World gun ownership anti-record: Americans have more pistols than cars
Many Americans consider the right to bear arms sacred, viewing guns as a key to their identity and personal freedoms. Some keep weapons for protection, hunting, or sport, while others view weapons and the lax rules associated with them as a threat to life and safety. The recurring tragedies involving firearms contribute to a climate of fear in which these positions are reinforced. The edition told in more detail CNN.
Understanding gun ownership in the US can help with the debate about gun laws (or lack of them). However, getting an accurate picture is difficult because there is no definitive database of arms sales.
In this case, one should not rely on data from polls of think tanks and academic researchers, who differ somewhat in their estimates. However, there are some general trends that stand out.
Here's what polls say about who owns guns in the US.
White men have the highest rates of gun ownership
According to a 2017 survey by the Pew Research Center, three in 10 adults say they personally own a gun, and four in 10 say they live in a home where someone has a gun.
In general, gun owners are more often white and male. They are also more likely to live in rural areas and identify as Republicans.
About 48% of white men say they have a gun, according to a Pew poll. 24% of white women and 24% of non-white men said they had a gun. Women of color reported the lowest gun ownership rates at 16%.
According to Pew, about 44% of adults who identify as Republican or Republican supporters say they have a gun, while only 20% of those who identify as Democrat or Democratic supporter say they own a gun.
The location of a person also plays a role. A Pew poll found that 46% of rural residents said they had a gun, while only 28% of suburbanites and 19% of city dwellers own a gun. The US Northeast has the lowest gun ownership rates at 16%, while roughly a third of people in the South, Midwest, and West report personally owning a gun.
On the subject: Almost half of Americans live in homes with guns: this proportion has grown during the pandemic
There are also slight differences in weapon proficiency depending on the level of education. Those with a bachelor's degree or higher are less likely to own guns compared to those with only a high school education or just graduated from a college.
A person's upbringing can also affect gun ownership. About 67% of gun owners say they grew up in a gun-owning family.
There are more guns in the US than people.
The Swiss Small Arms Survey estimates that there are about 393 million privately owned firearms in the US, or, in other words, 120 guns for every 100 Americans, regardless of age. This is the highest rate of any country in the world and more than double that of the next country on the list.
At the same time, there are significantly fewer cars in the United States, according to data for 2019, there are 278 million of them.
However, studies show that most of these weapons belong to a minority of people.
Take, for example, a report published in 2017 by researchers at Harvard and Northeastern Universities. The authors estimate that of the 265 million privately owned firearms in the US, about half are owned by 3% of US adults. And while about half of gun owners own one or two guns, 8% of gun owners own 10 or more guns, which, according to the report, is about 40% of the total number of guns in the US.
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Another finding that supports this is that nationwide surveys show that the number of gun owners has declined slightly since the 1970s, while FBI audits show that firearms purchases are at an all-time high. This suggests that while the proportion of gun owners in the US as a whole is declining, gun owners are buying more and more of them.
Most gun owners say it's for their protection.
People own guns for a variety of purposes, and most gun owners say they own guns for more than one reason.
Protection is a motivator for the vast majority of people. An October 2021 Gallup poll found that 88% of gun owners cited crime protection as a reason to own a gun, while 70% cited target shooting and 56% cited hunting as well. Similarly, Pew found that two-thirds of gun owners cited protection as their top reason for gun ownership, while about four in 10 cited hunting and three in 10 sport shooting.
According to Pew, about three-quarters of gun owners consider a firearm the key to their freedom, and about half consider it important to their identity.
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