A summary of results from the 2021 National Firearms Survey was posted to the SSRN site back in July. I confess to missing it the first time around because I thought it was the same National Firearms Survey that was fielded by scholars at Northeastern and Harvard Universities this year (results from which about firearm purchasing during the COVID pandemic I commented on recently).
It turns out this is a separate National Firearms Survey, fielded by William English, a political economist at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business. I’m quite intrigued by the existence of this survey because I have never heard of William English in the field of gun studies and there is nothing in his scholarly background that indicates he would do work in this area.
To say this is certainly not a criticism of William English. People would have said the same about me 10 years ago, also. He seems to be an outsider to the field and I hope that will allow him to bring fresh perspectives to it.
Highlights of the survey from the SSRN paper include:
32% of American adults own a firearm
As with the other 2021 National Firearms Survey, this person gun ownership rate is closer to my estimate of gun ownership rates (33-37%) than other surveys like the General Social Survey. Both of the National Firearms Surveys of 2021 use opt-in participation from pre-existing panels, and this may help explain the more accurate estimates.
Of course, the estimate may also reflect an increase in the percentage of American adults who own guns due to the recent gun buying spree.
Gun owners are demographically diverse
57.8% of gun owners are male and 42.2% female.
34.3% of whites own firearms (constituting 82% of all gun owners).
It appears that a plurality but not a majority of gun owners today are white men.
Among racial minorities, 25.4% of Blacks own guns (10.6% of all gun owners), 28.3% of Hispanics own guns, and 19.4% of Asians own guns (3.6% of all gun owners).
30.2% of gun owners have owned an AR-15 style rifle
That’s some 25 million people. This is the first survey that I can recall that asked about ownership of this particular rifle. The results confirm its popularity.
48% of gun owners have owned 10+ round magazines
As gun rights advocates say, these are “standard” capacity magazines for many guns today.
56.2% of gun owners carry a handgun for self defense
At least in some circumstances. 26.3% are estimated to carry in public under a concealed carry regime.
31.1% of gun owners have used a gun in self-defense
Of these, 55.9% have done so more than once.
As is often observed, in the vast majority of these cases (81.9%) the gun is not fired. 25.2% of DGUs took place in the home and 53.9% outside the home but on their property.
The majority involve a handgun (65.9%) rather than a shotgun (21.0%) or rifle (13.1%).
Interestingly, just over half of the DGUs (51.2%) involved more than one assailant.