For my Sociology of Guns class tomorrow, I am re-reading some reports on national surveys of firearms owners. I have written a number of times before about the statistics derived from these surveys and their problems.
At 22%, I believe the 2015 National Firearms Survey underestimates the actual rate of personal firearms ownership in the United States. Even still, there are still some interesting results from the survey related to Gun Culture 2.0.
Specifically, I examine here the results focusing on the demographics of those gun owners who only own handguns. As handguns are the primary self-defense firearm owned by Americans, those who own only handguns probably have both feet in Gun Culture 2.0.
In the National Firearms Survey, 63% of respondents said one reason they own firearms is for protection against people. (Another 20% gave protection against animals as a reason.) However, when the authors look at the type of firearms owned, those who own handguns stand out from those who own only long guns:
- Handgun only (own >1): 83% give protection from people as a reason for ownership
- Handgun only (own 1): 78%
- Handgun and long gun: 72%
- Long gun only (own 1): 36%
- Long gun only (own >1): 27%
Gun owners overall tend to be from a particular demographic profile: more male, older, whiter, rural, and southern.
Handgun only gun owners, by contrast, tend to come from different demographic groups, as I have highlighted in the table from the report below.
Women are nearly twice as likely as men to own only handguns (42% to 22%), Blacks are more than twice as likely and Hispanics nearly twice as likely as whites to own only handguns (57% to 38% to 20%), and those who live in urban areas are more than twice as likely as rural folks to own only handguns (40% to 15%).
Other interesting findings are political liberals are nearly twice as likely as political conservatives to own only handguns (36% to 20%), and (not shown) those who did not grow up with a gun in the home are more than twice as likely as those who did to own only handguns (44% to 20%).
When I spoke with Karl Rehn on the Handgun World Podcast, I said that Gun Culture 2.0 has the potential to be more inclusive than Gun Culture 1.0 because, unlike hunting and traditional target/recreational shooting, self-defense is everyone’s concern.
Although the study is not without its flaws, the 2015 National Firearms Survey points to some of this diversification of gun ownership in Gun Culture 2.0.