We have evaluated the veracity of the claim that the prevalence of gun ownership has declined in the U.S. However, rather than using gun ownership data, we relied on previously reported data drawn from the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) regarding the percentage of completed burglaries and thefts resulting in a stolen gun.
If the prevalence of households owning guns has decreased over time, one would naturally expect that the percentage of burglaries and thefts with a gun reported stolen would show a similar downward trend.
Data from the NCVS show the relationship between the percentage of burglaries and other property crimes involving the theft of at least one firearm between 1994 and 2010.
An examination of these data shows little change in the percentage of burglaries and thefts with a firearm reported stolen. The findings cast some doubt on the assertion that the number of households owning guns in the U.S. has decreased over time. Otherwise, the percentage of burglarized households reporting a stolen gun would have also declined.
Reducing gun violence while recognizing the constitutional right of a citizen to own a firearm has always been the central challenge confronting gun control advocates.
Most gun control efforts have concentrated on restricting the acquisition of guns. It is argued that by decreasing the circulation of firearms in the population, fewer people will have the opportunity to use a gun for criminal purposes. However, based on our previous research and NCVS gun theft data, there should be a focus on gun theft rather than gun ownership to lessen gun violence.
Gun owners can be encouraged to secure their weapons in their homes through various avenues, such as educational programs or the use of locked gun cases and safes. Although some argue that these approaches infringe on gun owners’ freedoms and independence, the consequences of such a policy regarding gun violence are apparent.
— Stewart J. D’Alessio, Lisa Stolzenberg in The Paradox of Gun Availability and Gun Violence