Despite economic uncertainty, Americans bought guns at a record pace in 2016. The FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) processed some 27.5 million inquiries. Each of those checks typically indicates the purchase of one or more firearms. Since December 1998, the FBI has processed over 253 million NICS queries.
This recently released empirical evidence refutes the antis’ assertion that the gun sales surge represents a small group of gun owners buying more guns. Brace yourself for some fake news from the authorities at the NY Times:
The share of American households with guns has declined over the past four decades, a national survey shows, with some of the most surprising drops in the South and the Western mountain states, where guns are deeply embedded in the culture.
The gun ownership rate has fallen across a broad cross section of households since the early 1970s, according to data from the General Social Survey, a public opinion survey conducted every two years that asks a sample of American adults if they have guns at home, among other questions.
The rate has dropped in cities large and small, in suburbs and rural areas and in all regions of the country. It has fallen among households with children, and among those without. It has declined for households that say they are very happy, and for those that say they are not. It is down among churchgoers and those who never sit in pews.
The household gun ownership rate has fallen from an average of 50 percent in the 1970s to 49 percent in the 1980s, 43 percent in the 1990s and 35 percent in the 2000s, according to the survey data, analyzed by The New York Times.
The Times cites the University of Chicago’s General Social Survey (GSS) in its story. The GSS makes the claim that a telephone public opinion survey accurately reflects the level of gun ownership among Americans.
The head of the GSS, Tom Smith, gets funding for his work from the Joyce Foundation, a well-known anti-gun advocacy organization. He’s also expressed his personal belief that his “research” showing steady declines in gun ownership would “make it easier for politicians to do the right thing on guns” and pass more restrictive gun control laws.
Even if we discount the University of Chicago researchers’ history of faking and falsifying data, the survey’s methodology is dubious at best. An alternative interpretation of the data: Americans are growing less willing to admit to gun ownership to strangers who call them on the phone. Of course, the Joyce-funded ivory tower types at U of Chicago refuse to even consider that possibility.
In recent weeks, America’s mainstream media eagerly reported on another dubious study, The Stock and Flow of US Firearms: Results from the 2015 National Firearms Survey. This one claims “super gun owners” – just three percent of the American population – own 50 percent of all guns in America. The study’s abstract reveals some fundamental problems in its first sentence:
We estimate that, as of 2015, there were approximately 270 million guns in the US civilian gun stock, an increase of approximately 70 million guns since the mid 1990’s.
Apparently they believe that those 250 million NICS background checks (since late 1998) represent only 70 million guns sold. That requires a willing suspension of disbelief.
Looking at hard numbers
Illinois remains a deep blue state with relatively low levels of gun ownership. During Obama’s time in office, the Illinois State Police report the number of registered firearm owners has grown 65 percent from January 1, 2010 (1,260,521) to roughly December 1, 2016 (2,078,895).
While Illinois is only one of 57 states, one must again adopt a willing suspension of disbelief to conclude that Illinois’ hard data on gun ownership is an anomaly compared to the the rest of the nation.
Bottom line: when we look at the record-breaking gun sales and the rapid expansion of concealed carry laws in America since Barack Obama took office, we see a huge explosion in gun ownership. That’s supported by hard numbers in the Land of Lincoln where by law, gun owners must register with the Illinois State Police. Despite the best efforts of those opposed to it, Americans continue to love their nation and their civil rights, continuing to bitterly cling to their guns and their bibles.