Just over one-in-four Americans who own a handgun carry a sidearm “all or most of the time” when they are outside the home, and that ratio jumps to slightly over 40 percent among people who live in what they consider an “unsafe community,” according to a newly-released Pew Research report.
The same survey revealed a “sharp drop since 2000” in support for tougher gun control laws. Back then, according to Pew, two-thirds of the people surveyed said they backed gun control measures, but that support has plummeted to just 51 percent, with 47 percent supporting gun rights.
Presently, more than 15 million Americans are licensed to carry across the states, according to a recent estimate from the Crime Prevention Research Center. That doesn’t count the gradually increasing number of people who openly carry.
Pew Research said about 30 percent of Americans own a firearm, and there are stark divisions between those who do and those who don’t.
Quite possibly the most eyebrow-raising revelation is this:
“One key and defining characteristic of gun owners is the extent to which they associate the right to own guns with their own personal sense of freedom – 74% of gun owners say this right is essential, compared with only 35% of non-gun owners who say the same.”
It is the kind of thing that makes the gun prohibition lobby cringe. How can they convince people to disarm when being armed gives people a “personal sense of freedom?” Translation: Firearms are a symbol of liberty in a nation populated by what many in the gun rights community consider “sheep.”
The survey found that about half of white men (48%) say they own a gun. They’re not part of the flock. Likewise, 24 percent of white and non-white women and non-white men also own guns, along with 16 percent of non-white women, Pew reported.
In June of last year, the Washington Post reported that gun ownership was in decline. The following month, the Daily Caller refuted that report, suggesting that gun control supporters may have been using “fuzzy math.”
Perhaps the best way to gauge gun ownership is via the FBI’s National Instant Check System (NICS) data and last year showed record numbers of background checks. Anti-gunners habitually claim that gun owners are merely buying more guns, but anecdotal evidence suggests otherwise, especially among women.
Also, in the WaPo story from one year ago, the newspaper acknowledged:
“Different national polls tend to show slightly different rates of gun ownership. The latest household gun ownership rate in the General Social Survey, in 2014, was 32 percent. The October 2015 Gallup survey showed a higher rate of 43 percent, including guns kept on property outside the home.”
It may be that some gun owners simply do not wish to acknowledge they have guns. That much came from the Pew survey, which noted, “Eight-in-ten 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, and 6% actively do want others to know.”
That amounts to 20 percent of gun owners who don’t care to have other people know they own a gun. One wonders how willing these people would be to tell a stranger on the telephone they own a firearm. Would you?