Firearms Survey Says 82.7% of Gun Owners Have Handguns

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According to the 2021 National Firearms Survey, nearly 83 percent of American gun owners have at least one handgun.

The overwhelming majority of gun owners in the United States—a whopping 82.7 percent—own handguns and an impressive 16 percent carry a defensive sidearm always, almost always or often.

These stats come from the 2021 National Firearms Survey Draft Report, prepared by William English, PhD, Georgetown University. This survey was conducted between Feb. 17 and March 23 of this year, by Centiment, a professional survey firm. It contains, wrote English, “what we believe is the largest sample of firearms owners every queried about their firearms ownership and firearms use in a scientific survey in the United States.”

Thousands of firearm owners (15,450) responded to the survey and proceeded through all of the questions, English noted in his text.

The survey found 31.1 percent of gun owners, “approximately 25.3 million adult Americans,” have used a gun in self-defense and a shot was never fired in a majority of those cases (81.9 percent). “Displaying a firearm or threatening to use a firearm…was sufficient,” the survey revealed.

This squares with reports in the National Rifle Association’s American Rifleman magazine and its “Armed Citizen” column over the years. Every year, there are “approximately 1.67 million defensive uses of firearms.”

Why is this important? Changing demographics of gun ownership in the U.S. just might be changing the narrative, if not the national attitude, about guns.

 

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Millions of Newbies

Millions of citizens bought firearms, such as this Kahr semi-auto, for the first time between January 2019 and April 2021.

It should come to no surprise that an estimated 7.5 million people “became first-time gun owners” between January 2019 and April 2021, according to a report in the Washington Examiner.

That figure may be on the conservative side. Other estimates go as high as 8 million new gun owners over the past 19 months, ignited by the COVID-19 pandemic panic, months of social unrest, violent rioting and cutting of police budgets and manpower in several agencies. When people started worrying about their safety, longer response times and other troubles, they fell back on the one thing many of them may previously have thought had outlived its usefulness: the Second Amendment.

The Examiner story referenced a Gallup poll updated 11 months ago, which found 32 percent of U.S. adults own a gun and 44 percent live in a household where a gun is present. Gallup says, “roughly two-thirds of Republicans live in gun-owning households, compared to just one-third of Democrats.”

The Washington Examiner story also revealed the New York Times ran a story headlined “Nothing Divides Voters Like Owning a Gun” in 2017. Among the things, this story reported the majority of voters in households where no gun was present voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016, with the exception of West Virginia and Wyoming.

Here’s another non-surprise: Pew Research reported in mid-September that 87 percent of non-gun-owning Democrats favor banning so-called “assault weapons.” Eighty -six percent of the same demographic favor banning “high-capacity magazines” that hold more than 10 cartridges.

This brings us back to the National Survey which says 48 percent of gun owners “have owned magazines that hold over 10 rounds.”

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Serious Question Raised

Pew Research also found that “a majority of Republicans who don’t own a gun (57%) say they favor creating a federal government database to track all gun sales, while 30% of Republicans gun owners say the same.”

Pair these figures with those above and it raises a question: Should non-gun owners even have a say in how firearms are regulated? If you don’t play the game, why should you make the rules?

Look on social media and see what non-gun owners don’t know about firearms. Members of Congress have become infamous for saying remarkably stupid things about guns. Perhaps the zenith of stupidity came from Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) several years ago when quizzed about barrel shroud by Tucker Carlson, then a correspondent with Fox News. When Carlson asked McCarthy in 2013 if she knew what a barrel shroud is, she admitted, “I actually don’t know what a barrel shroud is. I think it’s the shoulder thing that goes up.”

This is a barrel shroud, you know, the “shoulder thing that comes up,” according to Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy, the New York Democrat.

Presumably the 30.2 percent of gun owners who have owned an AR-15 or similar rifle—an estimated 24.6 million people, according to the National Firearms Survey—probably know what a barrel shroud is, and what it doesn’t do.

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Only Five Guns?

The 2021 National Firearms Survey says the average gun owner owns five firearms. There are places in northern Idaho, anywhere in Montana, Utah and Wyoming where such people might be seriously under-equipped.

I am acquainted with a fair number of folks across the West for whom five guns is a trip to the range. I once visited a friend in one of the above-mentioned states who had that many guns stacked in different corners of his home. Another acquaintance had five AR-15 rifles for different applications, in addition to an extensive collection.

“Gun control,” the Washington Examiner said, “despite polling well as a collection of general platitudes, is already a losing issue throughout the country. Each time someone becomes a first-time gun owner, the chances of passing the strict gun control measures that the gun control movement and the majority of the Democratic Party want to see implemented go down.”

Some People Clam Up

Maybe some people fib to pollsters about gun ownership because they figure it’s nobody’s business if they own one or more of these.

An acknowledgement in the 2021 National Firearms Survey Draft Report probably reminds every reader of someone they know.

“One of the challenges in asking questions about firearms is eliciting truthful responses from firearms owners who may be hesitant to reveal information about practices that are associated with public controversy,” the report noted.

A few lines later, the report said, “For example, when (researchers) conducted a telephone survey of Michigan residents who had purchased a hunting license or registered a handgun, only 87.3 percent of the handgun registrants and 89.7 percent of hunting license holders reported having a gun in their household.”

Many gun owners simply think it’s nobody’s business what they own. Consequentially, this survey might be a little light on the data when it says “About a third of adults in the U.S. report owning a firearm, totaling about 81.4 million adult gun owners.” That figure breaks down to 57.8 percent men and 42.2 percent women.

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