Handguns Increasingly Bought for Home Security

New study points to popularity of handguns.

hand firing a handgun with bullet casing shooting out and flash

The New York Times just posted an article examining gun ownership in the United States. The article was in response to the study we posted about  that said just 3% of Americans say that they own nearly half of the nation’s guns.

The study reports that handguns make up 42% of the guns in the United States that are privately owned. This number is up from 34% in 1994. In 1994, 34% of the guns Americans owned were handguns, 36% were rifles. 26% were shotguns and 4% were other guns. In 2015, 42% are handguns, 33% are rifles 20% are shotguns and again, 4% was other.

What I want to know is, if the number of rifles owned in the US went down, what happened to the guns themselves? Were they melted down? Destroyed? Just a curious thing abut the numbers that isn’t explained. Regardless, Americans are more interested in the smaller handguns, which are more suited for self-defense because they’re easier to conceal, and are also suitable for hunting and shooting sports.

The article says that the survey responses gave 6 top reasons for gun ownership. 63% wanted them for protection against other people. 20% wanted them for protection against animals. 40% said they owned their guns for hunting and 28% for sporting use. 34% said their guns were part of a collection. 40% said their guns were owned for “other” purposes. Those “other” reasons aren’t explained, and again, that’s something I’m curious about. If not self defense or hunting, then are those the people who are worried they won’t be able to buy guns in the future and are exercising their right while they still can? It seems likely, but I’m open to hearing other possible explanations. What else could explain 40% of the people who answered the survey saying they used their guns for something other than self-defense, hunting or collecting?

One of the reasons that the newer study that we’ve referenced above is considered more conclusive is because In 1994, participants could select just one reason for ownership. In the more recent survey, obviously, they could choose several reasons for their gun ownership. In 1994, 46 percent of respondents chose protection as the primary reason to own a gun. Twenty years later, 63 percent of respondents chose that reason.

While the percentage of households with guns has declined to 22 percent from 25 percent, the net numbers of guns and gun owners have gone up. In 1994, about 44 million Americans owned 192 million guns. Today, about 55 million Americans own 265 million guns. the number that a lot of media outlets focused on is that about half of the nation’s guns are owned by 3 percent of the population. These so-called ” super-collectors” are mostly male, white, older than 30, from rural areas and have an annual income above $25,000.