On October 21, the Washington Post reported their estimate that the number of guns owned in America has doubled in the last 20 years.
They estimate “the average gun owner now owns 8 guns,” whereas the average gun owner owned “4.1 guns” in 1994.
The WaPo estimate sounds reasonable when you consider the fact that the Congressional Research Service reported gun ownership climbed from 192 million firearms in 1994 to 310 million firearms in 2009. Tack another four years of surging gun sales onto those figures, and the suggestion that guns owned doubled in two decades sounds reasonable.
At the same time, there is a significant problem with WaPo‘s estimate. Namely, that they are suggesting the new guns went to people who already owned guns. And doing this allows them to both admit the obvious—gun sales have been through the roof—while continuing to defend the left’s position that news guns are simply going to the same circle of gun owners who have been buying them for years.
You can see this from the sources the WaPo used to reach their estimate. They used “data from surveys” like Gallup and the General Social Survey (GSS), together with numbers from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF).
Gallup puts household gun ownership at 43 percent today, while the GSS puts it at 32 percent. Moreover, GSS is a gun control survey, inasmuch as it has literally received funding from gun control groups in the past, and one of their ongoing claims is that the number of people who own guns is actually declining.
In fact, GSS suggests there has been a decline in the number of Americans owning guns since 1985.
In 2013, the Crime Prevention Research Center (CPRC) reported that GSS’s 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.”
So, after using a group like GSS as a source, it should come as no surprise that one of the explanations the WaPo offers for the doubling of the number of guns owned in American is that “a small percentage of gun owners own a huge number of guns, which brings the average up for everyone.”
Follow AWR Hawkins on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.