Gun Ownership at 40 Year Low with Record Gun Sales?

Gun Ownership at 40 Year Low with Record Gun Sales?

In my last article I included a quote from Andrei Berman, a spokesman for Michael Bloomberg’s anti-gun group Everytown for Gun Safety, who thinks that gun manufacturers are using fear tactics to sell to minorities because gun ownership is the lowest it has been in 40 years.

Now, I never take anything these people say seriously, but his claim about gun ownership was pretty shocking. As soon as I read his reasoning I had to do a google search. And I learned two things:

1. There have been record gun sales for 16 consecutive months, which means a year-over-year record has been set every month since May 2015. There were 1,853,815 individual background checks processed through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System in August, beating out last year’s record. And there have been 17,880,475 background checks this year. A lot of people are looking to buy guns.

2. All of the polls indicate that gun ownership is at a 40 year low. According to the latest CBS poll, 36 percent of U.S. adults own a firearm or live with someone who does. This is the lowest rate measured in the CBS poll going back to 1978, and down from the highest rate of ownership in 1994, which was 53 percent. Gallup shows similar results, but some of these polls measure higher rates of ownership and some measure lower.

How do we reconcile these two statistics, especially since we’ve learned that there is rising gun ownership among women and minorities?

The first thing to remember is that these are two different types of data. The background checks are hard data; these were actual people going into actual gun stores to buy a gun. Not all of those background checks resulted in a gun sale, but we can speculate that the majority did.

It’s important to remember that these numbers do not account for private sales, which some estimates say account for 40 percent of all gun sales (the so-called “gun show loophole” that we’re always hearing about). I know in my state you don’t have to go through the process of a background check if you have a Georgia Firearms License.

The polls, on the other hand, are nothing but an educated guess, and probably not very educated. Think about it: if you as a gun owner get a phone call from someone who wants to know if you have guns in the house and how many, how likely are you to answer truthfully? We gun owners tend to have a healthy suspicion of the government and a media that largely portrays gun ownership as an epidemic. It’s not prudent to tell anyone of consequence what we have and how many.

If you ever visit an online gun forum you’ll hear all about how entire gun collections are routinely lost in tragic boating accidents. That’s the real epidemic.

While it’s true that gun owners now own more firearms than ever before, with some estimate as high as 8 guns per owner (double the estimate in 1994), I don’t think this accounts for the upward trend in gun sales with a downward trend in ownership. We aren’t hoarding all the guns.  

The simple fact is: more people are buying guns and telling the government it’s none of their business.

Would you answer a phone poll about gun ownership truthfully? Let us know in the comments.

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  • rammer

    Tell ANYONE outside my home/family/immediate circle of friends that I have and carry a gun? Not a chance!

  • disqus_with_you

    I wouldn’t admit to owning a firearm on this friendly website anymore than I would to a pollster on the telephone.

  • robertg222

    I don’t own any guns. Never have never will. Pay no attention to that gun safe behind the curtain. It just has marshmallows in it.

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  • K9warrior

    Hell no!

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  • Nancy McPherson

    Surveys call my landline, so they usually get my answering machine. My friends know what I have, and the Feds know what I’ve bought with background checks. No sense telling anyone else.

  • Nancy McPherson

    One of the most enlightening books I’ve ever read is “How to Lie With Statistics”. It’s probably a media manual.

  • Mikial

    More Liberal wishful thinking. I think a lot of the answer is that gun owners don’t trust the government and they are not going to admit to owning a gun to some stranger on the phone.

  • KUETSA

    There is no need for facts, honesty, or reality, in the progressive socialist propaganda to disarm American citizens in the global socialist/communist takeover of our great constitutional republic.
    NEVER SURRENDER YOUR FIREARMS!
    (Or your standard full capacity magazines)

  • CzarChasmIII

    I open carry better’n 90% of the time, and love it that cops can’t contact/question me without RAS (reasonable articulable suspicion) of my having already committed a crime, or being about to commit a crime, and the open carried gun cannot provide that RAS by itself. If I answer a call from a pollster, which is rare, but if I do, I have no problem with saying “Yes, I am armed.” No more details would ever be forthcoming though. The point being that the whole reason I open carry is to announce that I’m armed and prepared to defend myself against those who would seek to victimize me. Everyone, even including someone who works as a pollster, who sees me out and about knows I’m armed. I don’t get why people are so secretive about answering a simple question. I get why you wouldn’t want to give details, but why flinch at being asked if you’re armed or not? Wouldn’t more accurate statistics make the case that more law-abiding and normal people take the responsibility to arm themselves for self-defense purposes? I live in a state that is very high on the numbers-per-100,000 list of people who hold permits. Open carriers don’t even have to get a permit, but regardless, along with that high statistic are comparatively low crime rates between us and other, lower-on-the-list states. In my view, there’s a two-fold benefit to making your armed status known; 1) It helps to establish more accurate statistical comparisons between armed citizen rates and high or low crime rates, and 2) It helps to normalize the thought of free, armed citizens walking amongst us. What’s wrong with that?

  • John W.

    If I received a phone call from any news or polling organization-known or unknown-asking if I own guns, the answer will either be “NO,” or “none of your business.”

  • pointdan

    Obama – gun salesman of the year for 8 years running. It is the ONLY private industry he has helped . . . much to his dismay no doubt. Gun ownership is way up . . . Bloomberg’s group lies repeatedly.

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