Tag Archives: Violence Policy Center

U.S. Gun Ownership & Gun Death Data

(Note: The following data is compiled from a list of sources included at the end of summary.  Please click links for more detailed information.  Does not include deaths from war or other government/state perpetrators to include “crimes” committed in war zones. Both Staff Sgt. Robert Bales and Major Nidal Hasan are cited in the overview. Doubtless, Hasan is included in current domestic crime statistics, Bales crimes are probably not included in domestic homicide stats.  I also encourage readers to check data presented against other sources.)

According to a 2007 Small Arms Survey by the Geneva-based Graduate Institute of International Studies, about 4.5 million of the 8 million new guns manufactured worldwide each year are purchased in the United States and the nation has about “90 guns for every 100 citizens.”   The US is it the most heavily armed nation in the world with its citizens “owning 270 million of the world’s 875 million known firearms.” 

The 2007 report estimated there were 650 million civilian firearms worldwide, and 225 million held by law enforcement and military forces.

Although the AR-15 assault-type weapon – the civilian adaptation of the standard military issue M-16  – is the most popular “sportsman’s weapon” in the US, some estimates are that during the last 60 years well over 100 million Kalashnikov AK47-style assault rifles – famously referred to as “the people’s gun” – have been put into circulation around the world.

The FBI also estimates that there are 250-270 million registered privately owned firearms in the US – 100 million handguns, 150-170 million shotguns and rifles. Others estimate 350,000,000, as there’s no way to know the number of unregistered, illegal foreign-made weapons in the country.  Add those owned by the military, law enforcement agencies and museums and that’s 1 weapon for every man, woman and child.

There are 129,817 federally licensed firearms dealers, 51,438 of which are retail gun stores. That compares with 10,787 Starbucks stores, and 143,839 gas stations across the country. And that doesn’t count gun shows. About 40 percent of guns are sold in unlicensed private sales.

The majority of guns are owned by whites.

Based upon surveys, the following are estimates of private firearm ownership in the U.S. as of 2010:

    Households With a Gun  Adults Owning a Gun  Adults Owning a Handgun
Percentage

 40-45%

 30-34%

 17-19%

Number

 47-53 million

 70-80 million

 40-45 million

A 2005 nationwide Gallup poll of 1,012 adults found the following levels of firearm ownership: 

Category

 Percentage Owning

a Firearm

Households

 42%

Individuals

 30%

Male

 47%

Female

 13%

White

 33%

Nonwhite

 18%

Republican

 41%

Independent

 27%

Democrat

 23%

In the same poll, gun owners stated they own firearms for the following reasons:

 Protection Against Crime  67%
Target Shooting  66%
Hunting  41%

The most current polls report that among those who own handguns, 75 percent reported in a national survey that self-protection is the primary reason for owning a firearm. A 2000 study published in the Journal of Quantitative Criminology (link is to pdf for 2009 study) reported that US civilians used guns to defend themselves and others from crime at least 989,883 times per year. (Is a Gun an Effective Means of Self-Defense?) 

Other cite or argue:

  • The 2nd Amendment & constitutionally protected rights – “…the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
  • The 2nd Amendment is “the rebellion clause” in the Constitution (“No Prior Restraint [1st Amendment]”Doctrine of Prior Restraint),
  • “The 2nd Amendment is there to defend the 1st.”
  • The government – to include the police and the military, shouldn’t have more guns than the people least we’d have a police-state,
  • The police can’t be around to protect one all the time.
  • Prevention from foreign invasion
  • Laurence Tribe on the 2nd Amendment Tribe, well-known as a liberal scholar, concludes that the right to bear arms was conceived as an important political right that should not be dismissed as “wholly irrelevant.” Rather, Tribe thinks the Second Amendment assures that “the federal government may not disarm individual citizens without some unusually strong justification.” Tribe posits that it includes an individual right, “admittedly of uncertain scope,” to “possess and use firearms in the defense of themselves and their homes.””
  • Laurence Henry Tribe (bio)  |   Harvard Law School bio

[So You Think You Know the Second Amendment? By Jeffrey Toobin – http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/comment/2012/12/jeffrey-toobin-second-amendment.html#ixzz2FSy4HiRc]

The Real And Racist Origins of the Second Amendment By Bruce Dixon – http://blackagendareport.com/content/american-history-black-history-and-right-bear-arms

United States — Gun Facts, Figures and the Law – GunPolicy.org – http://www.gunpolicy.org/firearms/region/united-states

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Filed under American History, American Politics, Criminal Justice, Law Enforcement, Obama Administration, Police Abuse|Brutality|Killings, Political Ideology, The Obama Administration