PRINCETON, NJ — 40-seven per cent of American adults currently report that they have a gun in their home or elsewhere on their property. This is up from 41% a year ago and is the highest Gallup has recorded since 1993, albeit marginally above the 44% and 45% highs seen during that period.
The new result comes from Gallup’s Oct. 6-9 Crime poll, which also finds public support for personal gun rights at a high-water mark. Given this, the latest increase in self-reported gun ownership could reflect a change in Americans’ comfort with publicly stating that they have a gun as much as it reflects a real uptick in gun ownership.
Republicans (including independents who lean Republican) are more likely than Democrats (including Democratic leaners) to say they have a gun in their household: 55% to 40%. While sizable, this partisan gap is narrower than that seen in recent years, as Democrats’ self-reported gun ownership spiked to 40% this year.
The percentage of women who report household gun ownership is also at a new high, now registering 43%.
Gun ownership is more common in the South (54%) and Midwest (51%) than in the East (36%) or West (43%) — a finding typical of Gallup’s trends in gun ownership by region.
One in Three Americans Personally Own a Gun
Since 2000, Gallup has asked respondents with guns in their households a follow-up question to determine if the gun belongs to the respondent or to someone else. On this basis, Gallup finds that 34% of all Americans personally own a gun.
The gender gap in personal gun ownership is wider than that seen for household ownership, as 46% of all adult men vs. 23% of all women say they personally own a gun.
Middle-aged adults — those 35 to 54 years of age — and adults with no college education are more likely than their counterparts to be gun owners.
A clear societal change took place regarding gun ownership in the early 1990s, when the percentage of Americans saying there was a gun in their home or on their property dropped from the low to mid-50s into the low to mid-40s and remained at that level for the next 15 years. Whether this reflected a true decline in gun ownership or a cultural shift in Americans’ willingness to say they had guns is unclear. However, the new data suggest that attitudes may again be changing. At 47%, reported gun ownership is the highest it has been in nearly two decades — a finding that may be related to Americans’ dampened support for gun-control laws. However, to ensure that this year’s increase reflects a meaningful rebound in reported gun ownership, it will be important to see whether the uptick continues in future polling.
Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Oct. 6-9, 2011, with a random sample of 1,005 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.
For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.
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