Almost one in three Americans own at least one gun and the owners of these weapons are most likely white, married men over the age of 55.
“Firearm violence in the USA continues to be a major public health concern,” according to the report published online in Injury Prevention. “There is little question that the high prevalence of gun ownership in the USA contributes to the burden of firearm-related injury. Firearm ownership and use for recreation and personal defense have long been an integral part of U.S. culture.”
The research found gun owners are twice as likely as people who don’t own guns to be associated with an active social gun culture, where family or friends own guns, or social activities that involve guns.
The report tracked gun ownership rates in 2013. That same year, gun violence killed 33,636 people and injured 84,258 others in the United States. There are an estimated 300 million guns in the U.S.
Alaska has the highest per capita firepower with nearly 62 percent of its populace having guns.Other states with the high gun ownership rates include Arkansas (57.9 percent) and West Virginia (54.2) in the south and Idaho (56.9) in the west.
The study shows that the states with highest gun death rates had gun ownership rates that were 50 percent higher than states with low gun death rates.
The researchers, from Columbia University and elsewhere, say the strong social gun culture in the U.S. should be factored in when planning and implementing gun policies designed to reduce the dangers that can be associated with gun ownership.
The study used data from a national sample of 4,000 U.S. adults, from 50 states and District of Columbia.