There have been lots of surveys over the years that have claimed to show that gun ownership in the U.S. is on the decline. We’ve gone over this time and again; Robert took a swipe at the subject in 2012. Jim Barrett debunked the concept in 2013. I gave it a good fisking last year. And yet, the story being pushed by the mainstream media is that overall gun ownership is on the decline. Which is puzzling, given the ever increasing number of concealed carry permits issued, upward trending firearm sales, first time firearms purchasers, and increasing attendance at gun ranges. Nevertheless a new study now purports to perpetuate that narrative, but it can be pretty quickly debunked with the briefest examination . . .
The study in question is a 2014 survey from the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago. It claims that only 32 percent of Americans own a gun or live with someone who does. There’s just one problem: the study was done in Chicago.
From the Yahoo article:
The General Social Survey is administered by NORC at the University of Chicago, primarily using in-person interviewing. The GSS started in 1972 and completed its 30th round in 2014. The typical sample size was 1,500 prior to 1994, but increased to 2,700-3,000 until 2008, and decreased to 2,000 for the most recent surveys.
The problem with the majority of these surveys is that they don’t represent the actual number of people who own guns — only the percentage of people who will admit to a complete stranger that they own a gun. That’s akin to telling someone that you have a large pile of gold bricks in your house, something that lots of people might not want to disclose. Heck, I don’t even think I would admit to owning a gun during a phone survey.
That problem is magnified when you do in-person interviews, basically stopping someone on the street. That not only narrows the pool for respondents to large metropolitan areas (where there are enough people that you might get someone to actually stop and talk with you) and also will skew your answer depending on the geographic areas selected. In this case, I can’t find any evidence to indicate that NORC even left the greater Chicago area while conducting the survey.
A surveys is a notoriously imprecise way of measuring gun ownership. Why not use more concrete data? Pistol permits in New York, for example, have been steadily rising for two years now, definitive and conclusive proof that gun ownership is on the rise. And that’s a trend that is happening nationwide. A more accurate way to portray these results is “fewer people willing to admit to owning a gun than in previous years,” not that gun ownership is on the decline. But, as always, the mainstream media is too lazy to actually analyze the data that’s spoon fed to them before publishing. That, or they failed high school statistics.