CPRC at Fox News: “Is gun ownership really down in America?”

12 Mar , 2015  


John Lott’s newest piece at Fox News:

Is gun ownership falling? The answer is yes, at least if you believe a new General Social Survey (GSS) by the National Opinion Research Center (NORC). Supposedly, since the late 1970s, the percentage of homes with a gun has fallen from approximately 50 percent to 32 percent.  “The number of Americans who live in a household with at least one gun is lower than it’s ever been,” reported Emily Swanson of the Associated Press.

Time magazine also points to a PEW Research survey that has done a couple much more limited surveys that suggest a similar drop in gun ownership over time.

But those claims are likely overblown.

Surely, gun control advocates such as GSS director Tom Smith view this decline as a good thing.  In a 2003 book of mine, I quoted Smith as saying that the large drop in gun ownership would “make it easier for politicians to do the right thing on guns” and pass more restrictive regulations.

Other gun control advocates have mentioned to me that they hope that if people believe fewer people own guns, that may cause others to rethink their decision to own one themselves.  It is part of the reason they dramatically exaggerate the risks of having guns in the home.

The Associated Press and Time ignored other polls by Gallup and ABC News/Washington Post.  These polls show that gun ownership rates have been flat over the same period.  According to Gallup, household gun ownership has ranged from 51 percent in 1994 to 34 percent in 1999. In 2014, it was at 42 percent – comparable to the 43-45 percent figures during the 1970s. . . . .

The rest of the piece is available here.

Jack Linshi at Time magazine notes:

. . . John Lott have also pointed to data showing a rise in the number of concealed handgun permits issued by various states, supporting Gallup’s findings that gun ownership may be increasing or remaining steady. . . .



3 Responses

  1. pj says:

    That is false because I have seen many in gun shops waiting for background checks, also I have herd
    that it takes about an hour or more to receive those checks. It is virtually impossible to get 22 ammo and
    some other ammo. So I think this is false info if gun ownership was down.

  2. Jeff says:

    Besides the clear need to “consider the source” of any polls or “studies”, I always hope most people are aware of the ways these polls are designed. Besides the language used in the poll questions, I have to wonder about the who. what, where, when and why of those polled,

    What weights were given to those participating? I’ll bet I could get the numbers ‘way down by asking college students in MA, CT, MD, or CA about gun ownership. In those states, answering a phone survey would hardly be accurate even if they were all NRA members!

  3. nancy bennett says:

    Perhaps a more telling perspective would be the % of households with any type of firearm. Those willing to say so to the Gallup Poll during 2011 added up to 47% overall nationwide, up from previous years. Some variance by region is likely the result of restrictive gun laws in such states as NY, NJ and CA. Even so, 47% translates to nearly a gun in every other household.
    As a firearms instructor, I feel the “we’ll never own a gun” families need this information. My point is that every kid needs gun safety education, regardless of his/her parents’ personal decisions. Guns are out there, and ignorance can be deadly.

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