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22 Nov, 2023 16:27

More Americans own guns than ever before – poll

The percentage of people who say someone in their household owns a firearm is up ten points from ten years ago
More Americans own guns than ever before – poll

Gun ownership has reached a record high among American voters, according to an NBC poll published Tuesday. More than half of respondents (52%) reported that they or someone in their household owned a gun.

That percentage is the highest since NBC began asking the question in 1999.

Gun ownership rates have risen sharply over the past decade, the poll suggests, with just 42% of those surveyed in 2013 claiming they or another household member possessed a firearm. That number was up to 49% by 2019. 

Republicans are significantly more likely than Democrats or independents to own guns, with two-thirds of Republican voters reporting a gun in the household compared to just 41% of Democrats and 45% of independents. Still, the percentage of Democrats who said they or a family member had a firearm increased 11 points over the last decade.

Black voters have seen the biggest increase in gun ownership since the poll was last conducted in 2019 – from 24% to 41% – while the increase among white voters was minimal (53% vs 56%). 

Attitudes were split about gun control, with 47% stating they believed the government would go too far in restricting Americans’ Second Amendment right to bear arms, while 48% said they feared the government would do too little to regulate firearms.

With personal safety topping the list of reasons Americans give for owning a gun, surging violent crime rates across the nation are believed to have contributed to the increase in firearm ownership. A 2021 Gallup poll found 88% of respondents said they owned a gun “for protection against crime,” a significant increase over the 67% who answered similarly when the question was asked in 2005.

The US has the highest rate of gun ownership in the world and is the only nation known to have more guns than people, according to Swiss research project the Small Arms Survey. It also has the highest rate of gun homicides.

Gun control advocates argue for a cause-and-effect relationship between the two statistics. However, the gun homicide rate in Washington, DC is the highest in the US and cities like Chicago regularly see over a dozen gun deaths per week, despite strict gun control laws in both cities.

The issue continues to polarize the nation as President Joe Biden continues to campaign for a ban on assault weapons – even though a study by the RAND Corporation found no evidence such a ban would reduce gun violence or homicide rates.

This year has seen 609 mass shootings, according to gun control advocacy group the Gun Violence Archive, which defines the term as an incident where four victims were shot, either injured or killed, not including the shooter. Most recently, a gunman opened fire at a Walmart in Beavercreek, Ohio on Monday, injuring four people before turning the weapon on himself.