On March 9, the Associated Press reported the results of a pro-gun control survey to show that Americans are losing interest in guns.
In fact, according to the AP, “The number of Americans who live in a household with at least one gun is lower than it’s ever been.”
Using numbers gathered by the General Social Survey (GSS), the AP claims “only 32 percent of Americans either own a firearm themselves or live with someone who does.” This number “ties a record low set in 2010” and means that fewer Americans are buying guns.
Applied to individuals rather than households, the GSS numbers show that “22 percent of Americans own a firearm, down from 31 percent who said they did in 1985.”
There are some serious questions about these numbers.
For example, those behind the GSS survey appear to have strong pro-gun control leanings. The Crime Prevention Research Center (CPRC) reports that GSS principal investigator Tom Smith once told John Lott that the decline in gun ownership “implied” by GSS numbers “[made] it easier for politicians to do the right thing on guns.”
And in 2013, the CPRC reported that GSS received funding from the Joyce Foundation, a group “well known for its gun control advocacy” and one for which Obama served on the board of directors from 1994 to 2002. Politico reported that during Obama’s time on the board, the Joyce Foundation “doled out” various grants to gun control groups,” totaling $2.7 million.”
In addition to these things, the GSS numbers run completely counter to numbers and historical trends reported by Gallup since 2000.
A Gallup Poll conducted in 2014 showed that the percentage of Americans with a gun in their home was “44 percent,” yet the GSS survey–also conducted in 2014–reported a figure of “32 percent.” Moreover, while GSS suggests a decline in the number of Americans owning guns since 1985, Gallup shows a historical trend in the opposite direction beginning in 2000.
When Gallup asked if having a gun in the home made the home safer, 35 percent said yes in 2000, “42 percent” said yes in 2004, “47 percent” said yes in 2006, and “63 percent” said yes in 2014.
The AP did not include these Gallup numbers nor address the disparity between them and the GSS numbers.
On top of the CRPC report and the Gallup numbers, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) released a report based on firearms sales numbers from 2011 and 2012 that showed a “79 percent … increase in female customers.”
The GSS claim that the number of Americans buying guns is decreasing simply is not congruent with the NSSF findings.
Follow AWR Hawkins on Twitter @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.