You, Me and the Other 97%

Just 3 percent of Americans own nearly half of the nation's guns.

Just 3 percent of Americans own nearly half of the nation's guns.

An interesting statistic recently surfaced about gun ownership in America. Turns out that just 3 percent of Americans own nearly half of the nation’s guns. A survey by Harvard and Northwestern universities shows that there are more gun owners than ever, but they still make up a very small share of the population. The Guardian called these 7.7 million gun owners “super owner,” who own between 8 and 140 guns apiece, 17 on average.

This survey asked people about the guns they owned, why they purchased them, and how the guns were stored, among other things. People who evaluated the study said it was the most statistically sound study of gun ownership since a landmark gun ownership survey was conducted in 1994.

These “super owners” turn out to be firearms instructors, gunsmiths, collectors, competitive shooters, and survivalists/readiness folks who are worried about gun confiscation by the government. The survey revealed that many of these guns are part of collections that are proudly displayed, while others are hoarded and hidden alongside emergency food and survival gear. There is no consensus on how many guns there are in the United States. This survey suggests 265 million guns, while in October 2015 the Washington Post published a number closer to 350 million.

Why is it that such a small percentage of the population owns the majority of these weapons? The survey did not attempt to answer that question. But, we know from past data on this subject that most gun owners once said they owned guns only for hunting. Today, a large number of people now say they keep guns to protect themselves, their families, and communities.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say there are a number of factors involved in this small percentage of gun owners. First of all, people who own guns and get to know guns realize that one gun is not a one-size-fits-all item. Even if you do want a gun for hunting, you will not use the same gun for shooting elk that you would use to shoot a quail. And vice versa. So, that’s two guns for the same “single” purpose of hunting, right there. If you want guns for home defense, the gun you carry in your cross-body holster is not necessarily the same gun you will keep in your bedroom for home defense, so again, different guns for different purposes. Once you get to know guns, you realize that even if you’re just target shooting at the range on weekends that shooting a handgun is very different than shooting a long gun, and shooting a 30-06 feels very different than shooting a .300 Winchester Magnum.

If you’re a readiness/prepper type, you likely feel that one gun is not enough. You may have guns of all calibers stashed here and there. In cae you can’t get ammunition for one type of gun anymore, you’re still covered with a variety of other guns.

Those have to account for at least some of the reasons. What do you think?