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Is it that time again already? Time to downplay the number of gun owners in the US in hopes of further marginalizing us? Apparently it is. The Washington Post ran an article yesterday intended to convince their readers that their ideas about gun ownership in the United States are all wrong.

Authors Mark Joslyn and Donald P. Haider-Markel concede that it’s devilishly difficult to get an accurate picture of the number of gun owners out there. Strangely enough, most gun owners are fairly hesitant to talk about the number of firearms they own — or if they own any at all — when asked by a stranger on the phone.

Undeterred, they then make the claim that despite the increased number of concealed carriers, NICS checks, and guns sold annually, gun ownership rates are far smaller than most people think. And they base their estimates on a survey the Post commissioned last year of 2,089 people.

But they get of to a rocky start, numerically speaking.

As some 70,000 people attended the NRA’s annual convention last week, nearly three months after the horrific school shooting in Parkland, Fla., the reignited national debate on guns seems to be at a stalemate.

But the discussion lacks some basic facts about guns in the United States. For example, how many people in the United States own a firearm? As with most gun issues, the answer is hotly disputed. Perhaps just as important, what do Americans believe to be the percentage of their fellow citizens who own guns — and will that increase or decrease in the coming years?

Our research finds that Americans substantially overestimate the gun-owner population — and that what they believe about gun ownership is related to what gun policies they support.

First, the NRA projected an attendance total of 80,000. Attendance has been over 80,000 for the last three meetings. In fact, the Dallas meeting had at total attendance of 87,154 members attending. The writers of the Post article didn’t have the actual numbers, because the attendance numbers were released yesterday, after their article was published. But there was no reason to believe the total would be lower than the last two years.

Everyone tends to see what they want to see. The authors of the Post article want to convince their readers that they have a drastically inflated idea of the number of gun owners out there. That the real number is much smaller than they think.

Americans believe that the United States has an extravagantly large gun-owner population. More than 40 percent of the public estimated that a majority of Americans own guns. About 18 percent think that 70 percent or more of Americans own guns.

And then they toss this out:

In reality, only about 25 percent of Americans own a gun.

They provide no source for that estimate. Pew and Gallup generally publicize self-reported numbers anywhere from about 32% to 44%. And again, those are self-reported, figures that no doubt significantly under-count the actual number.

But actually arguing with them about that is just delusional.

Of course, gun-rights advocates and opponents may continue to fight over these numbers. Research suggests that people who believe misinformation often resist correction.

Silly gun people.

But why is it so important to point out these over-inflated numbers in the mind of the public?

Because convincing people that there are really far fewer gun owners in the US than the think might then translate into reduced support for the Second Amendment. And because thinking there are more gun owners than there actually are might adversely affect attempts to pass more “common sense” gun control laws.

In the “post-truth” era, these exaggerated perceptions of gun ownership may make it easier for legislators to pass laws expanding gun rights. After all, if most constituents own a gun — and more will do so in the future — then supporting gun rights makes political sense. And these overestimates might even influence Americans’ beliefs about whether they themselves should buy a gun. After all, if you think most people own one, shouldn’t you be prepared as well?

See? All of you silly, numerically-challenged people have it all wrong. 

Members of the public who see their friends and relatives buying guns in record numbers, who see more gun ranges being built, shooting clubs prospering, and the number of carry permits soaring, may have a better understanding of the dynamics involved than the authors of the article.

©2018 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

Gun Watch


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  1. Just because someone doesn’t have a gun doesn’t mean they don’t support the 2nd Amendment.

    • What is more infuriating is the actual gun owner who still doesn’t support EVERYONE ELSE’S right to keep and bear arms.

      • Yup. If you believe that ANY class of people should be barred by the state from gun ownership, guess what? You view gun ownership as a privelege, to be granted or denied by the gov’t, rather than a right. In which case that’s fine, I guess, but be honest with yourself and everyone else about what you actually believe, and DO NOT complain about “mah rahts” when the state then considers restricting or removing YOUR privelege the same way you have been happy to watch them do to others

        • You have a right to be alive, the right to control your property, and a right to freedom of movement. Yet these can be taken from you if you commit crimes. If life, liberty, and property can be forfeited through criminal acts, it stands to reason that the right to keep and bear arms can also be forfeited.

  2. 25%?
    Does that mean we’re a minority group that must be protected at all costs?

    And anybody who disparages us in any way is just a bigot and guilty of a hate crime?

    • Transgender people (that is, people with actual gender dysphoria) make up less than 1% of the population and the feds move heaven and earth for them. Surely 25% of a 300K+ nation deserves some consideration

      • Yes, the total population is around 330 million, but how many of those folks are over 18, and what is the size of the population between 18-21 who have some restrictions on what they can purchase? Back in 2014, there were about 245 million adults, so now it is probably closer to 250 million. Which means that some percentage of 250 million people own 400 million guns. If we assume only 25% own guns, that’s still like 62.5 million gun owners, which works out to something in the neighborhood of 6 guns apiece.

        The purpose of the hit piece is to convince anti-gunners that if they just get out and vote, they can defeat the forces of (gun violence) evil. Good luck with that. When less (often substantially less) that half the population of eligible voters actually does so, and where as a rule gun owners DO vote, the statistics still suck except on the coasts.

        • “When less (often substantially less) that half the population of eligible voters actually does so,…”

          Mark, do not for one second discount how *pissed off* these Democrat voters are that Hillary didn’t win. And Trump has been *antagonizing* them on a regular basis. They are *motivated* to show up and vote.

          I’m more concerned our turnout will be low. Look, I hope I’m wrong. But I don’t think I will be…

    • I dunno about the “hate crime” nonsense… but those who want to use the force of law to infringe upon our civil rights absolutely are Bigots – and I love jumping on the comments of news story links to say so.
      Unfortunately, the WaPo wants money from me to have the privilege of telling them exactly how and why they are Bigots.

  3. It’s true because they said so!
    They want it to be so, because it makes them feelz safer.

    All praise the feelz!

  4. Why argue with this or any other MSM source? Fewer and fewer people are getting their news from them and little by little, Americans are starting to become a bit more engaged as to what’s really going on around them. Trump’s “Put America First” mantra accellerated that more than it already had been and it seems to be growing at a decent pace. The key is for people to remember that what they actually see happening, from immigration to taxes to Constitutional rights of all categories, is reality.

    I know it’s so much more easy to be cynical but if you stay there all the time you actually kill off your own ability to see improvements in the making and help them happen. I know there are a ton of the “real ones” on TTAG who know everything there is about the end of the republic but in reality, the left is scared to death right now. Does that keep them and their media lapdogs from acting optimistic? Nope, not even when they’re handed their own rear ends. The nay-sayers around here ought to be able to see it but then they’d have to admit their lack of political knowledge and mistaken “sky is falling” rhetoric.

  5. Wow. Seriously? And these people claim to be journalists? Can’t even get basic facts down? Seriously?

    I’m not sure why I’m still surprised, but I really am.

  6. I have only anecdotal evidence….I live on a street with 12 homes. Through conversations and observations I know that all 12 homes have guns.

    In our old neighborhood in Commiefornia (Monterey county), 14 out of 18 had guns.

    • Where I live I estimate gun ownership at close to 100%. If I was polled, I would say that I did not own any; yet 75% of people polled in a several counties admitted to owning firearms. And our county Sheriff’s Dept. is on record at refusing to participate in any Gov’t ordered confiscation. One can only hope it stays this way.

  7. The percentage of the population who exercises a particular right is irrelevant and absolutely not a reason to curtail, regulate or abridge that right.
    They are trying to lay a ground work for doing just that.
    Lest they forget, the idea of a constitutional republic is to protect the interests and rights of a minority, no matter how small that minority is.

  8. While the 95 % globalist owned press often quotes the scary N.R.A. member numbers as 5 to 6 million …… they know and are VERY aware that only a tiny percentage of gun owners are even members. — This ” Known – Unknown ” is what keeps Schumer / Finestine and their minions up at night.
    With the rise of the internet , we are no longer marginalized or feel isolated in OUR MAJORITY views, try as they might to portray theirs as the only ” correct thinking ” and widely accepted opinion.

    Bitter clinger and Deplorable labels did not work ….. so they are moving to paint all other opinions as a ” Mental Health Epidemic ”

    It is ” Improper ” to think in a way that THEY did not give permission for.


  9. Only 25% of Americans, are they only counting American adults (now 21+ in many areas), or kids? Most kids don’t or can’t own guns (unless you include gang members), so that skews the numbers. Do they include prohibited persons and incarcerated Americans? They can’t own guns, well, a lot of the prohibited persons do anyway. Really they would have to tally households, not people, as sometimes there is a gun or two per family, not necessarily per person.

    But this whole conversation is off, we are focused on guns, gun violence, gun crime, gun murders, gun owners, when we should be talking about law abiding citizens vs criminals, general crime, violence, murders. How many Americans own weapons of any kind? How many Americans are committing violent acts? How many of them are gang related, or done by non-citizens vs citizens? The gun is just a distraction, smoke and mirrors. What are gun rights? We spend so much time on gun rights, or restricting gun rights, it should just be rights, period. Are we free or slaves? We have to take back the conversation.

  10. Let the secret anti gunner politicians believe the lie, and show their true colors.
    The actual percentage of gun owners will make their displeasure known at the voting booth.

  11. ‘In reality, only about 25 percent of Americans own a gun…
    …convincing people that there are really far fewer gun owners in the US than the think might then translate into reduced support for the Second Amendment.’

    Not really. Only 13% of Americans are black. Does that translate into reduced support for the Civil Rights Act?

  12. Research suggests that people who believe misinformation often resist correction.

    TTAG should augment its current stable of awards with an “Anti Gun Irony of the Day Award”. This would win.

  13. I’m not sure that the Washington Post has really thought through these numbers. If they had, they would probably be silent about them.
    We know there have been increased NICS checks and increased firearms purchases. Of course, the progs say that is a minority of people, buying lots of guns.
    So let’s just go with the Washington Post number. Let’s let that sink in.
    Because the conclusion of that number is that roughly 75 million Americans are tooling way the fuck up. 75 million people are getting ready.

  14. I don’t own any guns. I don’t need a gun. Nobody needs a gun.

    Unless the government tells me I can’t have a gun. Then, I had better get a gun. Then, I’ll need a gun.

  15. We can argue till the moon turns blue about the exact number of U.S. gun owners but in my life time which has spanned almost 70 years I have seen gun ownership plummet to an all time new low. The young are especially anti-gun and few except rural people hunt anymore. Partly this is due to the ever shrinking places one can hunt without resorting to paying big bucks on a shooting preserve or risking ones life with the Morons on public hunting areas who shoot first and then put everyone around them in mortal danger. I know I have been through it all.

    At gun shows I only see aging dying grey bearded old men. Young people are are as rare as finding four leaf clovers. So when you get estimates of between 25 per cent to 34 per cent as being the gun owning population with 90 per cent of guns being owned by old time collectors which only make up 3 per cent of the population I would say through my observations over many years its probably very close to the truth.

    It must also be remembered that back in the 50’s and 60’s gun collecting of military weapons was very, very cheap. Today the price of guns have sky rocketed and the quality of the newer made weapons made of crappy junk plastic and stamped sheet metal put off many people who might otherwise take up the hobby of shooting or collecting. Ammo and powder prices also have now reached astronomical levels. I can remember paying $3.00 a pound for powder and now you can easily pay $22.00 a pound so even if you hand load ammo is still expensive. And wages certainly have not increased 7 times, as matter of fact they have stagnated for decades while the cost of living soars every year plunging the population to near starvation levels. That does not leave any room for gun collecting.

    When you consider the fact that peoples wages today are only a fraction of the purchasing power they had back in the 60’s its no wonder the hobby is now beyond the financial reach of today’s working poor who often are working part time minimum wage jobs and still qualify for welfare. Its actually that sad and shocking that we have now become the fastest growing 3rd world country in the world enslaved by the upper elite greed mongers who are responsible for millions of deaths due to a lack of affordable health care and affordable life saving drugs and they have even had the audacity to boldly declare that to pay for their new tax rape law that they will pay for it by eliminating what little health care and retirement benefits their troglodyte slaves still have.

    With today’s weekly mass shootings the majority of people think banning all guns is the only solution to the problem and since the majority do not even own any they could not care less if every gun is banned and confiscated and they think those that are against this are either paramilitary right wing Nazi lunatics or ignorant back woods hillbillies that still shit in out houses. And it does not help when people become terrified by right wing Nazi’s who march in candle light parades shouting racist epitaphs right out of WWII news real showing the WWII Nazi’s. They know there is no difference between the original Nazi’s and today’s Nazi’s. The Right Wing Fanatics mouth the same racist hatred that Hitler and his Nazi Thugs did. Incidents abound with Jewish grave yards in the U.S. being desecrated and Muslims being attacked in broad daylight and some killed. The Bus incident where two young girls were attacked by a Right Wing Fanatic who was filmed at many Nazi style rallies and who then killed the two men trying to save the girls only tend to convince people that do not own guns that the Right Wing Far Right cannot be trusted to own any weapons, firearms or even knives.

    The mass gangland shootings in our large cities are because we have never instituted universal background checks for all weapon sales. Every civilized Nation on earth requires this along with safe storage that keeps many guns from being stolen or from being left lying around the house so that 1,300 U.S. Children a year can be shot and killed with them. Yes when states with lax laws funnel 10’s of thousands of guns into our bigger cities it makes gun control laws a laughable joke. All this proves the gun owners are their own worst enemies because with all the death and carnage can you blame the public at large to be in a mass panic over gun ownership.

    The Supreme Court has now reversed themselves as of last summer giving all the States free reign to outlaw firearms ownership and confiscate them. Massachusetts Attorney General was even given the right by the courts to “rule by decree” and ban assault weapons with no law giving her the right to do so. It was right out of 3rd World Country dictatorship and California is now about to confiscate weapons and melt them down. They also ruled the right to self defense outside the home as not a right at all because again the corrupt courts ruling with public opinion have declared that their open carry bans will stand and so will their concealed carry bans as well and all blessed by the courts who vote according to public opinion.

    • “Blah, blah, blah, blah…”

      Just put a sock in it, Crisco.

      Nobody pays any attention to your nattering…

      • Every word he prints is a lie. Every word.

    • You’re 100% full of shit. If you were actually anywhere near 70, you would be hanging with grandkids, fishing, or just trying to have a normal bowel movement. You wouldn’t be be spending your declining time posting scripted anti-gun propaganda. Go troll the Disney Chanel forum where you might actually fool someone.

    • US gun ownership is likely up to about 60% of Americans now. All modern training says never to tell a stranger you have a firearm at home.
      This “25%” uses the same method that has been shown to only count 1/3 of people who have smoked pot, and 1/4 of people who are gay.

      the peer reviewed science, lots of it, shows over and over most accurate way to gauge high confidentiality issues is not direct, but indirect question method. Look at this:×367.png

    • Your kinda right and your kinda wrong. In this area gun purchases have increased. More wemon are armed then ever before around here. And the younger generation are zombie prepping. At times gun owners can be their own worst enemy, that is true. Health care does suck that’s a fact. And I’m sorry to say that no Supreme Court Judge should be able to take away what the Bill of Rights declare. Shall not be infringed, what’s that mean? Judge Urfucked and his merry men can change that, “I think not”, I say .

    • “..s but in my life time which has spanned almost 70 years I have seen gun ownership plummet to an all time new low. ”

      Have you now? I have never met you before and I have more guns now than I did twenty years ago so I am the proof of the error in your assertion. And to compound that error, more than half of my friends have bought their first firearm in the last ten years (many of them have more than one now).

      Maybe you need to get out more.

      • avatarChip in Florida says:
        May 9, 2018 at 07:10
        “..s but in my life time which has spanned almost 70 years I have seen gun ownership plummet to an all time new low. ”

        quote———————-Have you now? I have never met you before and I have more guns now than I did twenty years ago so I am the proof of the error in your assertion. And to compound that error, more than half of my friends have bought their first firearm in the last ten years (many of them have more than one now).

        Maybe you need to get out more.—————–quote—————

        No your in dire need of a remedial reading class. I was not stating how many guns that either you or I own or have accumulated over the years but rather how much the gun culture has declined since the years when it was a flourishing culture of collecting and hunting.

        Now pay attention Jethro this time I will give you a story so simple even you can fathom it. When I was in High School in the 60’s the first day of small game hunting just about every boy in class was absent with of course a parental ok slip singed and sent to the Principle. That meant that just about every boy in high school had a gun to hunt with. Today that is the reverse as the absenteeism on the first day of hunting season is almost absolute zero. Now in very rural areas this may not be true but in my area it certainly is today. Its just one of many examples I could give but to get through to you I had to give you a simple one.

        • cisco kid I don/t know what gun shows you go to or where. Last Saturday I was at a show, the parking lot was full, The line to get in was long and the place was packed, lots of 20’s and 30′ men. However, most striking were the number of women, women shopping hard and asking questions, several pairs that looked to be mother and daughter. As I said the women were shopping hard and many were buying. When I went by the transfer table 4 women were waiting in line and two were seated a he table. Prices were high (MSRP or more).

          The folks on the right don’t seem to be able to do the math or get a survey right, which is why they still can’t understand that Hillery lost.

    • The root cause of the debate is well stated by CISCO KID. if more people actually listened , maybe we wouldn’t be having this discussion. Also , have some respect for your elders. You know who I’m referring too. Rudeness resolves nothing !!

    • Uh huh. Right. Check out all of the dying greybeards in this gun show crowd:
      Gotta be three or four percent… And this is a real activist crowd. The one’s whose slogan is: “Take back the NRA.” Still, 4% vs 100% is good accuracy for cisco. He’s only off by 25X.

    • Great idea, universal background checks on all firearm sales. I suggest you start in Chicago with your registration plan for the universal background check on all sales. See how many blocks you make it before someone decides they don’t want to comply and demand you donate to their chump change account.

    • The mass gangland shootings in our large cities are because we have never instituted universal background checks for all weapon sales.

      You actually expect gangbangers and their friends and families to line up for background checks and just say “Oh, darn it!” when they’re denied? (If they’re denied.) Most of them are already prohibited under the current scheme, and they don’t care. They find ways to get what they want regardless of the law. Kind of goes hand in hand with the part where they’re criminals.

      You know who your universal restrictions WOULD have an effect on? You and me, and the vast majority of gun owners who are naturally inclined to obeying the law.

      Maybe you’re okay with being treated like a criminal when you’ve done nothing wrong, but I’m not.

    • Cisco- I work at least 20 gun shows per year in IA and MN. There may be a fair number of guys behind the small tables who are 60+ but the attendees trying to buy and trade are much younger, usually trailing kids as well.

      If I had any concerns about our folks it would be the horrible physical condition of many of them- grossly overweight and in some serious need of regular grooming. That’s where we could put on a better “face” for the general public, IMO. Not trying to denigrate anyone, just a casual observation from sitting at the front door of all these gun shows.

    • Funny that I see A LOT of young people at gun shows, and I go to a few. Also many Blacks and some Asians, etc. Oh, let’s not forget the large number of women going to the shows and BUYING GUNS.

  16. Yup they are right, not very many people own guns, like maybe 16 people own a gun, so now they can quit worrying about gun bans and go on to something else more constructive

  17. 25% of 325M is still over 81M people…
    and owning and having access are two different things…
    many gang members and other felons don’t technically own any guns…but they have access to them…just sayin’…

  18. “In reality, only about 25 percent of Americans own a gun.”

    Even if that were true, that would be likely easily more than half of households, if “Americans” means every citizen.

  19. I live in the heart of the liberal bay area and folks have guns. If I had to guess at a national number of gun owners it would top over 100 million. Easily.

    This shrinking number of old white guys being the only gun owners in America is an outright lie.

    But if the grabbers didn’t have lies, they’d have nothing.

  20. I think 25% might be an accurate number of gun owners. HOWEVER, we need to look at what it means to be a gun OWNER.

    In most homes that have a gun in the home, who OWNS the gun(s)? Guns are generally NOT treated as common property in a marriage, even though both spouses would have access to it. Most often, it is the Adult male. So of the total population, what percentage are adult males? I think about 40% percent of people are adult males.

    So using a 25% gun ownership rate, you end up with a gun(s) in about 60% of the households in America. This corresponds with our (gun rights advocates) estimates for households that have guns in America.

    Keep in mind that when there is a gun in a home, generally all the residents in that home support gun rights. So one can deduce from a 25% gun ownership rate that the number of folks who support gun rights is pretty close to 60%.

    • “Guns are generally NOT treated as common property in a marriage, even though both spouses would have access to it.” HA! Try telling that to your wife’s divorce lawyer… 🙂

  21. One of the fallacies of correlational research is that you can correlate anything with anything else and then claim you’ve done science. Chicken Little getting hit in the head with an acorn and then deciding the sky was falling is a good example of the weaknesses of correlational research. Most activist quoted “research” is correlational and about as valid as ‘ole Chicken’s famous “causal linkage”.

  22. An article on wrong estimates of gun ownership starts with a wrong number of attendees for the latest NRA convention … then argues that those pro-gun people are hard to convince?

    Well, with persuasion like that, yeah, I’m thinking they’re doing their part to roll back gun restrictions across the US. So, thanks guys.

  23. First…… Ha!

    “…But the discussion lacks some basic facts about guns in the United States. For example, how many people in the United States own a firearm? ” Followed by “…In reality, only about 25 percent of Americans own a gun.”

    Choose one. There are basic facts missing, or you have basic facts. You can’t have both options.

    Second…. Relevancy?

    “…But the discussion lacks some basic facts about guns in the United States. For example, how many people in the United States own a firearm? ”

    How is that relevant? Besides promoting more gun control, of what possible use is that data point?

    If the answer is 100 people, that means what, exactly? And how would it be any different if the answer were 100%? What possible formula or statistical model would you need any degree of accuracy for this data point?

    • Excellent point. Not 100% of our citizens need to worry about any one of their enumerated rights at any given time. The first ammendment, cherished by the media above all others, is only invoked when saying something unpopular or offensive. Un offensive speech doesn’t need any protections. If only a small percentage of people are excersising their rights under the 1st Ammendment does that undermine the Right as enumerated in the constitution? I don’t think so. But then again, progressives want the citizenry enslaved to their whims. It’s not about guns or violence or protecting children- it’s about control.

  24. “Research suggests that people who believe misinformation often vote democrat”.
    There, fixed it for them.
    This seems like a good time to quote Mark Twain:
    “A man who doesn’t read the newspaper is uninformed. A man who does read the newspaper is misinformed.”

  25. I own 5 guns , I’m 54 years old. That’s 1 gun per decade. I am not well off , just the opposite. Due to a fractured skull right out of college. At age 23 a mob of black thugs beat my head in with a golf club. I had a business and at the time was buying. SKS mil surplus unused in cosmoline for $59. I owned half a dozen , AK-47 a couple , shotguns several. Now as I said , 5 guns. I plan on keeping them. My point is , I did not advertise having them. The grabbers , uninformed Leftards , and many like minded uneducated read it & believe it types have no purpose in life , until they do !! They get a bone and fight over it , tooth & nail. They want our guns. Read the news . watch tv. The POTG need to stop bickering over this serious issue & fight tooth & nail to keep our weapons. Speak out , & vote. Put in some time educating the country that guns don’t shoot . people do. Save the constitution !

    • You got that right. Get out and vote pro-2A. Don’t miss an election.

      Taking anyone that shows an interest to the range helps too.

  26. Good evening. I’m with Advance Demographics, and we’re doing an anonymous consumer poll. Do you and your spouse work? How much did you spend on your most expensive computer and TV? What’s your estimate for the worth of your jewelry? Do you have prescription narcotics? How many guns do you owng? Do you have a safe, and if so, what’s the combination? Thank you for participating, and we will send a representative to visit while you are at work.

  27. The funny thing about rights is that in a perfect world the number of people that approve of that right is immaterial.

  28. You know what? Just say you have a gun and an alarm system. That is what I say. I have a gun and know how to use it.
    Try to come and get it.
    Stop declining your gun ownership it hurts our stance.
    If your neighbors object put up a sign “I HAVE GUNS NEIGHBORS DO NOT” (Good Idea but check with neighbors first LOL

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