by Dave Workman | Senior Editor
Using data from a mid-June CBS News opinion poll, the Washington Post reported that gun ownership in the United States is on the decline, with only 36 percent of respondents reporting that they live in households where guns are present.
However, the newspaper acknowledged that FBI background checks “are at historic highs” and that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives reported that gun manufacturers “are churning out record numbers of guns.” The story also noted that Second Amendment advocates contend that gun ownership is actually expanding, and some suggested that the reason the poll gets it wrong is that gun owners are simply not admitting to pollsters they have guns.
A look around the country shows that concealed carry applications are continuing to rise. During the first six months of this year, Washington State, for example, added more than 36,000 new concealed pistol licenses. Arizona reported more than 21,500 new permits between the end of January and the end of June, a five-month period. In Florida, concealed carry licenses have topped 1.5 million, and Texas also recently reported more than 1 million carry permits.
Some reports claim that there are now over 14 million Americans licensed to carry. In addition, about a half dozen states no longer require licenses for concealed carry by non-prohibited legal residents over the age of 21.
Following the terror attacks in Paris, San Bernardino and Orlando, anecdotal evidence suggests that more people rushed to gun stores for the first time. One newspaper account in Colorado said this was especially noticeable in the LGBT community, possibly in reaction to the fact that the Orlando attack zeroed on a nightclub called The Pulse that catered to gays.
The Washington Post asserted that declining rates of gun ownership across three major national surveys suggest that most of the rise in gun purchases following those events was because “existing gun owners (were) stocking up, rather than by people buying their first gun.”
Gun rights activists on social media said “not so fast.” There is another explanation that, to them, makes perfect sense. Gun owners responding to such polls are simply lying to the pollsters about gun ownership.
First-time gun owners, some critics suggested, are reluctant to acknowledge they have bought firearms because they worry about social ostracism.
The CBS poll was taken from among 1,001 Americans after the Orlando massacre that left 49 people dead and more than 50 injured. There was an interesting demographic breakdown with 426 respondents identified as independents, 320 as Democrats but only 255 Republicans.
The Post said that the 36 percent figure suggested “the lowest rate of gun ownership in the CBS poll going back to 1978. It’s down 17 points from the highest recorded rate in 1994, and nearly 10 percentage points from 2012.”