Nearly one in every three Americans owns a gun, according to a recently published study in the journal Injury Prevention by researchers Bindu Kalesan, Marcos Villarreal, and Katherine Keyes of Columbia University, and Sandro Galea of Boston University.
The researchers conducted the survey of 4,000 adults in an attempt to answer the question of how many Americans own a firearm — and why — amid a lack of overall data and statistics on gun ownership. They found a broad regional variation in gun ownership — from as low as near 5% in some areas to as much as 66% in others. In individual states, this ranged from 5.2% ownership in Delaware to 61.7% in Alaska.
Here’s a map illustrating their results:
The researchers discovered the variation was due to everything from local and state firearm laws to cultural and social norms. Those who reported the prevalence of a “social gun culture,” in fact, were 2.25 times more likely to own a gun.
“In many parts of the country, these social norms include participation in social activities around gun ownership. These social gun cultures have rarely been formally studied but may be important determinants of gun ownership,” the study’s authors wrote.
In the Northeast, gun ownership was below the national average, ranging from 5.8% in Rhode Island to 28.8% in Vermont. In the Midwest and South, ownership ranged from 26.2% in Illinois to 57.9% in Arkansas. And in the West, just more than 20% of Californians own a gun, compared with about 57% in Idaho.
In their conclusion, the authors wrote that they found a “strong association between social gun culture and gun ownership. Gun cultures may need to be considered for public health strategies that aim to change gun ownership in the USA.”
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