Politics

Self-Reported Gun Ownership in U.S. Is Highest Since 1993

Majority of men, Republicans, and Southerners report having a gun in their households

PRINCETON, NJ -- Forty-seven percent of American adults currently report that they have a gun in their home or elsewhere on their property. This is up from 41% a year ago and is the highest Gallup has recorded since 1993, albeit marginally above the 44% and 45% highs seen during that period.

U.S. Gun Households, 1991-2011

The new result comes from Gallup's Oct. 6-9 Crime poll, which also finds public support for personal gun rights at a high-water mark. Given this, the latest increase in self-reported gun ownership could reflect a change in Americans' comfort with publicly stating that they have a gun as much as it reflects a real uptick in gun ownership.

Republicans (including independents who lean Republican) are more likely than Democrats (including Democratic leaners) to say they have a gun in their household: 55% to 40%. While sizable, this partisan gap is narrower than that seen in recent years, as Democrats' self-reported gun ownership spiked to 40% this year.

2002-2011 Trend: Gun in Household, by Party ID

The percentage of women who report household gun ownership is also at a new high, now registering 43%.

2002-2011 Trend: Gun in Household, by Gender

Gun ownership is more common in the South (54%) and Midwest (51%) than in the East (36%) or West (43%) -- a finding typical of Gallup's trends in gun ownership by region.

2002-2011 Trend: Gun in Household, by Region

One in Three Americans Personally Own a Gun

Since 2000, Gallup has asked respondents with guns in their households a follow-up question to determine if the gun belongs to the respondent or to someone else. On this basis, Gallup finds that 34% of all Americans personally own a gun.

The gender gap in personal gun ownership is wider than that seen for household ownership, as 46% of all adult men vs. 23% of all women say they personally own a gun.

Middle-aged adults -- those 35 to 54 years of age -- and adults with no college education are more likely than their counterparts to be gun owners.

Summary of Gun Ownership, October 2011

Bottom Line

A clear societal change took place regarding gun ownership in the early 1990s, when the percentage of Americans saying there was a gun in their home or on their property dropped from the low to mid-50s into the low to mid-40s and remained at that level for the next 15 years. Whether this reflected a true decline in gun ownership or a cultural shift in Americans' willingness to say they had guns is unclear. However, the new data suggest that attitudes may again be changing. At 47%, reported gun ownership is the highest it has been in nearly two decades -- a finding that may be related to Americans' dampened support for gun-control laws. However, to ensure that this year's increase reflects a meaningful rebound in reported gun ownership, it will be important to see whether the uptick continues in future polling.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Oct. 6-9, 2011, with a random sample of 1,005 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each sample includes a minimum quota of 400 cell phone respondents and 600 landline respondents per 1,000 national adults, with additional minimum quotas among landline respondents by region. Landline telephone numbers are chosen at random among listed telephone numbers. Cell phone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.

Samples are weighted by gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, adults in the household, and phone status (cell phone only/landline only/both, cell phone mostly, and having an unlisted landline number). Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2010 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older non-institutionalized population living in U.S. telephone households. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting and sample design.

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

For more details on Gallup's polling methodology, visit www.gallup.com.

Gallup http://www.gallup.com/poll/150353/Self-Reported-Gun-Ownership-Highest-1993.aspx Gallup World Headquarters, 901 F Street, Washington, D.C., 20001, U.S.A +1 202.715.3030