This Is Who America’s Gun Owners Are

Posted July 1st, 2015 at 9:48 am (UTC-4)

(AP Photo)

(AP Photo)

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.


30 responses to “This Is Who America’s Gun Owners Are”

  1. Patrick McCarthy says:

    Wow did someone from MSNBC write this piece? This is really bad journalism if it was journalism but it is not it is political commentary from the left and certainly NOT patriotic. Who do you think you’re fooling? “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.” You mean the patriarch whose job it is to protect his family? I guess with whites as a majority it only makes sense that whites would own more guns. This is a hack job specifically designed to continue to widen the racial and social divides established by this regime. A real journalist would be ashamed to put garbage like this out.

    • Kent says:

      Do you have access to another good data source that suggests the statistics given in the article are in error?
      If so, then please share it and comment on why one source may be more trustworthy than another.

      The statistic given in the essay was not meant to be taken in a negative light or to cast blame on anyone, or even to suggest there is something wrong with the majority of guns being owned by that demographic.
      I for one was THRILLED since that age group is far more likely to be responsible gun owners than, say 19 – 28 year old males.

      By reacting the way you did, and using rhetoric from the far left – you weaken any point you might wish make . . .

      • Victor Kukic says:

        So a “a national sample of 4,000 U.S. adults, from 50 states and District of Columbia”, is a good poll? LOL LOLOLOLOL

    • edward says:

      Here is the issue with this report. “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.” most of the deaths and injuries identified here are committed by individuals who possess Non-Registered Weapons. If gun ownership rates drop, it is highly likely that these death and injury rates will go up dramatically.

  2. Stephen Shor says:

    Bang Bang Bang

    Political commentary from the left?

    Are you insane?

    In 2113 guns killed 33,636 people and injured 84.258

    That same year, gun violence killed 33,636 people and injured 84,258

    That is carnage.

    If you actually have images of a patriarch protecting his brood, check out the suicide rates for gun owners.

    If arming old men protected people we would be very clever to find even more old men and give them even more guns.

    Whatever gun technology did not exist at the time of the Bill of Rights should define what sort of BB gun you armed citizens should be permitted to have.

    Thomas Jefferson didn’t intend a hundred thousand Americans a year to get bullet holes in them.

    • Steve Crill says:

      The framers of the Constitution knew specifically that government of its own accord WILL oppress its citizenry until TOTAL control is achieved. Look at Nazi Germany, what happened there is simple… through media manipulation/propaganda, a resetting of the populations world view, or mind set, would instigate the re/de-valuation of the peoples will. Thereby reconstructing the constitution of the peoples MORAL standards, hence the overthrow of that society and the resulting New World Order that Adolph Hitler and the Thule Society wished to construct and seize power to rule with. The founding fathers also knew that with a strong Jedeo/Christian moral stance the people would not succumb to such a tyranny. Thusly the Second Amendment was standardized to protect all the aforementioned rights listed in the Holy Bible, and elsewhere knowing that only the True God of Creation has afforded U.S. all (all people everywhere) these natural rights of defense of life liberty and property. Only through transgression of law can a person be divested of these rights, be it the citizen or government doing the evil. Volumes have been written on this subject, I suggest you read some of them before you rant on some trivial inconsistency to make your ill conceived point.

      • Marcus Aurelius II says:

        The framers of the Constitution of the United States of America knew from experience that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. They were aware that the power to tax is the power to destroy. The were wary of powerful government having been subjected to the tyranny not only of King George III of Great Britain but of indifference by the British Parliament to entreaties for relief as well. They had to put up with British troops being quartered in their homes, in fact they were considered as the property of Great Britain, not as loyal British subjects with full rights of other British subjects as they imagined themselves.

        To prevent this from ever happening again and wary of the power of government, the first document to form a new government after independence was the Articles of Confederation which was too weak to govern. Had the Bill of Rights not been attached to the Constitution, it likely would not have been adopted because without it, the Federal Government would have been too strong. The genius of the US government that makes it exceptional is that it fractures power though separation of powers between different branches of government and division of power between the State governments and the Federal government. This sets potentially equally corrupt and ambitious government officials against each other, each group acting as a check and balance of power for the others. And over them all is a free press which acts as a discoverer and reporter of the crimes and misdeeds of government officials to the people they govern. Immediately after the four freedoms of the first amendment is the right to bear arms in the second amendment, not the seventh, eighth, ninth or tenth. This is how important that amendment was considered. Attacks on the second amendment is an attack on the sovereignty of the individual to determine his own destiny and instead put it in the hands of the state. This would violate the most basic underlying principles of US governance. It is this government which has facilitated its rise from a remote obscure collection of towns, villages, and farms in a vast wilderness to what is by far the most powerful and successful society that ever existed in barely over 100 years. There is a price to pay for freedom and that is responsibility. People who abuse the privilege to own guns and use them for legitimate purposes but instead to commit crimes pay a penalty under our system of justice. We lament the victims of gun related crimes but note it is a much smaller price to pay than living under a tyranny. We note that in other societies, the lack of these freedoms has had dire consequences.

        • Victor Kukic says:

          “This sets potentially equally corrupt and ambitious government officials against each other, each group acting as a check and balance of power for the others. And over them all is a free press which acts as a discoverer and reporter of the crimes and misdeeds of government officials to the people they govern. ”

          And then, it all changed. Multi national corporations and big fracking oil took over, and the media became afraid. Very afraid.

    • j says:

      8,583 lives ended by a PERSON shooting a gun … as firearms cannot, and never will, kill a person. A gun cannot, and never will, kill a rabbit for me to eat, but I am completely capable of using that particular tool for that particular practice.
      Words DO mean something.
      I will NOT consider myself a “hero” as stated in the article, should I be faced with the task of demanding my own (old) life. I will be indelibly tortured, as a soldier would be, should I take another’s life.
      The final sentence in the article is akin to a child saying “I know you are, but what am I?!”
      This is pitiful reporting.

  3. Lou Burns says:

    Interesting. When is giving raw statistics political commentary? More people own guns in this country than any other in the world. We also have the highest death rate by gun violence in the world. Think there might be a correlation? If you don’t have a brain, probably not.

    • Steve says:

      The U.S. is not even in the top 100 countries of highest murder rate per capita. Yet, the United States has the highest gun ownership rate per capita (by far) over any other country in the world.

    • Mickey M says:

      “giving raw statistics” ? Until we have a complete police state dictatorship there is no way of know how many firearms are in America. If you are satisfied with just estimates, comparing the deaths and injuries due to firearms with the estimated number of firearms the ratio would be very small. FBI records tell us with the steady increase of firearms that crime has decreased. And as for suicides those numbers would be unchanged if there were no guns at all.

  4. Marcus Aurelius II says:

    The right of ownership of guns in the US is an integral part of who and what America is. There would have been no revolution against the British Tyrant King George III had Americans not owned firearms. They would have been as helpless as the victims of the Gestapo in Nazi Germany and the KGB in the USSR. The right to defend one’s home using lethal force is an inalienable right denied in other places like Britain where shooting a criminal intruder is a crime. Here it is called justifiable homicide. There are also regions of the US where owning a gun is necessary due to threats from the natural environment. Many Americans also like to hunt game. Living in New Jersey I’ve never had any need or desire to own a gun but if I lived in Alaska where there are real threats from grizzly and polar bears, wolves, and moose, I’d own more than one and carry one with me at all times.

    The deaths from gun violence is an unfortunate price we pay for the freedom to protect ourselves and our families. That to Americans is an inalienable right that will never be taken away. The musket and powder horn next to the family hearth is ingrained in our identity. That horse is out of the barn with over 300 million guns in private hands and closing the barn door won’t work anymore. The genie can’t be put back in the bottle.

    Aliens who observe or visit America, who don’t have these rights, don’t understand them, criticize us, even come here to campaign against gun ownership like the British broadcaster Piers Morgan did. It took long enough to send him packing back to his native island. I can’t imagine that any Americans took him seriously.

    • Jonah says:

      I cant imagine anyone taking peirs on gun seriously

      • Marcus Aurelius II says:

        I’ll be the first to admit that I not only don’t take Piers Morgan seriously but I don’t take anyone from Britain or anywhere else in Europe seriously either. These people come here, tell us how to run our country, after a short time proclaim themselves experts on America, and they are in reality so clueless that the don’t know anything about what America is really all about. They criticize us about everything we do and say, wonder why we don’t talk to them, and then get angry when we tell them what we really think without our usual politeness.

        Here’s an interesting link to an interview by a self proclaimed expert on America, Justin Webb who was BBC’s correspondent here for a number of years. He knows what’s wrong with America and if we would just listen to him and his like by taking their advice we could one day become almost as great as Britain.

        • jonah says:

          My grandfather had quite the experience coming into the united states from mexico in 1942 you come here thinking well its just like the old country, motherland, fatherland etc. just a little different anyone making that assumption couldn’t be more wrong. We were lucky he had gotten a good education america was 166 years old in 1942 a extremely young country even at that age he knew instantly this was nowhere like home their was never any confusion about the american idea and ideals in the family it was a new land and new idea. The idea was and still is going into america with a willingness to be open to a new experience to be part of a new land not drag the ideals of your old land not to say that traditions cant be kept for course they can be kept but your in a new country I don’t know where people like Piers for instance have that disconnect. I don’t know if its the times we live in where people lose the sense of being part of a new community in a new land but I still think many get it still but I have seemed to notice that European countries experience that disconnect more than anyone else.

    • j says:

      Thank you Marcus.

  5. Jonah says:

    I’m a young Latino american living in California I love guns have since I was introduced into the proper use and handling of firearms in boy scouts. I am going to be a gun owner soon so I don’t know where this puts me into these gun statistics and really don’t care to be honest. As a Californian I grew up with many of these “restrictive” gun laws people are talking about already in place and have never once found them to keep me from enjoying a good day at the range. I plan on purchasing a AK 10rd fixed mag (obviously) I have to use a federally licensed firearms dealer and be subjected to a background check no problem my father and brothers passed and I will too. A message to my fellow gun owners we as in us gun owners have a duty to be responsible gun owners and americans to make sure are fellow american is as safe as can be that includes a important step of securing your fire arms in a safe even a lock on the trigger and reduce your chance for a mistake. As for addressing new laws of gun safety since handguns are statistically causing the most harm a way to combat this would be a effective safety certificate program when you buy your first gun from an FFL you are required to pass a multiple choice exam about gun safety we already have this in CA you have to take a written test for your car why not for a handgun? The certificate is good for 10 years. Maybe a Waiting period it couldn’t hurt though I have never see any research of data making a correlation between a accident or murder but like I said it couldn’t hurt. Addressing a new Assault Weapons ban the Federal Assault Weapons ban in 1994 a year before my birth known as formally titled the Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act failed to produce any real results even after years of heavy study this law also divided are nation on guns and alienated gun owners everywhere. It also produced the level of distrust between big government and gun owners that remains to this day and is used a fear bait by organizations like the NRA to keep sensible gun regulation from passing. There is not nor will their be data claiming a guns feature (pistol grip, telescoping stocks, folding stocks, barrel shrouds) make it more dangerous and saying it is science doesn’t make it so bullets kill not features. Finally as for anyone at all interested about gun regulation I urge you to talk to us owners about what can be done not all of us oppose some common sense regulation a lot of us are as ready for proper regulation in this nation and are not white old white men protecting their brood in future year of 2113 we can do something before such a date is reached that I assure you Stephen Shor.

    • Sparkletron says:

      > you have to take a written test for your car why not for a handgun?

      OK I’ll bite. You don’t have a right to drive; it’s a privilege. You do have a right to keep and bear arms. We don’t have tests for gun ownership just like we don’t have tests for voting, procreating, or even owning a pet. But I can easily see a progressive world where licenses would be required for all these things and more.

      Look you either have a right to protect yourself or you don’t. If you do then you need the means to do so. If you don’t then law enforcement must take full responsibility, meaning you can seek legal recompense if they fail to do so. In the USA, SCOTUS ruled that police have no specific obligation to protect citizens, only a general obligation to uphold the law. They specifically ruled that everyone has a personal responsibility to protect themselves.

      • Mark says:

        I’ll a-men you on that.

      • Jonah says:

        I’ll a-men that as well but think you misunderstood me I never said anything about you not having the right to bear arms that right is absolute. I never said that its not a proactive step to protect yourself in this country. I know the police have no obligation to protect you at all which is a good reason to own a firearm. All I want you to really get out of what I said is that these issues need to be take on by us gun owners and not by idiots like Kevin de Leon I dont think you know the embarrassment of having such a idiotic representative. As for those laws these things are just ideas and I would like you to know I am currently protesting the safety certificate program along other Californian gun owners for the restrictions its put on gun owners without viable proof of its effectiveness.

      • Jonah says:

        Don’t let your state become the California gun experiment.

  6. Joe Q P says:

    Of the 117,894 gun violence victims, how many were shot by the owner of a legally owned gun?

    According to the Center for Injury Research and Policy (, there are an average of 434,259 knife-related injuries per year. And about 225,000 were “altercation-related stabbings” to the torso. And, “children were more likely than adults to be injured while playing with a knife or during horseplay.” So, I guess we better start planning and implementing knife policies designed to reduce the dangers that can be associated with knife ownership. Think of the children!

    I also found this part of the article quite enlightening, “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.” So, you mean to tell me that gun owners know and/or are related to other gun owners? And they go out and do perfectly legal things with these guns? Wow, I never would have thought that could be possible. Good thing we have these non-biased, unopinionated journalists to inform us of these completely non-obvious facts.

    And please tell me how a sample size of 0.00125% (4000 out of 319,000,000) can be considered an accurate representation of the population?

    • Chris says:

      Please answer the first question you pose: of the 117,894 gun violence victims, how many were shot by the owner of the legally owned gun? And also include those family members of the legally owned gun owner were shot by the legally owned gun regardless of whether the gun owner of record did the shooting.

      As for the knife false equivalence: I have probably 50 knives in my house, ranging from cheese knives, to butter knives, to steak knives to 2 hunting knives. Can you find a stat showing the number of knife injuries per number of knives in the country? And do you think it’s surprising that kids playing with knives results in more injuries than adults playing with knives “during horseplay”?

  7. Phil C says:

    I would argue that LEGAL gun owners are mostly white, married men over age 55. Can we please stop using legal gun ownership statistics to frame the entirely of the gun violence problem in the United States.

    The state of Illinois has traditionally had no legal conceal carry for it’s citizens, yet every year Chicago is awash in gun violence. Does that mean NO ONE IN CHICAGO IS CONCEALING A GUN?

    Stories are framed using legal gun ownership statics because you can not factually compute the number of people ILLEGALLY carrying guns in our country and that is where the real gun violence issue begins. You can pick at the legal gun owners all you want, but you are like the blind man with his hand on an elephant…the problem is bigger than just what you can see & feel with statistics.

  8. Tom Murphy says:

    The statistics stated in this article do not allow the extraction of useful conclusions. In general, gun ownership in the USA is higher in more rural and sparsely populated regions and states where people have grown up with a tradition of hunting for at least a partial supply of food. And states and regions more densely populated and more urbanized have a lower percentage of gun ownership, because hunting is less convenient. The other major contributor to gun ownership are those who served in military units that used rifles and pistols – Army Infantry and Marine Corps units. These veterans, even those from urban areas, are more likely to become lifelong gun owners. And a further motivation for gun ownership in urban areas is the higher rate of crime in urban areas. Another clear pattern that emerges is that the crime rate is suppressed in areas of higher gun ownership and more liberal laws regarding concealed carry of pistols because criminals are less willing to risk being shot in the act of committing a crime by a legally armed citizen practicing concealed carry. One outstanding example of this is the town of Kennesaw, Georgia where all adult male heads of families are obliged to own a gun for home protection. The crime rate in Kennesaw is much lower than the national average crime rate.

  9. Marcus Aurelius II says:

    For all of the fear the English have about Americans owning guns it doesn’t seem to deter them from coming here. I guess they just like to live dangerously.

  10. Marcus Aurelius II says:

    Time for a dose of reality. The FBI web site on crime; in the United States Table 4 shows that in 2013 there were 14,196 (total from all causes) Murders and non-negligent manslaughters committed down from 14,866 in 2012. By comparison there were 30,800 motor vehicle deaths in 2012. You are twice as likely to be killed in an automotive accident as you are to be killed by murder or manslaughter.

    From NBC News: “In 2011 – the latest year for which detailed statistics are available – there were 12,664 murders in the US. Of those, 8,583 were caused by firearms.”

    In places like Britain where guns are not easy to obtain by private citizens, many killings are the result of knife attacks. Also in Britain if you kill an intruder who illegally entered your home, even if your life or your family’s was in danger, you are guilty of a crime. In America you’d be a hero. The exit door leading out of America is always unlocked unless there’s a warrant for your arrest.

  11. Charles says:

    “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.”
    ~ Incisive and profound research here… A meaningless statement, akin to saying that people who like ice cream are twice as likely to patronize ice cream socials…or that film fans are more than twice as likely as non film fans to access the website IMdb. The inference here, of course, is that there must be something wrong with people who engage in social activities that involve guns, which, obviously, is an emotionally biased presumption that colors the entire article and its “findings” as nothing more than an opinion piece.

    “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.”
    ~ Another pointless statement, unless the author is attempting to infer that white, married men over the age of 55 represent a violent demographic. Furthermore, the statement is only representative of lawful gun owners – there are no viable statistics on those who illegally possess firearms, other than the fact that the vast majority of gun violence is committed by known criminals using illegally-possessed firearms. For this statement to have any relevance to anything of import the author would have to explain the significance of this category in contributing to “the burden of firearm-related injury” and should point out at least a few examples of members of this demographic who have perpetrated a crime of violence involving a legally owned firearm. I suspect that you could replace the words “gun” and “weapons” with “wristwatch” and have a valid statement…which, by the type of logic being used here, makes owning a wristwatch an indicator of violent tendencies!

    Honestly, what passes for critical thinking these days is shameful.

  12. Marcus Aurelius II says:

    The only thing laws banning the legal ownership of firearms would do is make it more difficult for people to have the means to defend themselves. With over 300 million guns in private hands in the US, criminals will have no problem acquiring them. In Britain it is illegal for someone to defend his life or his family using lethal force, gun or no gun. That is a right we in America will never give up. A gun puts a 90 year old 100 pound woman on an equal footing with a 225 pound 20 year old man. If she’s being robbed, she has an opportunity to defend herself effectively. I’m always amused at Europeans who criticize the US. They don’t even have their own countries anymore. They gave that up when they joined the EU and the Euro.

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