Gun Ownership Higher Among Republicans Than Democrats

by Joseph Carroll

Republican gun owners also more likely to hunt

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- Guns and hunting are back in the news this week, with the recent incident in which Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally shot a fellow hunting companion on a Texas ranch.

A review of Gallup Poll data shows that 4 in 10 Americans report having a gun in their home or on their property, including 30% who say they personally own a gun and 12% who say some other member of their household owns one. Nearly equal majorities of gun owners say they use their gun to protect themselves against crime, for hunting, and for target shooting. Republicans are much more likely than Democrats to report owning a gun, and are also more likely to say they use their gun for hunting.

Guns in Households

Gallup's annual Crime Poll, last conducted Oct. 13-16, 2005, finds that 40% of Americans report that they have a gun in their home.

Reports of guns in American households have been quite stable during the past several years, but were higher at other points in time, such as from 1959 until 1968, and from 1989 until 1993. This measure was lower in 1999, when one in three Americans said they had a gun in their home.

Republicans are much more likely than Democrats to report having a gun in their home. A majority of Republicans (55%) say they have a gun in their home, compared with 32% of Democrats.

Personal Gun Ownership

The October poll also looked at gun ownership in another way, that is, to ask those who say they have a gun in their home or on their property if they personally own that gun, or if it belongs to another member of their household.

Overall, 30% of Americans say they personally own a gun and 12% say some other member of their household owns it. (This 42% of adults who personally own a gun or live with someone who owns a gun is comprised of 40% of Americans who say they have a gun in their home and 2% who say they have a gun on their property). These results show essentially no change since this question was last asked in 2000; at that time, 27% of Americans said they personally owned a gun and 14% said another household member owned one.

Republicans also are more likely than independents or Democrats to say they personally own a gun. About 4 in 10 Republicans (41%) say they own a gun, while 27% of independents and 23% of Democrats say this.

Gun Usage

Most gun owners use their guns for each of these three purposes -- crime protection (67%), target shooting (66%), and hunting (58%).

These results represent essentially no change since the question was last asked in 2000. Because there is so little difference in results among the two polls, Gallup combined the data from its 2000 and 2005 surveys to provide a more detailed look at the differences in gun usage between Republicans and Democrats.

These aggregated data show that Republican and Democratic gun owners are almost equally likely to say they use a gun for protection against crime, 64% to 69% respectively. However, Republicans are more likely than Democrats to say they use a gun for target shooting (71% to 53%) or for hunting (64% to 53%).

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews with 1,012 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Oct. 13-16, 2005. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is ±3 percentage points.

For results based on the sample of 305 adults who personally own a gun, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is ±6 percentage points.

For results based on the sample of 579 adults who personally own a gun, conducted Aug. 29-Sept. 5, 2000 and Oct. 13-16, 2005, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is ±4 percentage points.

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.
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