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Gun ownership

SIG Pro semi-automatic pistol

Gun ownership is the act of owning a gun. It can be estimated in multiple ways, including surveys, administrative data pertaining to specific populations or events, and through the use of proxies.[1]


Variations by countryEdit

The United States has the highest number of privately owned guns per capita of any country of the world, with an estimated 88.8 guns per 100 people as of 2007, according to the Small Arms Survey.[2] 50% of those guns are owned by 3% of the population.[3] Serbia has the second highest number of privately owned guns per capita, with 75.6 guns per 100 people. Yemen is in third, with 54.8 per 100 people.[4]

Variations within the United StatesEdit

In the United States, estimates of the number of privately owned guns vary from 270,000,000 to 310,000,000 as of 2013.[5] A 2002 survey estimated that 32% of all U.S. households own at least one gun. The gun ownership rate was highest in Wyoming, at 62.8%.[6] More recently, a 2015 study found that about one-third of Americans owned a gun, and that this figure was highest in Alaska (61.7%) and lowest in Delaware (5.2%).[7]

A 2016 survey found that nearly half of privately owned guns in the United States are owned by 3% of the population.[8] The same survey reported an estimate of 265,000,000 privately owned guns in the United States, which is slightly more than the number of adults living in the US (242,000,000).[9] Since 1976, the percent of Democrats who own a gun has declined from 45% to 27% in 2000. In contrast, the percent of Republicans who own a gun has remained almost constant from 1976-2012.[10]

A 2017 survey found that gun ownership in the U.S. is most common among white people. Black people and Hispanic people are second and third most likely to own a gun, respectively. People who live in rural areas are more than twice as likely as people who live in urban areas to own a gun.[11]


Gun ownership (also sometimes called "gun availability" or "gun prevalence") has been measured via numerous proxies, including the % of suicides committed with firearms, the % of homicides committed with firearms,[12] the "Cook index" (the average of the % of homicides committed with firearms and the % of suicides committed with firearms),[13] and the number of officially issued firearm licenses.[14] The % of suicides committed with firearms (often abbreviated "FS/S" for "firearm suicides/overall suicides") correlates most strongly with survey estimates of gun ownership. Accordingly, it is considered the best proxy for examining the relationship between gun ownership and crime across multiple U.S. states or large counties.[15]

Association with rates of violenceEdit

Violent crime in the United States per the Uniform Crime Report (UCR).[16]

Some studies suggest that higher rates of gun ownership are associated with higher homicide rates,[17][13][18][19] although Gary Kleck argues that the highest-quality studies show that gun ownership does not increase homicide rates.[20] Higher rates of gun ownership are also associated with higher suicide rates[21][22] and higher accidental gun death rates.[23][24][25] The availability of illegal guns, but not that of legal guns, is associated with higher rates of violent crime.[26] Studies have shown that 36.3% of people had access to a gun and 5% carried the gun with them. However 7.3% stored their guns in an unsafe place. Certain people have blamed individuals with mental disorders for being dangerous and violent with the use of guns. Nonetheless, other studies have been conducted and show that 34.1% have access to guns. 4.8% carry a gun with them and 6.2% store the gun in an unsafe manner. The statistics show that gun ownership is significantly high in both sets of individuals, however, none of the figures show people with a mental illness are as dangerous with guns than people with perfect mental health.[27]

See alsoEdit

Further readingEdit


  1. ^ "Data for Measuring Firearms Violence and Ownership". Firearms and Violence: A Critical Review. National Academies Press. 2004. p. 34. 
  2. ^ "The largest civilian firearms arsenals for 178 countries" (PDF). Small Arms Survey. Retrieved 2 June 2017. 
  3. ^ Zhou, Youyou (2017-10-06). "Three percent of the population own half of the civilian guns in the US". Quartz. Retrieved 2017-11-13. 
  4. ^ Morris, Hugh (22 October 2016). "Mapped: The countries with the most guns (no prizes for guessing #1)". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2 June 2017. 
  5. ^ Desilver, Drew (4 June 2013). "A minority of Americans own guns, but just how many is unclear". Pew Research Center. Retrieved 2 June 2017. 
  6. ^ Timmons, Heather (24 July 2015). "Mapped: The US states with the most gun owners—and most gun deaths". Quartz. Retrieved 2 June 2017. 
  7. ^ Kalesan, Bindu; Villarreal, Marcos D; Keyes, Katherine M; Galea, Sandro (June 2016). "Gun ownership and social gun culture" (PDF). Injury Prevention. 22 (3): 216–220. doi:10.1136/injuryprev-2015-041586. 
  8. ^ Schatz, Bryan (19 September 2016). "This Is the Craziest Stat About Gun Ownership In America". Mother Jones. Retrieved 2 June 2017. 
  9. ^ Addady, Michel (19 September 2016). "A Tiny Percentage of U.S. Adults Own Half the Country's Guns". Fortune. Retrieved 2 June 2017. 
  10. ^ Joslyn, Mark (9 May 2017). "Gun ownership used to be bipartisan. Not anymore". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2 June 2017. 
  11. ^ Parker, Kim, et al. "The demographics of gun ownership." Social & Demographic Trends. 22 June 2017. 21 February 2018.
  12. ^ Shenassa, E. D (1 January 2006). "Utility of indices of gun availability in the community". Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health. BMJ Group. 60 (1): 44–49. doi:10.1136/jech.2005.039149. PMC 2465533 . 
  13. ^ a b Hemenway, D; Miller, M (December 2000). "Firearm availability and homicide rates across 26 high-income countries". The Journal of Trauma. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. 49 (6): 985–8. doi:10.1097/00005373-200012000-00001. PMID 11130511. 
  14. ^ Kapusta, N. D.; Etzersdorfer, E.; Krall, C.; Sonneck, G. (1 September 2007). "Firearm legislation reform in the European Union: impact on firearm availability, firearm suicide and homicide rates in Austria". The British Journal of Psychiatry. Royal College of Psychiatrists. 191 (3): 253–257. doi:10.1192/bjp.bp.106.032862. PMID 17766767. 
  15. ^ Azrael, Deborah; Cook, Philip J.; Miller, Matthew (March 2004). "State and Local Prevalence of Firearms Ownership Measurement, Structure, and Trends". Journal of Quantitative Criminology. 20 (1): 43–62. doi:10.1023/B:JOQC.0000016699.11995.c7. 
  16. ^ "Uniform Crime Reporting Statistics". Retrieved 2016-07-18. 
  17. ^ Miller, Matthew; Azrael, Deborah; Hemenway, David (December 2002). "Rates of Household Firearm Ownership and Homicide Across US Regions and States, 1988–1997". American Journal of Public Health. 92 (12): 1988–1993. doi:10.2105/AJPH.92.12.1988. PMC 1447364 . PMID 12453821. 
  18. ^ Hoskin, Anthony W. (September 2001). "Armed Americans: The impact of firearm availability on national homicide rates". Justice Quarterly. 18 (3): 569–592. doi:10.1080/07418820100095021. 
  19. ^ Miller, Matthew; Hemenway, David; Azrael, Deborah (February 2007). "State-level homicide victimization rates in the US in relation to survey measures of household firearm ownership, 2001–2003". Social Science & Medicine. 64 (3): 656–664. doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2006.09.024. 
  20. ^ Kleck, Gary (January 2015). "The Impact of Gun Ownership Rates on Crime Rates: A Methodological Review of the Evidence". Journal of Criminal Justice. 43 (1): 40–48. doi:10.1016/j.jcrimjus.2014.12.002. 
  21. ^ Anestis, MD; Houtsma, C (13 March 2017). "The Association Between Gun Ownership and Statewide Overall Suicide Rates". Suicide & Life-Threatening Behavior. doi:10.1111/sltb.12346. PMID 28294383. 
  22. ^ Westefeld, John S.; Gann, Lianne C.; Lustgarten, Samuel D.; Yeates, Kevin J. (2016). "Relationships between firearm availability and suicide: The role of psychology". Professional Psychology: Research and Practice. 47 (4): 271–277. doi:10.1037/pro0000089. 
  23. ^ Miller, M; Azrael, D; Hemenway, D (February 2002). "Firearm availability and unintentional firearm deaths, suicide, and homicide among 5-14 year olds". The Journal of Trauma. 52 (2): 267–74; discussion 274–5. doi:10.1097/00005373-200202000-00011. PMID 11834986. 
  24. ^ Miller, M. (1 March 2002). "Firearm Availability and Suicide, Homicide, and Unintentional Firearm Deaths Among Women". Journal of Urban Health. 79 (1): 26–38. doi:10.1093/jurban/79.1.26. PMC 3456383 . 
  25. ^ Miller, Mathew; Azrael, Deborah; Hemenway, David (July 2001). "Firearm availability and unintentional firearm deaths". Accident Analysis & Prevention. Elsevier. 33 (4): 477–484. doi:10.1016/S0001-4575(00)00061-0. 
  26. ^ Stolzenberg, L.; D'Alessio, S. J. (1 June 2000). "Gun Availability and Violent Crime: New Evidence from the National Incident-Based Reporting System". Social Forces. 78 (4): 1461–1482. doi:10.1093/sf/78.4.1461. 
  27. ^ Swanson, Jeffrey W.; McGinty, E. Elizabeth; Fazel, Seena; Mays, Vickie M. (2015-05-01). "Mental illness and reduction of gun violence and suicide: bringing epidemiologic research to policy". Annals of Epidemiology. 25 (5): 366–376. doi:10.1016/j.annepidem.2014.03.004.