Thursday, June 30, 2016

Gun ownership in U.S. lowest in 40 years, but gun sales are at record levels, as gun owners stock up

Gun ownership in the U.S. is at its lowest in 40 years, but gun purchases are at recorded highs, according to surveys and government background checks, Christopher Ingraham reports for The Washington Post. A CBS News poll found that 36 percent of adults either own a gun or live with someone who does. That's the lowest since polling began in 1978. An October Gallup poll has gun ownership at 43 percent and a 2014 General Social Survey says 32 percent. Gallup shows a 10 percent drop in gun ownership since peak levels 10 years ago, while the General Social Survey finds a 20 percent drop since the mid-1970s. Rural residents are twice as likely as urban ones (39 percent to 18 percent) to own guns, says the Pew Research Center.

FBI firearm background checks show that gun sales are at historic highs and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms says "gun manufacturers are churning out record numbers of guns," Ingraham writes. While gun advocates cite increased ownership, data show "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." (Post graphic)
"Other research bears this out as well," Ingraham writes. "A 2004 survey found that the average gun owner owned 6.6 firearms, and that the top 3 percent of gun owners owned about 25 guns each. More recently, a CBS News poll taken in March of this year found that roughly one in five gun owners owned 10 guns or more." (Read more)

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