How Many Guns Are There and Who Owns Them? - Characteristics Of Gun Owners

ownership children people married

In "Who Owns Guns? Criminals, Victims, and the Culture of Violence" (American Economic Review, vol. 88, no. 2, May 1998), Edward L. Glaeser and Spencer Glendon reported their findings on the characteristics of gun owners. They concluded that gun owners are most likely to be:

  • White, married men, over age forty, with teenage children (rather than infants or young children)
  • High-school graduates with higher incomes who own their own homes
  • Hunters
  • Residents of the South who live away from large cities and in areas where police are less available
  • Members of social groups in which gun ownership is the norm, perhaps because of a mistrust of public justice or because reliance on public justice is seen as a lack of individual competence

TABLE 2.8

Gun ownership by socio-demographics, 2001
Gun in household Handgun in household Personally owns gun
* Overall differences in distributions significant at .05–.002
** Overall differences in distributions significant at .001 or less
SOURCE: Tom W. Smith, "Table 5A. Levels and Distribution of Gun Ownerships—Ownership by Socio-Demographics," in 2001 National Gun Policy Survey of the National Opinion Research Center: Research Findings, National Opinion Research Center, University of Chicago, December 2001, http://www.norc.uchicago.edu/online/guns01.pdf (accessed October 7, 2004)
Men 41.7% 27.9% 39.2%
Women 28.5** 16.0** 10.2**
Northeast 26.0 11.4 18.9
Midwest 35.0 18.9 21.2
South 44.2 29.5 31.8
West 27.7** 20.9** 18.8**
Rural 65.2 41.8 43.6
Town, small city 35.3 19.2 27.7
Suburb 29.5 20.8 15.9
Large city 21.7** 13.8** 15.6**
Married 41.9 26.7 27.0
Divorced 29.2 17.0 24.9
Separated 24.6 11.8 18.4
Widowed 28.3 16.1 28.0
Never married 23.2** 13.8** 15.0**
Less than high school 27.7 12.8 19.2
High school 40.3 25.7 27.9
College 34.9 22.3 24.0
Greater than college 31.7 23.0 21.2
$0–9,999 16.1 10.2 14.3
$10,000–19,999 27.1 10.9 20.1
$20,000–29,999 31.1 17.0 27.0
$30,000–39,999 35.2 18.5 19.2
$40,000–49,999 30.4 21.5 23.5
$50,000–59,999 39.6 27.2 27.8
$60,000–79,999 49.8 30.0 29.2
$80,000+ 41.3** 31.0** 29.6**
Less than 30 years old 25.8 16.2 13.3
30–39 37.0 21.6 20.6
40–49 41.1 26.4 28.8
50–65 34.2 24.4 29.4
65+ 37.2* 19.9** 29.2**
No children in home 34.6 21.1 25.8
1 child 31.7 21.8 18.5
2 children 39.6 25.0 23.3
3 children 35.1 20.0 19.7
4+ children 35.9** 20.7 30.7**
Liberal 25.9 16.1 18.4
Moderate 35.0 19.7 24.0
Conservative 40.0** 26.6* 26.9*
Whites 37.8 23.3 25.3
Blacks 21.6 15.4 18.3
  • Individuals with a tendency toward more violent types of retribution

Characteristics of gun owners are also collected by the National Opinion Research Center in the annual National Gun Policy Survey. Table 2.8 shows 2001 data according to demographic and social characteristics ("socio-demographics"). Men (39.2%) were far more likely to own guns than were women (10.2%). More respondents in the South (44.2%) said they had a gun in the household, and handgun ownership was also highest there (29.5%). Married people (27%) and widowed people

FIGURE 2.3

(28%) were more likely to have guns than divorced people (24.9%), separated people (18.4%), or never married people (15%). Personal gun ownership was highest for high-school graduates (27.9%) and lowest for those with less than a high-school education (19.2%).

Table 2.8 also shows that gun ownership varies with household income, age, political persuasion, and race. Households with incomes of more than $60,000 reported the highest levels of gun ownership. Those aged forty and over were more likely to own guns than those under forty. Conservatives (26.9%) and moderates (24%) were more likely than liberals (18.4%) to own guns. More than a quarter (15.3%) of whites reported owning a gun compared to 18.3% of blacks.

A 2004 Gallup poll found that 43% of households reported that they keep a gun in the home. Figure 2.3 shows that of the approximately one thousand people called in this survey, 50% of political conservatives, 38% of moderates, and 33% of liberals owned a gun.

User Comments

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over 3 years ago

Gallup poll is cooking the books.
50%+38%+33%=121%
What a 25% error rate?

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over 1 year ago

OMFG you are mistaken. 50% of the 1,000 people who responded that they were Conservatives politically. For example if 200 said they were Conservative, than they mean 100 (50%) of those owned guns, etc. etc. for the other categories.

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almost 2 years ago

It's good that people can receive the credit loans moreover, it opens up new possibilities.

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almost 3 years ago

Hello,
Do you have a breakdown of gun ownership by religious affiliation?

Thanks very much,
Paul McHone