How Many Guns Are There and Who Owns Them? - Characteristics Of Gun Owners
children people ownership national
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
- 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
|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)|
|Town, small city||35.3||19.2||27.7|
|Less than high school||27.7||12.8||19.2|
|Greater than college||31.7||23.0||21.2|
|Less than 30 years old||25.8||16.2||13.3|
|No children in home||34.6||21.1||25.8|
- 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
(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.