How Many Individuals and Households in the United States Own Guns?

Although I’ve addressed U.S. gun ownership levels previously, I realize that I have done so by looking at percentages of individuals and households rather than numbers. Given changing population sizes (the all important denominator), percentages are usually the relevant indicators.

But sometimes you want to know the actual number, so I am posting this to have these numbers handy when people ask. (How I calculated these numbers after the photo illustration.)

Minimum estimates for 2019 are:

# of Individuals in the United States who own guns: 76,414,161.

# of Households in the United States that have guns: 47,892,051

# of People in U.S. Households that have guns: 125,956,094

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Women, the NRA, and Gun Culture by Noah Schwartz

Although I was not a fan of NRATV generally, there were some programs I thought did a good job of trying to “build bridges, not walls.” Among these were shows aimed at incorporating more women in gun culture. So I was excited when I came across an academic article — “Called to Arms: The NRA, The Gun Culture & Women” in Critical Policy Studies — that analyzed some of these programs like Love at First Shot.

I was going to write a summary of the article, but then it occurred to me that the author himself might do a better job of sharing his ideas on the topic. I am pleased that Noah S. Schwartz (see about the author at the end) agreed, and his thoughts are below.

(If you cannot access the original article behind the paywall, send me an email and I can send you a copy for educational purposes.)

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“Live” Tweeting the Gangster Capitalism Podcast on the NRA

Following is a long Twitter thread I wrote while listening/reacting to a podcast series called Gangster Capitalism which focused this season on the current crisis of the National Rifle Association (NRA).

I went into it skeptically, since the NRA is often misunderstood and hatred toward it takes general biases toward guns in the media and turns them up to 11. But in the end I found the series largely accurate (to the extent that I know what is going on in the NRA) and only disappointing in a couple of places, notably in its final conclusion.


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On “The Political Weaponization of Gun Owners” by the National Rifle Association

The political power of the National Rifle Association (NRA) is both frustrating to and badly misunderstood by many of its critics (as I highlighted recently in response to PBS Frontline’s program on the NRA).

According to Barnard College political scientist Matthew Lacombe, much of the legislative strength of the NRA is due to its ability to politically mobilize guns owners on its behalf. And key to that political “weaponization” has been the cultivation of “gun owner” as a social identity in the first place. (An identity I reflected on from my own perspective in my previous post.)

Here I discuss his recently published article, “The Political Weaponization of Gun Owners: The National Rifle Association’s Cultivation, Dissemination, and Use of a Group Social Identity.” Unfortunately the article is not available open access, but if you would like a copy for educational purposes, let me know.

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Golfers, Gun Owners, and Social Identity

Whenever someone asks me, “Are you a golfer?” I offer a canned response: “No, but I play golf.” I resist the label golfer. To embrace it seems to heighten expectations in an uncomfortable way.

The same can be said of the label gun owner. Do I own guns? Yes. Is being a gun owner central to my identity? Not really.

In fact, the Pew Research Center’s 2017 report on “America’s Complex Relationship with Guns” highlights differences in the centrality of owning guns to people’s identities. About half of gun owners say being a gun owner is very (25%) or somewhat (25%) important to their overall identity, and half say it is not too important (30%) or not at all important (20%).

Source: Pew Research Center, “America’s Complex Relationship with Guns” (2017).

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Not So Hidden Humor in Gun Owners’ YouTube Videos by Connie Hassett-Walker

In my work on gun culture, I have systematically avoided collecting systematic data on gun culture online. True, I have spent time with and attended a seminar by YouTube star John Correia of Active Self Protection. But I just don’t have the stomach to wade into many online gun forums or follow too much gun social media.

Fortunately, other scholars are braver than I am. Among them is Connie Hassett-Walker. Following on her recent book, Guns on the Internet (Routledge, 2019), she offers some examples of and reflections on humor in gun owners’ YouTube video here.

In the conclusion to her book (and in an essay on The Conversation), she issues “The 100 YouTube Video Challenge.” Designed to inspire open-mindedness and empathy for those on the other side of the gun debate, the challenge entails watching 100 YouTube videos “showcasing something from the opposing side.” Not only that, “but identifying three things in the videos they watch to which they could relate” (p. 131).

Here she gives those on the gun control side 8 pro-gun videos to get them started toward their 100. Please suggest other videos from either side of the debate in the comments.

By Connie Hassett-Walker

I imagine what you’re thinking. ‘Gun videos’… ‘humor’… what?

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A COVID-19 Handgun Purchasing Boom? – By Trent Steidley

In his third and final guest post in this series (see his first and second), Trent Steidley takes up the claim that the COVID-19 gun purchasing spree of March 2020 was driven by handgun purchases (a claim I made myself, which helped begin this dialogue).

Was March 2020 the best month for handgun sales ever?

Handguns for sale at Frisco Gun Club, Texas. Photo by David Yamane

By Trent Steidley

NARRATIVE #3: March 2020 was the best month for handgun sales ever.

This is technically correct (and if you watch Futurama you know this is the best kind of correct).

By MOODMAN from giphy.com

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