Wake Forest sociology professor David Yamane is an active analyst of America’s gun culture and runs the Gun Curious blog. He also teaches a course in the sociology of guns. In his latest Light Over Heat video, Dr. Yamane calls attention to a survey done last year by Georgetown Professor William English.
From the survey’s abstract . . .
This report summarizes the findings of a national survey of firearms ownership and use conducted between February 17th and March 23rd, 2021 by the professional survey firm Centiment. This survey, which is part of a larger book project, aims to provide the most comprehensive assessment of firearms ownership and use patterns in America to date. This online survey was administered to a representative sample of approximately fifty-four thousand U.S. residents aged 18 and over, and it identified 16,708 gun owners who were, in turn, asked in-depth questions about their ownership and their use of firearms, including defensive uses of firearms.
English is also the author of a paper last year titled The Right to Carry Has Not Increased Crime: Improving an Old Debate Through Better Data on Permit Growth Over Time.
In the 2021 national survey, English set out to, among other things, determine exactly how prevalent AR-pattern rifle and “high capacity” magazine ownership really is among America’s gun owners. That’s not merely an academic question as the Heller decision established the “common use” standard for firearms that can’t be regulated out of existence by hoplophobic politicians.
What exactly constitutes “common use” is, of course, an angels-on-the-head-of-a-pin, you-know-it-when-you-see-it style subjective legal question. But as Professor Yamane notes, Professor English’s survey found that just over 30% of gun owners report ownership (past or present) of an AR-15 style rifle. He also found almost half of gun owners surveyed report owning “high capacity” magazines, those that hold over 10 rounds of ammunition.
Yamane isn’t an attorney and neither are we. But English’s survey has turned up AR ownership by roughly 25 million (higher than the number usually quoted) and “high capacity” magazine ownership by close to 50 million gun owners (which seems low to us).
As Yamane puts it . . .
If we look at one-third to half of gun owners, I would say that ownership of AR-15-style rifles and high or standard capacity magazines is fairly common empirically.
We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. Whether you’re a fan of the “common use” standard or not, that’s the law of the land right now. And data such as these demonstrate — quite clearly — that any efforts to limit magazine capacity and ban scary-looking firearms are, by any measure, unconstitutional. That’s hopefully something that the Supreme Court’s pending decision in the New York case and others will help to further clarify.
See Professor English’s full 2021 National Firearms Survey results here.