From “Reason” magazine.

Your comments, as always, are invited.


  1. Well, you’ll never see that survey mentioned on the nightly news or The View. If I had to guess, I would say that the estimated number of greater than 10-round capacity magazines is low. Lots of people have lots of magazines for every gun they own. In addition, many defensive firearm uses never get reported to the police. The defender was carrying without a permit because they couldn’t get one and/or knows they would get jammed up by anti-gun local officials.

  2. Very interesting. But, I have to wonder how many folks who did own guns said they didn’t in the survey. I actually checked my copy of my thesis and back in 1975, about half the population admitted to owning firearms. I’m not sure if the difference (32% cited in Reason) is the result of an attitude change (or not wanting to go through the bureaucratic hassle) in the population, a lack of trust in surveys or possibly a bit of both.

    Speaking of which, while I’m not sure I’d participate, I have to wonder why I’m never part of a “representative sample”.

    I doubt the results are going to change any/many minds, but it’s very refreshing to see the points made brought up in that venue. Would that it saw much wider distribution.

    • I’m trying to find where I read it, but I recall seeing a report (not necessarily a “study”) that as the population has urbanized more since the middle part of the last century, fewer number of individuals own more of the guns versus a time when every farmer had various guns in the home for hunting, varmints, etc. That could we be anecdotal, though. And, I could be remembering something that was never there. (Sucks getting older…)

      A more likely reason for the number going down is the current political climate. The term “witch hunt” has a particular meaning these days, but setting that side, it does appear, based on actions and words, that the modern Democrat party is on a “witch hunt” to find and root out all gun ownership. I can see that as a very valid reason why someone would lie on a survey about owning guns but still provide other valid data points.

      • every farmer/rancher and his kids had guns when my Dad was one of the kids who had his own gun. Shooting them was as common as roasting hot dogs. And some of those “kids’ were amazing shots. My Dad’s littlest sister, at about six or seven, made the boys at school mad because she was a better shot than most of them. WIth borrowed guns cause she did not yet have her own!!
        And one of her big brothers, not my Dad, ended up a Marine sniper in the Pacific Theatre during the Second German War. He learned his skill as a kid with bolt action single shot .22’s, and maybe his Mum’s ancient Winchester lever action octagon barrelled rifle.

        I also am convinced the numbers on standard cpacity magazines are very low. Bear in mind, at the time of this survey, many states were considering outlawing such magazines, and folks were very chary about admitting to owning any. My state have since banned them for new purchase, but existing ones they can’t do a thing about (something about “ex post facto” being verboten and ll…….) I’d be surprised if even ten percent of the respondents did NOT own such valuable and necessary “accessories”.

  3. Maas
    We all know that this survey doesn’t fit the narrative the media is being paid to push, so it will never be posted on the mainstream feed.

    All we can do, is to keep treading water and force the issue by electing pro-gun politicians at local, state and national levels. We can also help by donating to groups like the 2nd Amendment Foundation, and state and national gun organization. By working together, we can make a difference.

  4. Seems perfectly reasonable that white males should be vilified based on the study. Sure glad they didn’t ask about age or education (much less veterans status).

  5. Hmmm, an “online survey”, eh?

    I’m sure this one was very scientific and accurate but who actually fills out an online survey for anything, especially guns and gun use?

    Yep, I can see myself answering all kinds of gun questions on the internet. Sure.

    Phone surveys? Do people actually answer the phone if they don’t see who the caller is? Do they then answer gun specific questions over the phone?

    It will always be difficult to get a reasonably accurate survey and survey responses with gun people. We are suspicious of anybody unknown who may have an ulterior motive and just plain would like to be left alone.

    • @ AW Dulay – “…but who actually fills out an online survey for anything, especially guns and gun use?”

      This survey may be more accurate then many here suppose. The people who did this survey were well aware that gun-owners may be reluctant to complete a survey truthfully. Therefore, they used a number of techniques to counter that bias. First, they made it anonymous so that people would feel free to give truthful answers. Then, they used a number of techniques to screen out responders who were feeding them B.S. I won’t go into all the details of what they did. I recommend that you download the full report and read it. It details the counter-bias techniques used to make the survey more accurate.

      So, I would not dismiss, out-of-hand, this survey on account of reporting bias. I expect it is reasonably accurate.

      I agree with the people who say that the Anti-American Media will bury it. The Left, and their media attack dogs, push a set of stereotypes concerning gun-owners and guns. For example:

      1) All gun-owners are ignorant, white, male, rubes who cling to “their guns and religion” because they are losers in the modern “utopia” that the Left is building. See the link below. This survey refutes this lie by showing that gun-ownership cuts across all races, sexes, and education levels. Gun owners are as diverse as the Left pretends to be.

      2) This survey shows that AR-style rifles are commonly owned and are used for a broad range of sporting, hunting, target shooting and defensive purposes. The same with normal capacity magazines. This is contrary to the Left’s stereotype that these items are “weapons of war” fit only for “mass murder”.

      3) The Left pushes the narrative that firearms are dangerous even for self-defense. That a firearm owned for defense is more likely to be turned upon its owner than to be used defensively. In contrast to this lie, the survey shows that firearms are used about 1.6 million times per year for defense.

      Indeed, here are a couple of quotes direct from the survey itself:

      “…in the vast majority of defensive gun uses (81.9%), the gun was not fired. Rather, displaying a firearm or threatening to use a firearm (through, for example, a verbal threat) was sufficient. This suggests that firearms have a powerful deterrent effect on crime, which, in most cases, does not depend on a gun actually being fired or an aggressor being injured.”

      “…about half of defensive encounters (51.2%) involved more than one assailant. Presumably, part of the value of using a firearm in self-defense is that it serves as a force multiplier against more powerful or more numerous assailants.”

      Of course, to most gun owners, the above is obvious. It is rather like reading a study in which the researcher breathlessly announces that water is wet or that the sun is bright! 🙂

      Still, this survey blows the myths and stereotypes, pushed by the gun-grabbers, out of the water. Since firearms-prohibition is a favored narrative of the Anti-American Media, they will bury this survey deep. It is counter-narrative and, therefore, counter-revolutionary. Therefore, it must be suppressed.

  6. Thanks for the article. Gary Kleck is verified yet once again and by the opposition no less. Not holding my breath the gun grabbers will relent though….

  7. The survey discussed in the article is based on such huge sample that it could be considered the “last word” for those opponents of 2A bold enough to demand numbers, were they rational and honest. Every lawmaker who is a proponent of 2A rights should carry of copy of this article; in fact, a copy on one’s person or electronic link on one’s phone could come in handy for anyone having to occasionally “defend” 2A rights.

    I am surprised at what seems to be a relatively low percentage of firearm ownership, but like another commenter on this forum suggests, perhaps not everyone owning firearms was forthcoming with some information. That means that roughly two-thirds of the population is vulnerable during any given hour of any given day, whether they are aware of it or not. Imagine two-thirds of the population electing to not wear seatbelts.

    The necessity of firearms having to be used for defensive purposes 1.7 million times a year is an astonishing stat–both comforting (that the defenders were able to defend) and discomforting (that the defenders were forced to defend)– providing a fair gauge of the declining state of personal safety within a declining state.

    Fifty-eight percent of firearms are owned by males? Okay–surprising–and way-to-go ladies!

    Having lived in WV for more than three decades, I gave an eye roll when it came to the “over 50 percent” ownership finding, a statistic that seems sorely underrepresented, at least based on my admittedly subjective experience as a former citizen of that wondrously beautiful state.

    At the risk of being a Fudd suspect, I admittedly have never owned an AR-15 style rifle and remained fairly ignorant about that platform for many years–so much so that I finally “got it” as that ignorance was slowly informed by facts. Upon first hearing that this platform can make for an effective home defense option, I reacted with more than a little skepticism.

    But I slowly acquired more knowledge about the gun and ballistics to understand why many would choose it for home defense, all depending on the environment in which it may have to be used; yet, I remain surprised that more than 60 percent of AR-15 style platform owners elect to use it for that purpose. That’s a “Wow!” in my book.

    I still elect to rely on that old-school artillery piece, the pump shotgun, set up specifically for that purpose, used in conjunction with a quality handgun–“infantry and artillery,” fully willing to admit that a good debate can be had about “AR” vs. shotgun for home defense.

    I believe I first heard the concept of the long gun as “artillery” and the handgun as “infantry” from Mas Ayoob, in one of those great podcasts of yore, originating from Florida. So, thanks for that, Mr. Ayoob, and another thanks for directing me to this article containing the results of this magnum opus of a survey.

    • I’ve always felt uncomfortable holding any of the AR platform rifles, thought about the AK styles, but not crazy about the round they chew on. FInally, wanting SOMETHING that would spit the 5.56 round, I happened across a very clean sweet early Ruger Mini 14 Ranch rifle. I love that thing. Very handy and comfortable for ME, which is the only thing that matters. Just as accurate and fast as an AR, same fodder to feed it, does not “look” black and scary……. put a small optic on it, and that’s a good setup for ME.

      May one day see if I can’t get some help/advice and build from scratch an AR pattern rifle that feels comfortable for ME. Until then, I’ll stand pat with what’s ready to hand.

      • @Tionico,

        I’ve never even held an AR, not due to any particular aversion to them, just never had the inclination to do so. Obviously, they remain the most popular rifle platform in America for very good reasons.

        What’s not to like about the MINI-14/RANCH?! Like the classic style and the old school walnut and blue (but stainless will do) and that tough Ruger quality. Agree with you about the AK rounds–the guns themselves are appealing IMO, and one can’t argue with the workhorse success of that platform, either.

        Came close to buying a MINI-14/RANCH more than once–the only thing that held me back during my most recent flirtation was discovering (or recalling?) that they are 1:9 twist. Although accurate, I realize they are not heralded as precision shooters, but I would like a 1:8 ideally, or a 1:7 were they available, allowing for a wider range of ammo options, in theory at least. You are right on about the perception gap between the AR and MINI-14/RANCH, one being perceived as “mean,” the other “kinder, gentler, almost folksy” and certainly far less scary–another interesting spin between perception vs. reality.

        That said, your comment has awakened a “Well, maybe” in me, so perhaps I’ll take the plunge at some time moving forward.

        Hope you enjoy the heck out of yours!

        Best wishes!

      • T buddy:
        Friend Tionico: One factor that MAY recommend the AR-15s over the Mini-14 types is that the Mini-14 MAY tend more to cook off (braaaaap! clank! “What the heck?”) when hot during intense firing of a lot of rounds. I base this on comments by a late, highly experienced Marine and gunsmith I knew who mentioned repeatedly that the M14 Service Rifle tended to cook off when hot. I do believe similarities do obtain between the actions of the Mini-14 and the M14. Expert gunsmiths will have more learned insight than I on this subject.

      • @ Strategic Steve – I can see how the M-14 might cook off during extended firing. It was chambered in a powerful, round (7.62×51 NATO) and could be fired fully automatic.

        However, I doubt that a semi-automatic Mini-14 (in 5.56 NATO) could be fired fast enough for that to be of concern. I took a rifle course, some years ago, with my Mini-30 (basically, a Mini-14 chambered for the 7.62×39 Russian round). During the course, I fired several hundred rounds in a single day. There were no problems with cook-off or, really, even over-heating.

        Cook-off is something that troubles the military when shooting fully automatic weapons. I doubt that it should be of concern to a civilian shooting semi-automatic rifles.

        Heck, with the cost of ammo today, few of us could afford to shoot a firearm fast enough to cook it off even if we could! 🙂

    • Glenn in TN,

      I also like pump shotguns for defense. Buckshot amazes me, because it is both an effective fight stopper AND somewhat safe to use indoors. Those nine or so pellets go out and hopefully into the bad guy, and make him stop attacking more quickly than one bullet from a handgun. If a round lead buckshot ball misses the bad guy, and enters a wall, it should stop sooner, and do less damage than a 9mm X 19mm round, I hope. So, amazingly, buckshot could be more lethal, and yet more safe, than a handgun round, when used defensively inside a home.

      This paradox reminds me of Wrangler Jane (Melody Patterson) of the 1960s TV show, “F Troop.” She was trying so hard to be a tomboy, wearing buckskins, carrying guns and riding a horse, and yet she was SOOOO feminine at the same time! Amazing!

      • @Roger Willco,
        Certainly agree about the shotgun. Prefer the idea of “trading” 8 or 9 rounds per trigger pull vs. one–good math.

        Now that’s a memorable paradox! Very funny show–silly but entertaining. I recall passing by the leftover set of the F-TROOP fort while traveling to or from California in the late 1970s.

        Best wishes!

  8. Thank you, Mas, for pointing us once again in the direction of good information.

    RE percentage gun ownership…I’m inclined to agree that some (maybe many) people will be inclined to say no, even if they own a firearm. I wonder if that’s why the “or previously owned” clause came in — in the hopes that some of those people would be more inclined to say yes.

  9. I think often people say, “The gun saved my life. He was threatening to murder me.” But I suspect that in many of those cases the victim could have bought off the criminal by submissively allowing the criminal to treat him like a slave for the moment (constraining his movements, taking the fruit of his labor without consent, etc.) That is what most anti-gunners want crime victims to do.

    And it might or might not be safer for crime victims to throw their lives upon the mercy of violent criminals. (They’re certainly safer from the criminal justice system.) But in one sense, it’s like the increased safety achieved by the proverbial young single man who heard about the attack on Pearl Harbor and quickly went home to shoot off one of his big toes so he wouldn’t be subject to the draft. _He_ was safer, and the Japanese may be been a little safer, but other Americans ….

    One argument is that all lives are of infinite value, so any other consideration should be sacrificed for that. Such a view would make Abraham Lincoln the biggest war criminal in American history — because 600,000 deaths could have been avoided merely by letting the slave owners have what they wanted. (I’m not arguing that Lincoln was a war criminal; my point is that there are indeed other considerations that can overrule the choice of life at any cost.)

    • Esteemed fsilber: Abraham Lincoln was a railroad lawyer who was afraid that allowing division of the Union by secession would expose the American landmass to conquest by England, which would undermine the success of the American Revolution. You can bet that very few politicians ever imagined pre-war the eventual scale of destruction of the Great Unpleasantness. No telling what would have happened later regarding England without The North resisting secession.

  10. Some very interesting results.
    It sort of proves that politicians do NOT know wht they are talking about.
    Enacting laws & regs for nothing more than “FEEL GOOD”, PLUS POWER.

  11. i dunno, recreation shooting and competitive shooting are all in one the same to me. additionally, if i get a call from an unknown person who wants to talk about guns, i may direct the conversation towards religion or sex.

  12. That article was weird. All those cold, scientific facts. Looking at all those numbers made my head hurt. I’m afraid science and facts don’t move my emotions. I’m used to communicators trying to make me feel scared, or sad, or hopeful or full of joy. That writer needs to learn how to get touchy-feely. Don’t write about guns. Write about rainbows, unicorns, meditation, singing “Kumbaya,” and “Imagine.” Tell us about the utopia our wonderful, caring leaders are building for us. A place where we will no longer pollute Mother Earth, but live in harmony with her. Ahh, now I feel rapturous!

      • Thanks, TN_MAN,

        Yes, I am indeed in awe of Tom606’s humor. He cracks me up. The above is an attempt to mimic his style. I’m learning from the Master, and I’m very happy with that one. But, I still anticipate seeing what HE will come up with next.


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