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I make that 76 percent of Americans buy a gun or guns for some kind of defensive purpose, according to a National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) poll conducted by Harris Interactive. A couple of problems though. First, I think the survey covers the last six months, but it’s not clearly stated. There’s no link to the data, methodology or sample size; I can’t find it on the NSSF’s website and Harris Interactive doesn’t have it on their site, either. Second, the press release (via also claims that “Target shooting (30 percent) and hunting (28 percent) came next.” No math maven I, but I make that 134 percent in total. Overlap, obviously. Which renders the survey a lot less, uh, useful. What were the options respondents didn’t pick? “To help the Tea Party mount an armed insurrection?” The NSSF site is equally unenlightening on matters procedural. So, with enough caveats to satisfy Russian nuclear arms negotiators, here are some of the NSSF’s conclusions:

Findings from the NSSF/Harris poll include:

  • Some 18.4 million Americans “currently participate” in handgun target shooting and 14.8 million in rifle target shooting, an increase from the 16.8 million and 13.9 million, respectively, from an NSSF poll conducted by Harris Interactive last September.
  • Participation in the shotgun sports of “skeet/trap” and “sporting clays” was 4.2 million in each of those categories.
  • In response to a question about why Americans made their most recent firearm purchase, 40 percent of respondents said “home protection” followed by 36 percent citing “personal protection.” Target shooting (30 percent) and hunting (28 percent) came next.
  • The main barrier to people going target shooting more often? “Cost of ammunition” was cited by 50 percent of the respondents, followed by “not enough free time” (43 percent).

So, a million more people down at the range, then? It sure feels like in on the weekends. But, as gun sales have increased by roughly that amount in the same time period, are we to believe that ALL of them are now target shooting? Or are formerly non-shooting gun owners preparing for the teapocolypse?

Anyway, more overlap. And the NSSF spins this whole deal as a come-on for members (and others) to COME ON DOWN! And shoot some animals.

The survey highlighted the power of a personal invitation to motivate an individual to go target shooting or hunting. Some 45 percent of respondents said an “invitation from friend or family” would most encourage them to participate, ranking this personal interaction far ahead of all forms of advertising.

Once invited by a friend or family member, respondents said they would want to:

* Shoot a handgun at the range (77 percent)
* Shoot a rifle at the range (69 percent)
* Go plinking (55 percent)
* Fire shotguns at clay targets (54 percent)
* Take a self-protection class (54 percent)
* Go hunting for various game species, which was cited by an average of 25 percent of respondents.

Question: how many would like to just throw the shotgun into safe (if only) and just forget about it (not recommended)? Never mind like. How many do?

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