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Old February 18, 2013, 09:37 AM   #1
UtopiaTexasG19
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Is The Percentage Of Gun Owners In The U.S. Really This Low?

On a local news report yesterday it was noted that only 20% of U.S. citizens actually own a fire arm. I know we have gone from a rural to metropolitan type society but is gun ownership this low? Everyone I know owns multiple pistols/rifles but I live out in the country and have few friends that live in a city limits.
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Old February 18, 2013, 09:39 AM   #2
TXAZ
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Did they quote a source? Is that legal or all ownership?
I expect it is MUCH higher in many states.

One other datapoint: Unless pollsters are very very careful, respondents often lie on surveys when asked questions those answering feel may hurt or embarrass them. Questions where disparities are expected include those asking about sexual proclivities, personal financial information, criminal activities, and personal safety and security including weapon ownership.
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Old February 18, 2013, 09:43 AM   #3
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The numbers I've seen generally are right around 40%, and based on the number of new buyers I've seen in local stores, and shooters I've seen at the local range, that is increasing quite a bit.
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Old February 18, 2013, 09:45 AM   #4
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It is hard to say what the real number is although I would wager it is higher than 20%. According to an old gallup poll I found 34% of Americans own firearms while I found a CNN article that reports 50% own a gun (I think this number is a bit high). I was not able to find any data from the ATF or FBI although somebody else may know where to look.

Whatever the number is, it does concern me a bit as I think there is a greater majority who do not own firearms as opposed to those who do. This doesn't look good for the future of the 2A and gun owners.
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Old February 18, 2013, 09:48 AM   #5
Brian Pfleuger
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Fascinatingly ignorant statistic for a news outlet to make....

A Oct 2011 Gallup poll indicated that firearms ownership by household was at it's highest point since 1993, at 47%.

Considering the buying that's happened since Dec 2012, does anyone believe it's lower today than 2011?

I don't see a SINGLE DEMOGRAPHIC under 23% by individual or a single household demographic under 36%.
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Old February 18, 2013, 10:08 AM   #6
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The other major factor that does not take into consideration is the vast number of illegal, unregistered, or otherwise questionable gun owners, including quite a few who want no one, particularly the government or the snoopy news people to know they own a gun.
Of course, a lot of the illegal owners are in favor of (law abiding citizen) gun control. It makes their intent easier.
Add the millions that are now buying, and you have a rather large percent of the population.
Remember, these polls are designed not to be accurate, but to support whatever agenda the pollster wants to promote.
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Old February 18, 2013, 10:15 AM   #7
Brian Pfleuger
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David13
Remember, these polls are designed not to be accurate, but to support whatever agenda the pollster wants to promote.
That is an overly broad and misleading statement. A given poll or pollster may have an agenda but that does not translate to a systemic conspiracy. Gallup is a respected polling organization. Most of their polling predictions fall within 3% or so of final outcomes, many times less.
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Old February 18, 2013, 10:21 AM   #8
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Chalk the 20% number up to the Brady Bunch. Their reports show individual ownership around 21%, although the all-time high since 1980 in their report was around 31%.
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Old February 18, 2013, 10:42 AM   #9
Brian Pfleuger
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The gallup polls shows 34% individual ownership.

It's interesting, because I've read that the estimated number of firearms in the US is about 270 million. 34% of individuals would be about 100 million. The implication being that the average gun owner owns 2.7 guns.
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Old February 18, 2013, 10:53 AM   #10
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Just curious...

Anybody got any idea the % of gun owners who won't tell some stranger who calls them on the phone that they own a gun?

What do you think, in this era of identity theft and data selling, how many people might be just a bit concerned that some unknown entity has data linking your phone# (and if they have that, they can get your address), with the information that someone at that # owns a gun (or more than one)?

I don't give that information out. Heck, even the NRA doesn't KNOW I own a gun, although I kind of think they assume I do....

The only poll that matters is the one we hold every so often in November. And sadly, I'm not as sure that one does, as I once was....
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Old February 18, 2013, 10:58 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David13
the vast number of illegal, unregistered, or otherwise questionable gun owners
I'm sure it was unintentional, but lumping unregistered guns in with illegal guns is umm... questionable. My guns are not registered, but neither are my knives, axes, chopping mauls, hammers, chisels or crowbars.
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Old February 18, 2013, 11:07 AM   #12
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I don't know what source that article is using, but as of December 2012 Gallup was reporting that 43% of U.S. households reported owning at least one firearm.

http://www.gallup.com/poll/1645/Guns.aspx
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Old February 18, 2013, 11:10 AM   #13
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I had a conversation recently about total gun ownership. The person I had it with owns firearms(inherited). When I asked if polled whether she would think to reply in the affirmative that she owns firearms, she said no. For her, they are out of sight, out of mind, they been packed away for years and she doesn't give them much thought. The question then becomes how common are situations like hers, where people technically own firearms, but don't think about themselves as firearm owners.
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Old February 18, 2013, 01:17 PM   #14
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Gallup is probably closest to accurate. The lower numbers are all from polling by gun control organizations - and are used to push the agenda/meme that gun culture and gun ownership are a dying thing of the past.

I can't imagine news organizations using numbers from an NRA sponsored poll. The poll numbers provided by the gun control advocates are ludicrous as even in the face of a huge increases in guns sales the last 4 years with many first time buyers they continue to claim a steady decrease in gun ownership. But none the less the media keep using their numbers as gospel.

The truth is that Gallup numbers are probably low - as has been stated in many areas of the country gun ownership has been stigmatized so people will sometimes deny owning guns when they do. Also there is the feeling amongst a portion of the gun community, as in those that buy guns only in private sales, that do not talk freely about owning guns to anyone that they do not know and trust. Those groups of individuals as well as those with an old family heirloom that they may forget about are all likely to say no to a survey and thus result in significant under counting.

Given roughly 30 plus some percent of individuals owning guns and the report of 40 plus some of households owning guns; a reasonable estimate of the number of gun owners in this country is give or take a few million about 100 million gun owners.

The number of guns owned is also problematic as it is also highly susceptible to under counting. Think about it - some gun owners on here couldn't tell you off the top of their head how many guns they own, some don't tell their spouse or family or friends how many guns they own. Some of the survey reports answers are based on the reports of members of the household other than the actual gun owner. How many times if asked "how many guns do you have?" have you yourself said or heard someone else say in response - "a couple" - "a few" - "oh, one or two." Yes, some gun owners will talk expansively about the guns they own, but just as many if not more, especially to a stranger on the phone will minimize and under report.

The estimate of 270 million is from the small arms survey last done in 2007, so there has been 5 to 6 years of Gun sales between then and now. There have been well over 70 million NICS checks from 2007 through 2012.

http://www.businessinsider.com/numbe...h-year-2012-12

Even conservatively estimating that half those checks were for used firearms and that they only represent one gun sold for each transaction (some are multiple sales) that would be another 35 million guns.

So it is safe to say there are more than 300 million guns and probably multiples of millions more in private hands today.

The above combined with over 8 million licensed CCW holders, not counting the states that don't require a license and those that allow open carry, along with reports of increased female participation in hunting, shooting sports, CCW applications, and reports of increased CCW applications across the board all argue that the number of Americans who own and use guns is not decreasing like gun control advocates claim - but is actually increasing.

Anecdotally, I am aware of friends and acquaintances of a generally liberal persuasion who own guns but would not acknowledge such to friends or co-workers as it is not PC in their work and peer group. I only know because I am a "gun guy" and they have talked to me on the QT about buying a gun or getting another gun, etc... Heck just think of all the news stories over the years of prominent gun control advocates involved in problems where it becomes public knowledge that despite their advocacy they personally own guns.

Just another example of the media reporting what they want to be true instead of actually investigating the facts to get to the truth. Widespread gun ownership would hinder the agenda of gun control advocates to further stigmatize gun ownership as an increasingly aberrant and irrelevant cultural artifact of the past that needs to disappear so "modern civilized society" may move on.

This is the same reason that gun control or gun ban advocates studiously ignore or do all in their power to minimize defensive gun use.
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Old February 18, 2013, 01:47 PM   #15
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Anybody got any idea the % of gun owners who won't tell some stranger who calls them on the phone that they own a gun?
That's a huge factor. Most gun owners I know are the sorts who want nothing to do with polls or surveys on any issue.

Actually, come to think of it, who even answers those things nowadays?

It also depends on how questions are asked. I once read an article contrasting Kleck's study on DGU's vs. a similar study done by the DOJ. Kleck's study made it clear that phone numbers were generated randomly and that they didn't know the name or address of the person they were calling. Folks felt more comfortable responding to that than, "hi, I'm Jim from the Department of Justice, and we'd like to know about your guns."
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Old February 18, 2013, 02:27 PM   #16
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On a local news report yesterday it was noted that only 20% of U.S. citizens actually own a fire arm.
Well, my first question is if this is the % of gun owners of citizens as stated or of citizens who can legally own guns cause those are two very different pools of people.

Right off the bat there are how many citizens who can't own a gun cause they are too young? How many are prohibited possessors?
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Old February 18, 2013, 09:16 PM   #17
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+1 for Tom Servo

Quoting Tom Servo: "Most gun owners I know are the sorts who want nothing to do with polls or surveys on any issue."

It wouldn't be the first time a poll was skewed by respondents, pro or con.
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Old February 18, 2013, 10:13 PM   #18
wayneinFL
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If they're polling individual ownership, it might be closer to 20%. Household owneeship could be higher.

There are 6 people in my house, but only one of us technically owns a gun. My family is less than 17% gun ownership individually, but 100% on household ownership.
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Old February 20, 2013, 12:59 AM   #19
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Anybody got any idea the % of gun owners who won't tell some stranger who calls them on the phone that they own a gun?
There might be a 'dynamic' at play here. (I'd say paradigm shift but I can't spell paradigm.)

A long time ago when I was a young person if you were ever polled you felt kind of special. If someone asked you a question you tried to give them an honest answer.

In the last few elections we get 'polled' so often it's become an irritation instead of an honor and a lot of people I know just mess the the folk doing the polling for sport.

In 2012 one of my friends when asked how he was going to vote always answered 'Well now that would just spoil the surprise wouldn't it?' One of my wife's friends always answered in a vary serious tone that she was going to vote for the incumbent Bush. When she was told that Bush was not the president she said scornfully she knew 'that Bush' wasn't the president, the other one was. She got some pollsters hanging up on her.
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Old February 20, 2013, 02:57 PM   #20
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As a 14-15 year old, during the 2004 election, having the same legal name as my father, I enjoyed nothing better than engaging the ernest Young Democrats who called to poll Pops in some good old fashion crank calling.

Who says teenagers aren't politically active?

Further more, I was always instructed by Pops not go off talking about guns all willy-nilly to people I don't know. (TFL excluded of course) I would say that applies to most tele-pollsters.
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Old February 20, 2013, 03:20 PM   #21
chiefr
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Agree entirely with Mr Servo.
I have been called by surveyors myself & will often give some information but would never disclose whether I own firearms. Surveyers ask demographic and income info which I refuse to answer. Have no problems giving opinions on political issues which are the source of most surveys.
It is unfortunate that the second amendment is now a political issue when it should never be.
I for one do not trust main stream media.
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Old February 20, 2013, 03:40 PM   #22
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" A given poll or pollster may have an agenda but that does not translate to a systemic conspiracy. Gallup is a respected polling organization. Most of their polling predictions fall within 3% or so of final outcomes, many times less. "
while a conspiracy doesn't exist, how polls are presented are often one of the most politicized and biased element in public discourse.

there are also numerous biases against telling a pollster you have a weapon.

In this day and age of phishing you don't really know who is calling. It could be a burgler. After all the value of weapons just went up about 20%.

In this day and age of hacking and hactivism you are not in the least bit paranoid to think that data you give will be secure over a period of time.

Also lots of people would consider that private generally and answer negatively even if they have a legal weapon. After safety and use instructions my father hammered to me that you never tell anyone their are weapons in the home. Now he hammered that not out of a fear of the government, but out of concern for burglary, and probably when I was a teenager for my friends knowing. His weapons lessons are so firm in my mind that it remains second nature for that reason for me to say no, if anyone asks me.

Lastly lots so people will answer negatively due to social pressure. We know in the past there that there is a weird but consistent 2 to 5% evaporation for african American candidates between polling and voting. Some hypothesize that some amount of that was respondents concerned they would be though of as racists by the pollster on the other end of the phone.

So if some portion of owners feel some shame or feel they will be seen as outside the norms, even to an over the phone poll taker, they may report no weapon due to some stickiness for some portion of the population in the clear campaign of social shame that has been deployed as a tactic by the anti gunners.

Last edited by TDL; February 20, 2013 at 04:46 PM.
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