Complete and utter crap about gun ownership

The Washington Post, reporting a CBS News poll, claims:  ‘American gun ownership drops to lowest in nearly 40 years‘.

According to the survey, which was conducted among 1,001 Americans in the aftermath of the Orlando nightclub shooting, 36 percent of U.S. adults either own a firearm personally, or live with someone who does. That’s the lowest rate of gun ownership in the CBS poll going back to 1978. It’s down 17 points from the highest recorded rate in 1994, and nearly 10 percentage points from 2012.

. . .

But gun purchases, as measured by FBI firearm background checks, are at historic highs. And data from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms shows that gun manufacturers are churning out record numbers of guns. Many gun rights advocates argue that these figures mean that the overall number of gun owners is growing: If more guns are being sold, more people must be owning guns.

But the declining rates of gun ownership across three major national surveys suggest a different explanation: that most of the rise in gun purchases is driven by existing gun owners stocking up, rather than by people buying their first gun. A Washington Post analysis last year found that the average American gun owner now owns approximately eight firearms, double the number in the 1990s.

There’s more at the link.

This is, of course, a completely erroneous conclusion.  I can demonstrate that from my own experience.  As regular readers will know, I’ve trained disabled and handicapped shooters for many years.  I’ve helped well over a hundred people to obtain their first gun, often letting them shoot examples from my collection in order to make their selection, then showing them how to find one at a reasonable price, either from gunshops or via sources such as Armslist.  I’ve personally donated something like three dozen firearms over that period to people who couldn’t afford to buy them (disability income being notoriously low), and I’ve had friends (and even a couple of gun shops) do the same.  The recipients were all, without exception, new gun owners.

During the same period, I’ve watched (and sometimes helped) my friends introduce other new shooters to the safe handling of firearms, and assisted them to select their first (and often subsequent) guns based on their particular needs.  I’ve also built up long-standing ties with several firearms vendors, who all (without exception) assure me that over the past few years, they’ve been getting novices coming in to their stores in ever-increasing numbers to buy their first firearm for self-, home- and family defense.  Many are returning to buy more guns for other members of their family.

What I think this poll reflects is an entirely justifiable caution among gun owners.  “Let’s see . . . a total stranger has just called me, wanting to know whether I have guns in my home.  Suuuure, I believe they’re who they say they are and I trust their good intentions – NOT!!!”  Who’s to say the caller is, indeed, a pollster, and not a criminal wanting to pick the best possible target for his burglary?  There’s also the fact that we live in a politically correct environment where guns are being demonized by their opponents.  Why should we voluntarily identify ourselves as targets for such nonsense?  For that matter, if gun confiscation is potentially on some politician’s agenda, why should we identify ourselves as having something for them to confiscate?  (In my case it’s too late to worry about that, but for others, not so much.)

No.  I absolutely don’t buy the CBS News poll results, and I think the Washington Post’s analysis is way off beam.  Sure, existing gun owners probably have increased the size of their collections;  but there are also millions of new gun owners out there.  I’m delighted to say that I’ve helped well over a hundred of them to become such.  I’ll do my best to double that figure over the next few years!



  1. Ah, yes, the current narrative- that record gunsales are being driven by the current object of hate- white male homophobic conservatives.

    Personal observation time: I took a CCW class a few weeks ago. It was full up, and most of the people were brand new novice shooters.
    Half the class was female.
    Later, at the state office, most of the appointment slots for new permits were taken.

  2. We shot a qualifier the other day and a CCW class was using the next bay. 14 of 20 student were female and 3 were of the ladies were non-white. My last student was a female who came from Thailand and has purchased several pistols.

    There is no chance I would tell a phone interviewer I had any firearms in my home. The last few election cycles should demonstrate that people feel no need to tell the truth to pollsters.


  3. I'm in Scandinavia, which of course has different laws from the US, making gun ownership much more regulated, and handguns even more so. To have a handgun for targetshooting you need to be approved by the police as well as pass a introduction course at an established gun club.

    I have information from several handgun clubs that they are unable to accept all interested beginners. They simply dont have enough instructors or available loaner guns to accept everyone interested. In some cases they have four times more interested than available slots, and waiting times up to two years for the introduction class.

    This started a few years ago, before then they were discussing ways to get more people interested in the sport because they couldn't get any new members.

    Of course that doesn't include hunting rifles, but every indication I heard is that all the hunting classes are also filled up.

  4. I read an article this past week about this very issue. Brexit polling didn't predict the outcome due to the caution of voters.

    Not to mention a Gallup poll I was in that was intentionally skewed by the pollster. Polls about Christian non-profits take at 10AM on Sunday morning won't be quite the same as one taken almost any other time.

  5. Of course there are millions of us who tragically lost all our guns in recent boating accidents….

  6. I've not had a hand in quite as many new shooters as you, but I've averaged 5 a year for the last 5 years. The vast majority of them have gone out and bought guns… some have turned into gun nuts, and some just have that HD handgun or shotgun… those news stories just ain't accurate.

  7. those kinds of polls are worth NOTHING. No phone poll really is, any more, because it's not going to be a representative sample even if the responses are true.

    As you pointed out: if a stranger calls someone asking if they own guns, lots of people are not going to give the true answer. Because who knows for sure (even with caller ID; it can be spoofed) who is actually calling and why. A crook could be scoping out which houses have the good stuff….

    Also, many many people (I am one) do not pick up the phone if it is not a number they recognize. I suspect people who value their privacy more OR people who have caller ID are going to be undersampled in any kind of survey like that.

  8. "Of course there are millions of us who tragically lost all our guns in recent boating accidents…."

    A tragedy that terrifies many Democratic party supporters, because if the government goes looking for your lost guns, they are likely to also dredge up their murder weapons.

  9. Let's see a stranger calls you up and asks:

    Do you own guns?, or
    Do you support Donald Trump?, or
    Do you support same-sex marriage?, or
    Do you ….

    Lots of downside to answering the affirmative to some random caller, and no upside.

    If they wanted polls to continue to have validity, they shouldn't call people names or try to get them fired for having unfavored opinions.

  10. What Joe said. It's all about pushing the narrative. Nothing more. Marginalize and demonize. Bully and cajole. All part of the statist game plan.

    And they wonder why readership is falling.

  11. As StXar alluded to above, there's a little thing called the Bradley/Wilder Effect (q.v.).

    "Me? Own guns? Oh, not me!" (Goes back to cleaning guns.)

  12. Ever go to a thrift store and see those old gun cases with a glass front, room for 7 or 8 rifles, a few drawers? The ones no one uses anymore? The guns now are locked away in a safe somewhere. That is the simile for US firearms owners- we have been vilified by the left, and the leftist owned press, for at least 50 years- Why would we expose ourselves to more potential attacks?

  13. Guns? I don't have any of those nasty things… And I don't help people learn how to shoot either… And nobody I know has any guns either… 🙂

  14. My wild guess is that they pick areas that are anti-gun states/municipalities to start with, which will depress the gun-owner responses even more. These clowns know what they are doing.

  15. One of the reasons I got out of the marketing research/polling business is that I couldn't believe the numbers any longer. I just wasn't cut out to be a snake oil salesman.

  16. "Guns in the house? Oh, no, none at all." Pistols and rifles, maybe. Depends on who is asking. And Mom just took her shotgun to the trap range, so nope, no "guns" in the house.


  17. my answer to those questions? "What guns? I'd never have any guns, and I'd never vote for anyone that my party chairman doesn't tell me to vote for!"

    Because telling them to f-off might make them remember. Better still to never answer at all-i hang up the second someone says survey.

  18. Interesting how they don't bother to double check their data by contrasting it with the explosive increase in applications for conceal carry permits and such…it's not a perfect method, no, but it's *something*, and it would immediately tell them that their numbers were BS. Either way, I always find it amusing how these…people…think they can survey just over one thousand people and infer -from the answers given by those "carefully selected" folks- information about the other three hundred or so million citizens in America today. I know there is math to back it up, but come on, really? 1,001 people? Out of at *least* one hundred million adult citizens? *rubs temples*

  19. "Guns? Why are you asking about guns? Are you suggesting that I should get a gun? Why? What would I need a gun for?" Do you live someplace that you feel you need a gun? What gun do you suggest I buy? What gun did you get?"

    I think we've reached the point where not only are polls worthless, they're less than worthless – actually negative information – because polling has jumped the shark. Polls, properly done, are an earnest attempt at gauging impressions, albeit with a certain inescapable small range of potential error; polls today are done to create and influence those impressions. Many people haven't thought enough about "manufactured polling" to recognize this and still place some value (although that value is shrinking rapidly) on polling data; those are probably the steadily declining number of people who watch the nightly Big 3 network news shows.

    I still have a landline (a necessity for what it is that I do) and started getting beseiged nearly a year ago by pollsters. I now have a programmable "magic box" on my phone that eliminates all those calls; haven't heard from a pollster in 9 months. So much for "polling accuracy." As for other information requests, I haven't provided truthful information for those in 25 years because there is no legal requirement to be truthful if there is no intent to defraud.

    I've lost count of how many information requests i've gotten from friends and "friends of friends" in the past few years about guns, especially AR-family rifles, mostly from folks who may have had a "family pistol" in the house but also from a number who have never owned a gun before.

  20. What I find interesting is comparing the numbers.

    For years mainslime media have stated that there are somewhere between 100 and 150 million gun owners, with around 300 million guns.

    If the lower number is correct, and the average number is 8 per owner, then there are 800 million guns, not 300 million. Frankly, my guess is that the average gun owner has ~4 guns and that more than half of the people in these presently united States own them. Anecdotally, I know very few gun owners who own only one gun. This would be around 600 million firearms.

  21. Peter, as I understand it, the poll the Post cites was not a telephone poll but an actual knock-on-the-door poll, which makes it even more unreliable.

  22. Even if one takes all the numbers at face value. The internal numbers reported do not make sense. Supposedly 20% of gun owner own at least 10 guns. Now according to the 36% that own guns, that would be 7.2% who own 10 guns or more. So that accounts for at least 72% of the guns owned, surely a lot larger than that, if the numbers are to be believed. That leaves less than 28% of the guns amongst the 29% of the population. With should work out to be way less than one gun per gun owner. Hmmmm

  23. When I first started shooting IDPA a few years ago, 30 shooters was a great turnout.

    Our normal turnout these days is 50 people.

    The outdoor range I frequent used to only be busy just before hunting season. Now, it is always busy.

  24. Exactly. No one believes these polls are anonymous, not in the era of the NSA and data mining. And no one doubts that the media outlets running them are dishonest Democratic operatives with bylines. I never even bother to answer anymore.

  25. >"Let's see . . . a total stranger has just called me, wanting to know whether I have guns in my home. Suuuure, I believe they're who they say they are and I trust their good intentions – NOT!!!"

    EXACTLY! This reliance on public opinion polls run by random and unidentifiable persons, as a way to stampede public opinion in the cause of an agenda (or to uncover personal and private data, e.g. gun ownership) is absurd and something many people refuse to cooperate.

  26. First off, the anti gun crowd is desperate to marginalize gun ownership in the US.
    If they can convince themselves that gun owners are a fringe group it makes it easier to act against them.
    As for polls in general:
    Who are the pollsters asking?
    What is the specific wording of the questions?
    Is the polling organization or the entity hiring them impartial or do they have an agenda?
    And historically, how reliable have past poll numbers proven to be from the organization conducting the current poll.

  27. On those extremely rare occasions when I do pick up a call that looks legit and it turns out to be a poll, I ask them how much they pay.

    When I get the shocked response of "we don't pay", I ask them if they are getting paid to do the poll and where that money is coming from and if they are making money from me, why should I not also be paid. Then I'll ask for their home number so I can call them back at a time convenient to me. Strangely, that always seems to result in rudely just hanging up on me.

    Nope got no guns, back when I was homeless I had to return "home" and since I couldn't guarantee the safety of my firearms I buried them in the desert in AZ, or maybe it was NM, I think. In the intervening years, being an old fart, I have forgotten where and probably couldn't find the place again anyway. What a waste. If the economy hadn't sucked to the point where I lost my job and wasn't able to find another before going full homeless, I would never have done that, but safety first!!!!!!!!

  28. [Here's a little something I drew up several years ago based on a number of other people's thoughts, along with a few of my own. It answers this question quite well. Feel free to borrow it whenever you have a need]

    Yes… gun sales amoung brand NEW, never before gun owners has skyrocketed thru the past decade. You want "proof"?

    Okay… let's take a look at Illinois. Illinois requires ALL legal gun owners to have a FOID card. No card… no purchase of a gun (or even ammo). If you already have a FOID card then you can purchase all the guns you want without getting another FOID card for each gun. Therefore… New FOID card = New gun owner. Got that?

    Let’s see what the Huffington Post says about the massive increase in FOID cards over the recent past.

    "So far this month, more than 70,000 FOID card applications have poured in, putting March on track to be the record month so far for the program which began in 1969, reports the Associated Press. According to state police data, the number of total FOID card applications has been increasing steadily since 2010 with four months of record-breaking application numbers in 2012."

    And what does CBS News have to say?

    "Officials say state police received 338,610 FOID applications last year. In the first three months of 2013, applications are nearing 188,000, more than half of the applications received in 2012."

    You want something more recent and from another state? Okay with me.

    The Massachusetts “Class A firearms license” serves the same purpose as the Illinois FOID card. A current gun owner does not need a NEW license to buy a gun but a NEW gun owner does. So those with NEW Class As are NEW gunowners. And what has been happening in our dear liberal state of Massachusetts where it is very difficult to buy a gun?

    “The number of Class A licenses has increased by 104,150, or 44 percent, from five years ago.”

    Now… you can claim that all these new gun owners are all imaginary… I'd give it a read just for the amusement value.

  29. "Peter, as I understand it, the poll the Post cites was not a telephone poll but an actual knock-on-the-door poll, which makes it even more unreliable. July 3, 2016 at 6:45 AM"

    So let me get this strait some stranger with a clipboard walks up to your house and asks; "Got any guns?" That's what this survey is based on? really?

  30. Meanwhile, in the real world, every gun store I know locally is now doing CCW classes–and every single one of them is booked solid for weeks or months in advance. The indoor handgun ranges are bustling every weekend with a line out the door, and the people are probably more "diverse" than whatever New York or Washington polling firm thought this nonsense up.

    I live in an area that–well, for reasons of OPSEC, I will say that in this part of the country there are a lot of offices for some big corporations involved in heavy industry. And when I go to gun stores on the weekend and they're always full up, and most of the patrons are Indian and East Asian engineers who work for these big companies, I am pretty sure I'm seeing first-time gun buyers. They seem to love AR15s and Glocks.

  31. I submit that those participating in the poll were not completely truthful. What I mean is that 36% own or live with someone that owns a gun seems much too low, especially since NICS back ground checks have set records month after month for nearly a year. I propose the true percentage is more than likely double the reported percentage based solely on the back ground check information as well as that gun owners today do not necessarily wish for their ownership to be generally known. Digest that and think about the poll again.

  32. In 2009 Texas Hunter Education instructors graduated more than 40,000 new hunters for the first time since the program started in 1972. In 2014 and 2015 the number was up over 70,000.
    More females and minorities are taking the classes, and most of our Hunter Ed students are in their teens or tweens, a whole new generation of people of the gun.
    Also one of my most popular classes is "Buying Your First Handgun."

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