Rasmussen has just released a new poll on gun ownership in the United States. The company asked the following four questions: “Have you or someone in your immediate family bought a gun in the past year? What is the main reason most people purchase a gun – self-defense, to commit a criminal act, for job purposes, some other reason? Is it too easy or too hard to buy a gun in the United States today? Or is the level of difficulty about right?” The survey SAID . . .
The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that nearly one-out-of-four Americans (23%) say they or someone in their immediate family has bought a gun in the past year. Seventy percent (70%) have not, but six percent (6%) aren’t sure.
Gun control proponents assert that the number of American families owning guns has been decreasing. That the ongoing sales surge is the result of a smaller number of owners buying more guns, rather than an expanding base.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation says poppycock. According to their annual survey of 537 firearms retailers in all 50 states, first-time buyers account for some 25 percent of sales. “It’s been that way for years,” NSSF Communications Director Michael Bazinet told TTAG.
In any event, the fact that one-in-four Americans purchased a firearm this year is significant, even without a new/old gun buyer context. It indicates that the firearms market is far from saturated, given that some percentage of the 70 percent who haven’t purchased a gun this year are gun owners and, thus, a viable market for additional sales.
Sixty-six percent (66%) believe self-defense is the main reason most people purchase a gun. Just five percent (5%) think they make such a purchase to commit a criminal act, while one percent (1%) say it’s for job purposes. Twenty-two percent (22%) say most people buy a gun for some other reason.
It’s important to remember that Rasumussen’s asked why “most people” purchase a gun, not “why did you buy a firearm?” The question doesn’t establish whether or not respondents considered self-defense a valid reason for buying a gun. But clearly, hunting and target practice don’t figure as highly in the public consciousness when it comes to American gun ownership.
Forty-four percent (44%) of Americans think it is too easy to buy a gun in this country. Only 11% say it’s too hard, but 36% consider the level of difficulty about right.
The response does not bode well for die-hard supporters of firearms freedom, gun rights supporters who consider any impediment to a gun purchase to be an unconstitutional infringement on their right to keep and bear arms. The really interesting (if not surprising) bit is how the answers break down by political party.
A closer look finds that 64% of Democrats believe it is too easy to buy a gun in the United States, but only 28% of Republicans and 36% of those not affiliated with either major political party agree. Still, 21% of Democrats say they or someone in their immediate family has bought a gun in the past year, compared to 29% of Republicans and 20% of unaffiliated.
My interpretation: Democrats support gun control in principle but not necessarily in practice. Which probably means that Democrats who purchase guns are simply paying lip service to gun control. Or they think “strict” gun control is good for thee but not for me. (You might say they’re hypocrites but I couldn’t possibly comment.)
The final piece of the puzzle: demographics:
Men are more likely than women to say there’s a new gun in their immediate family. Women feel more strongly that it is too easy to buy a gun in America.
Senior citizens are the least likely to say they or someone in their family has bought a gun recently and are the strongest believers that it’s too easy to purchase one.
Whites are slightly less likely than blacks and other minority Americans to report the purchase of a gun in the past year. Blacks are the most likely to say most buy a gun for self-defense.
Americans with children in the home are twice as likely to have a new gun in the family as those who don’t have children living with them.
Among those who say they or an immediate family member has bought a gun in the past year, only 24% think the process is too easy; 53% say the level of difficulty is about right. But 54% of those who don’t have a new gun around say it’s too easy to buy one.
Hang on. “Whites are slightly less likely than blacks and other minority Americans to report the purchase of a gun in the past year.” That’s a huge surprise; an important reflection of anecdotal evidence suggesting that minorities are taking to guns in record numbers.
As for the fact that Americans with kids are buying more guns than singles, that ties in perfectly with the preponderance of respondents who consider a gun a tool for self-defense. (Parents have more to defend.)
One last thing: the stat revealing that “54% of those who don’t have a new gun around say it’s too easy to buy one” reveals an opportunity for gun rights advocates. If those respondents knew how hard it is for a lawful resident to purchase a gun in their home state, they might not support gun control as vehemently. Better yet, if they could be convinced to buy a gun, their perspective would certainly change.