America’s “Complex” Relationship With Guns
New statistics from a survey
hHere are some stats for you to chew on. These new statistics come from a survey administered by the Pew Research Center and announced in late June. The survey spoke to 3,930 US adults including 1,269 gun owners, between March 13 and March 27 and April 4 to April 18, 2017. We know…that’s not a very large number of respondents. The people polled were from across the nation.
The comfort level with guns:
- 4 in 10 US adults say they live in a gun-owning household
- 57% say they live in a household with no guns at all
- 11% say they don’t currently own a gun but live with someone who does
- 48% of adults say they grew up in a household with guns
- 72% have shot a gun
- 36% say they don’t currently own a gun but would be open to owning one in the future
The discomfort with guns:
- 44% of US adults say they personally know someone who has been shot, either accidentally or intentionally
- 23% say they or someone in their family have been threatened or intimidated by someone using a gun
- 50% see gun violence as a very big problem in the US today
The difference between gun owners and non-gun owners:
- 66% of gun owners own multiple firearms
- 73% say they could never see themselves without owning a gun
- 49% of gun owners say that all or most of their friends own guns
- out of those who did not own guns, only 1 in 10 people said that most or all of their friends own guns
The differences in the sexes:
- Men who grew up in a household with guns and who have ever shot a gun report that they first fired a gun when they were, on average, 12 years old.
- Among women who grew up in gun-owning households and who have ever shot a gun, they didn’t fire their first gun until they were 17
- Men tend to become gun owners at age 19
- Women tend to become gun owners at age 27
The difference in race:
- 48% of white men say they own a gun
- 24% of white women and nonwhite men own guns
- 16% of nonwhite women own guns
The difference in education:
- 41% of whites without a bachelor’s degree are gun owners
- 26% of whites with at least a bachelor’s degree are gun owners
Urban versus rural:
- 46% of people who live in rural areas say they own a gun
- 28% of adults who live in the suburbs own a gun
- 19% of adults in urban areas own a gun
Why they own guns:
- 74% of gun owners say their right to own guns is essential to their personal sense of freedom
- Only 35% of non-gun owners said owning a gun is essential to their personal sense of freedom
- 50% of all gun owners say owning a gun is important to their overall identity
- 25% of all gun owners say owning a gun is very important while 25% called it somewhat important to their overall identity
- 3 out of 10 gun owners say owning a gun is not too important to their identity and 20% say it’s not at all important
- 66% say protection is their primary reason for owning a gun
- 38% say they own guns for hunting, while 33% say they shoot targets, trap and skeet
- 13% say they are collectors
- 8% say they own guns because of their job
- 44% offered more than one reason for owning a gun, meaning that many of their answers overlapped
- 8 out of 10 gun owners say they don’t mind if other people know they own a gun, but they don’t set out to tell them
- 14% say they’d rather other people not know that they have a firearm
- 6% actively do want others to know they are gun owners
- 52% say they go shooting or to a gun range often or sometimes
- 34% go hunting
- 24% attend gun shows at least sometimes
- 39% report that they at least sometimes watch TV shows and videos about guns
- 35% visit websites about guns, hunting or other shooting sports.
- 10% at least sometimes participate in online forum discussions about guns
- 58% of men who own guns say they go shooting or to a gun range at least sometimes, compared with 43% of female gun owners. Men also hunt at higher rates than women and watch more gun-oriented TV shows or videos.
Where are the guns?
- 38% say there is a gun that is both loaded and easily accessible to them all of the time when they’re at home. Men are especially likely to have a loaded gun at the ready: 43% of male gun owners vs. 29% of women who own guns say a loaded gun is always easily accessible
- 72% say they own a pistol or handgun
- 62% say they own a rifle
- 54% own a shotgun
- Among those who own a handgun, about one-in-four (26%) say they carry their gun with them outside of their home all or most of the time, a share that rises to 41% among those who think of their local community as unsafe
Guns and children:
- 95% of all gun owners believe that talking to children about gun safety is essential
- 66% say all guns should be kept in a locked place when there are children living in the home
- 59% say gun owners who are parents should take a gun safety course.
The majority of Americans who don’t own guns feel it is also essential for gun owners with children living in the home to keep their guns unloaded and in a separate spot from the ammunition. Gun owners disagree. Majorities say these measures are either important but not essential or not important, even in households with children.
- 54% of gun owners with children under 18 living at home say all of the guns in their home are kept in a locked place and all are unloaded (53%)
- 30% of gun owners with children in the home say there is a gun that is both loaded and easily accessible to them all of the time when they’re at home
The following charts indicate how far apart the views of gun owners versus non-gun owners and Republicans and Democrats are on policy matters:
- Half of Americans describe gun violence as a very big problem in the United States. While a majority of those who do not own guns (59%) see gun violence as a major problem in the country today, a third of adults who own guns say this is a very big problem. Democrats and Republicans also offer different assessments, with Democrats far more likely to describe gun violence as a very big problem, and the partisan divide remains when controlling for gun ownership.
- 86% say the ease with which people can illegally obtain guns contributes to gun violence a great deal or a fair amount
- 74% say family instability, lack of economic opportunities (65%), the amount of gun violence in video games (60%), the ease with which people can legally obtain guns (60%), and the amount of gun violence in movies and television (55%) is the problem
- Two-thirds of non-gun owners see the ease with which people can legally obtain guns as contributing at least a fair amount to gun violence; less than half (44%) of gun owners share this view.
- 56% vs. 29% of non-gun owners versus gun owners say further restricting legal gun sales would result in fewer mass shootings
- Non-gun owners are also more likely to say an increase in gun ownership would lead to more crime overall (44% vs. 13%)
- 54% of gun owners say there would be less crime if more people owned guns
- 33% say it wouldn’t make much difference
So there you go folks. That’s not every single statistic that the Pew survey reported, but it’s most of them. You can read the whole report right here.