Who are the most fearful people in America? Can you guess? Let’s see if your instinct was correct.
Just 3% of Americans own half the guns — that little group owns 133 million guns. I know, that is an incomprehensible number all by itself, but double it for how many guns are floating around America. Incredibly gun ownership has declined. In the 1970s a majority of households claimed gun ownership but as of today two-thirds of American households are gun-free.
That 3% of Americans who own half the guns amounts to 7.7 million “super-owners.” In other words, individuals in this group own between 8 and 140 guns — on average 17.
According to surveys, somewhere between 22-31% of American households harbor a gun. Who are these gun owners, and correspondingly, who are those that do not own guns?
- Gender matters:45% of gun owners are male, just 19% female.
- Income matters:the highest number of gun owners are in the +$100,000 a year group (38%) while the smallest cohort has incomes under $40,000 (25%).
- Race matters:38% of whites own guns but just 18% people of color.
- Location matters:the highest gun ownership is in the South (40%) and the lowest in the East (21%); with town/rural areas at 48% compared to big/small cities at 23%.
- Politics matter:Republican 50%, Democrat 18%.
- Ideology matters:Conservative 45%, Liberal 15%.
Very good friends of mine hunt, I did it once myself. Hunters may have a few guns just as those who fish have more than one rod and reel for the kind of fishing they will do. But hunting does not require 17 or more guns. Only people who are very scared or preparing to be violent, or both, need so many guns. These statistics do not include gun buyers and businesses, and may be somewhat skewed by antique gun collectors.
Statistically rural, white, conservative Republicans — who represent the highest rate of gun ownership — are among the least likely people in the nation to become a victim of gun violence. The vast majority of gun violence and deaths happens within relatively small social networks in a few urban areas. Get this, over 50% of murders took place in just 127 cities and towns that make up less than 25% of the total population. For a powerful example, in Chicago, with one of the worst gun violence records, 70% of non-fatal shootings and 46% of murders took place within a social network that constitutes less than 6% of the city. Even so, surveys indicate that three million people walk around daily with concealed, loaded guns while nine million do so once a month or more. Why are these people so scared?
There is Tucker Carlson, of course, who in June on FOX news warned that the Black Lives Matter “mob” was “coming for you.” Such racial and ethnic fear-mongering goes back generations, raising up supposed enemies within the nation to alarm those most susceptible to being frightened about “the other.” This is done in order to use that fear for political and economic ends. Follow the money and find the scoundrels. Over-abundant gun ownership is a symptom that itself has become a problem. Minimally the Supreme Court needs to uphold New York’s gun law.
All these statistics are quoted from The Gallup Poll “What Percentage of Americans Own Guns” 2020; and, The Guardian, “The Gun Numbers” November 15, 2017.