in an urban area, and those living in the Northeast and West, have an ownership percentage at or below the national average.

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