Citation(s) from the GunPolicy.org literature library
Parker, Kim, Juliana Horowitz, Ruth Igielnik, Baxter Oliphant, and Anna Brown. 2017 ‘The Demographics of Gun Ownership - Gun Ownership is Most Common Among Men, Whites.’ America's Complex Relationship With Guns: An In-depth Look at the Attitudes and Experiences of U.S. Adults. Washington DC: Pew Research Center (U.S. Politics & Policy). 22 June
Gun Ownership is Most Common Among Men, Whites
About four-in-ten adults (42%) report that there is a gun in their household, with three-in-ten saying they personally own a gun and 11% saying they don't own a gun but someone else in their household does.
Gun ownership varies considerably across demographic groups. For example, about four-in-ten men (39%) say they personally own a gun, compared with 22% of women. And while 36% of whites report that they are gun owners, about a quarter of blacks (24%) and 15% of Hispanics say they own a gun.
White men are especially likely to be gun owners: About half (48%) say they own a gun, compared with about a quarter of white women and nonwhite men (24% each) and 16% of nonwhite women.
Like the gender gap, the education gap in gun ownership is particularly pronounced among whites. Overall, about three-in-ten adults with a high school diploma or less (31%) and 34% of those with some college education say they own a gun; a quarter of those with a bachelor's degree or more say the same. Among whites, about four-in-ten of those with a high school diploma or less (40%) or with some college (42%) are gun owners, compared with roughly a quarter of white college graduates (26%). There is no significant difference in the rate of gun ownership across educational attainment among nonwhites.
Regionally, Northeasterners stand out as the least likely to own guns: 16% of adults who live in the Northeast say they own a gun, about half the share who say this in the South (36%), Midwest (32%) and West (31%).
Across all regions, gun ownership varies considerably between those who live in rural and urban areas, with rural dwellers far more likely than those who live in urban areas to say they own a gun. Overall, 46% of Americans who live in rural parts of the country own a gun, compared with 28% of those who live in the suburbs and 19% of those in urban areas.
Besides demographic differences, clear partisan divides emerge when it comes to gun ownership. Republicans and Republican-leaning independents are more than twice as likely as Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents to say they own a gun (44% vs. 20%). This partisan gap remains even after controlling for demographic differences. Among the 11% of Americans who don't personally own a gun but live in a gun-owning household, relatively few (19%) say they ever use the gun or guns in their household.
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