Gun ownership surges to 39%, ending 4-decade slump

By |
Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets,Gun Control,National Rifle Association,Joe Biden,Michael Bloomberg,Firearms

The slow drop-off of households owning guns has ended, rebounding in a new poll to 39 percent, up five points from the latest survey.

A new Economist/YouGov poll said that nearly 4 in 10 American households have guns, with 56 percent claiming not to have one.

That is a sizable uptick from the four-decade drop in household ownership charted by the authoritative General Social Survey. It pegged household gun ownership at 50 percent in the 1970s, 49 percent in the 1980s, 43 percent in the 1990s, and down to 35 percent in the 2000s. The latest 2012 statistics put the share of households with guns at 34 percent.

The next General Social Survey is set for release this year. It is funded by the government through the National Science Foundation. Considered more reliable than phone surveys, gun advocates say that surveys like those conducted by Economist/YouGov are more timely and are capturing the shift in the nation's view of personal weapons.

The rebound comes as many are rushing to buy guns before states put more limits on ownership. It also reveals a gun-buying trend that started last year when President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Senate Democrats and Michael Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor, pushed for widespread gun control, new background checks and the elimination of sales of semi-automatic rifles, the most popular style of rifle sold.

The Economist/YouGov survey revealed a partisan split among gun owners. Some 30 percent of households with guns are Democrat and 49 percent are Republican.

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at pbedard@washingtonexaminer.com.