Someone stopped by searching for “what percentage of Americans have guns.”
Have is an interesting word in that context. Have implies “immediate possession.” Other terms for the same thing would be “carrying,” “within reach,” and a host of similar meanings. At two o’clock in the afternoon of any given day, there will be approximately ten million Americans out and about lawfully carrying a gun on their person. In addition, there will be a few thousand criminals illegally carrying.
But how many carry a life preserver in their car’s console or under the drivers seat, how many have one stashed under their pillow or on a nightstand is one of the great imponderables.
However, I suspect the question is for either “how many Americans own guns” or “how many Americans have guns in their homes.”
For the first question, the polling organizations ignore the pervasive fear of gun confiscation after 1968 to come up with a households-with-guns number between 36% and 55%. That percentage clearly depends on the amount of media pressure for gun bans. Of course, people who feel they have a strong reason to deny gun possession will lie. So the pollsters uncorrected telephone polling starts with a fatal flaw.
What is needed is a corrective factor, a multiplier in this case, to bring the polls numbers back to reality. Starting with a database of individuals known to be gun owners only about two thirds of respondents will admit there is or ever has been a gun in the house. When all the t’s are crossed and the i’s dotted, plus or minus 3 percent, about 79% of Americans households have at least one gun in the house.
At that rate, approximately 88 million homes contain at least one gun, and 240 million Americans have immediate, at home access to at least one gun.