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Gun Sales

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.

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  1. I love the fact that pollsters just assume they are collecting honest data from asking randos personal questions.
    Polling lost the minute trolling became the default reaction of millions of people.

    B.b.b.bbb…bbbbut I’m calling from Yale/Dartmouth/Haaaaavaaaad/Quinnepiac/XYZ Government Agency/etc……
    You have to be honest and sincere with me.

    Everyone I know (who even still owns/uses a phone) answers each call with “Eat a dick” and hangs right up because they think it’s funny. Ages ranging from 20 something to 50 something.

    Your survey, regardless of sample size, means absolute dick.

  2. “Americans are growing less willing to admit to gun ownership to strangers who call them on the phone.”

    That. Right there.

    • 65% of Americans are smart enough not to tell a stranger on the telephone, who by extension knows where they live, that they own guns. Imagine that. Wonder what those 35% were thinking saying yes?

    • I want a survey which asks, “If you owned a firearm at home, would you admit to owning a firearm to an anonymous telephone survey?”

    • Just like Americans are unwilling to admit that they’re voting Republican unless they already know everyone who can hear is a Republican/Libertarian/etc, and the pollsters oversampled lefties so they could say “see, nobody is voting for Literally-Hitler, so just stay inside on Election Day, grandpa.”

  3. 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.

    Therein lies the rub. These are the people that are supposed to be FOR the rights of the minority.

    • And once they are corrected by a return to their home state, being tossed out of office by gun-owning voters, they are no longer in office to make that correction useful. We’re just screwed, we’re gonna have to shoot ’em. What a bitch, with ammo costs and all.

  4. Yep, fake researchers doing fake polling paid for by fake foundations to create false news articles and hopefully pass feel-good laws (for them).

    Some asshole manages to get through to me on my cell phone and asks me if I own a gun? Go F yourself is my response. How does that compute in their fake data?

    • If I were on the other end of the line I’d take your response to mean ‘yes, I do own guns, but it’s none of your business’. However for the purpose of making it look like gun ownership is in decline, I’d bet that response gets you into the non-gun owner category.

  5. 1970: 50% of 200 million people = 100 million gun owners.

    2016: 35% of 320 million people = 112 million gun owners.*

    *If you take their numbers at face value and if you believe gun owners are going to tell some anonymous person on the phone that they own firearms.

    • I’m sure support for gun control has dropped just as much, if not more…. We might know if someone did an honest survey and didn’t word questions so that you couldn’t disagree without sounding like a crazy.

      My guess is that these days, guns are less political, but more politically polarized. You got more of the general public who just doesn’t care and more people on each side who care a lot. The 1980’s and early 90’s was probably the peak of gun control support, when they were pushing gun control in every corner of media, tv shows, movies, and news.

      I would like to see how much support has actually fallen.

    • NYC2AZ,

      I like your analysis. In the interest of accuracy, the source article was referring to how many households, not people, owned firearms.

      Thus, you need to update your analysis to reflect how many households were in the United States in the 1970s versus today. Having said all that, I am supremely confident that the result/implication will be unchanged.

      • Good catch. The media and the anti gun groups are always shifty with their numbers game. Just like the 35% figure, the most recent Gallup poll I saw reported here on TTAG was over 40% of American households owned firearms. They have to lie on everything to feed the narrative.

    • 1970: 50% of US households = 32.4m

      2015: 35% of US households = 43.6m

      So thats a 34.5% increase in the total number of gun ownimg households

      Theyre using the old trick in statistics of going back and forth between rates and raw numbers using whichever works best for them and isnt caught by people not paying attention (which is mostly everyone)

  6. Its likely to come back and bite us in the ass if we dont honestly answer some of these polls. They will use their bad stats to make it easier to push lawmakers into making stricter laws.

    I hate telling these people I own guns, or even talking to the idiots. But it may be something we will have to start doing if we want to be honestly represented.

    • Your acquiescence to the Bloomberg progressives/snowflakes is troubling. Never give an inch! They are intellectually dishonest and will take that inch and want 10 more feet. Then another 10 feet. Then another…F off is the appropriate response to Bloomberg.

    • The best thing we can do is make their polls so far off as to be laughable and dismissed when put against the NICS and CHL numbers.

    • You’re assuming that these kinds of ideologically-driven polls are recorded and reported honestly. That’s a big assumption, in my opinion. Are you sure your affirmative answer will be recorded, and not later “corrected for various factors”? These are people who have no problem making up numbers or telling bald-faced lies to advance their agenda.

  7. I’m just playing devil’s advocate here, but they could be claiming that, of those 250 million NICS checks, only 70 million represented a new firearm being sold. I still find that hard to believe, but it’s at least possible.

      • Yes they can. It would just also represent F-all of the truth, and why the F is it being quoted again.

        Headline should read “they lied again” work to alienate and defund the mf’s.

  8. “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.”

    We estimate the National Debt is around 8 trillion, an increase of about 2 trillion since the 1990s. Regardless, we could borrow the entirety of GDP in fiat currency, and nothing could possibly go wrong. Our brilliant economic strategists have it all under control.

    Propaganda needs no basis in fact. Just keep repeating the lie, and have someone who sounds credible keep doing it. The sheeple will believe anything you throw at them these days. If you can get them to believe an impact less than wind-loading, and a brief office fire can bring down not one, but two modern skyscrapers, you can get them to believe anything.

  9. Ummm…pardon me Boch but my FOID does NOT indicate I own a gun. Merely that I can. In fact I had a successful background check and the sleazy dealer tried to get 55bucks more out of me. I refused…now the feds tracking me?Anywho other than that I did add to the #. And more in 2017. I never ever take surveys either…

    • Calm down, FOID numbers are a good correlation, nothing more. A lot better than a phone survey. The real question is when did we get the other 7 states?

      • Oh I’m plenty calm. 57 comes from a Bury Soetoro blunder…but Odumbo never got the abuse W did for “misspeaking”.

  10. Unfortunately the big chief in the White House for eight years has given regulatory authority for “visa waiver” jihadists and drug cartels to legally purchase firearms by a change in the wording of our national DROS background check.
    It’s just one of the many ways the traitor obama has supplied our enemies with everything they need to mount an insurrection.

  11. “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.”

    If this trend keeps up, pretty soon there will be 500 million guns in America, 100% of which will be owned by 0% of the people.

  12. With the explosion in single parent families, the numbers of “households” has increased. More households dilutes the percentage of those owning guns. Add in people no longer wanting to declare gun ownership (the reduction in the south and west is very suspicious on this front) and you realize this story has all the credibility of the Russian utility hack.

  13. I believe it is likely true that the majority of the guns purchased in 2016 (and in general) are purchased by people that already own guns. That doesn’t mean there weren’t any new gun owners in 2016, though. I bought 3 guns in 2016 but already had several before this year. If even 25% of adult Americans purchased only 1 gun, there would have been around 64 million guns purchased. So people like me, you, many folks on this site, preppers, competitive shooters, etc., do likely buy a higher proportion of the guns than the general population. Why is that so surprising?

  14. “Each of those checks typically indicates the purchase of one or more firearms.” This statement is misleading. The NSSF has found that each NICS check correlates with 0.6 new civilian gun sold (by manufacture or import). The remainder is probably accounted for by sales of used guns. Whether these NICS figures include inquiries associated with processing a CWP/FOID application, I don’t know. Also to be accounted for are sales of new guns where no NICS check is required because the buyer has a CWP.)

    In any case, using the 253 million life-to-date NICS checks and the 0.6 multiplier, it looks like about 1/2 of the presumed 300 million civilian gun stock is accounted for by sales since the inauguration of the NICS system.

    During this era of a score of years, we are to suppose that purchasers of guns are substantially accounted for by households in the rural, red, gun-culture States. The nation’s population growth has largely occurred in major metropolitan areas (blue) and migration of residents from such areas to minor metropolitan enclaves in the South, MidWest and West (blue). The number of households – family units – that keep guns has remained largely stagnant. Grandpa was a hunter; Pa was a target shooter; so Pa’s 2 sons still keep guns in their households. It is this stable pool of households that have purchased substantially all the 151 million guns in the last 20 years. Really?

    I do not suppose that the percentage of households keeping guns has risen dramatically from, say 45% -> to 60%. But neither do I suppose that it has fallen from 45% -> 30%. Whatever the baseline figure might have been 20 years ago, I suspect it really hasn’t changed a great deal.

  15. NICS is also not a good estimator in another regard. Black Friday @ Cabelas I(along with about 1000 other people) bought a new gun. Easily a 1/3 of those were with carry permits so no NICS required in GA. That makes me +7 alone with no checks in 1 year!

  16. I’m not going to bother to crunch the numbers on this because a rough estimate in my head shows this claim to be nonsensical at best.

    This is all part of an Alinsky strategy to, “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” while at the same time advance the argument that rights for minorities don’t matter if the minority is small enough. It’s just 3% so who cares what they want? Which is ironic since the Left has spent the last 40 years cobbling together a patchwork of minorities to support them… but I digress.

    I would also point out that the numbers on that chart really start to rise every year starting in about 2003. That means it’s Bush’s fault!

  17. I bought a couple of firearms in 2016. Picked up an M1A in November and finally found a 5906 in December. It had nothing to do with panic buying. In fact, it was just the opposite. A local sporting goods store was clearly planning on gouging their customers hard, expecting a surge of Clinton panic buys. When that didn’t pan out, they were left with at least 50 extra ARs, a dozen or so M1As, and enough Glocks to arm the entire town. You tell me where you’re going to find a NIB M1A for $1,200. And I just always wanted a 5906; two and a half pounds of American steel that will outlive all of us. I mean, show me a 23+ year old Glock that sees regular use.

  18. Since Dec 1998 I have bought around 15 guns, I’d guess, and had a NICS check zero times, due to a carry license. Still, 253 million NICS checks, and during that time, firearm ownership has been decreasing, while the number of guns in the country has remained constant at 300 million. Sure. That adds up just perfectly. Do these people even *have* brains?

  19. If your number isn’t already programmed into my phone, I don’t answer. If the caller does not leave a message, it wasn’t a relevant call. Unknown numbers not leaving messages get searched on ze internet, and blocked if not identifiable. I don’t answer any questions when someone calls me.

  20. Gallup disagrees with the GSS and Gallup is much more reputable. Also, Gallup acknowledges that the number of gun owners is actually higher than reported because so many gun owners don’t want to tell a stranger that they own guns.

  21. I don’t believe these numbers. Our business RARELY does a NICS check so where is the accountability for those sales? Anyone?

  22. So, they call a bunch of people that still have landlines — mostly elderly people — who still answer calls from unknown numbers, who are more likely not to own a gun or admit it, and they say that is representative of gun ownership by the general population. Amazingly stupid people.

  23. All the poll they quote shows is that less households are willing to tell perfect strangers that they own guns. The other major flaw in this so-called “study” is that it assumes that one background check equals one gun sold. The fatal flaw there is that one check can encompass multiple guns. Even here in Commiefornia I can buy as man rifles or shotguns – although still only one handgun due to our insane laws – on each background check form and it still only counts as one check and one DROS fee.

    I can’t find the link for it now but someone else did some research and based on manufacturer numbers and sales records a more likely number for guns currently owned in the US is from 300 to 600 million. An exact number is impossible to determine because of the change in laws under GCA 68 and varying state requirements. Simply put, nobody knows exactly how many guns are owned in the US but what is certain is that the number is far, far higher than current “studies” suggest.

  24. There are two ways to check this hypothesis. First is to work with the NRA and do a survey of members asking them among other things if they have a firearm in the house and see how many don’t disclose sensitive information. Second is to do a survey in a state that has a FOID card system and see how the numbers match up.

    That said, I once had a survey caller claiming to be from my health insurer call me and ask for some PII to verify who I am. I ended the call.


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