Popularity of Gun Ownership in the U.S.

Popularity of Gun Ownership in the U.S.

The United States ranks #1 in gun ownership per capita. In a study done examining gun ownership among private citizens (barring military issued weapons) the U.S. clocks in higher than every other country in the world.

Between our 2nd amendment politics, trigger-happy action flicks and history of firearm innovation, this shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone.

What is it that makes gun ownership so popular in the United States? What drives innumerable scores of U.S. citizens to purchase guns at this unprecedented rate?


Skeet ShootingWhile some individuals view guns as conduits of death, others view them recreational devices. Many United States citizens enjoy hunting, trap shooting and visiting the firing range in their free time.

For someone who’s never been around guns before, their portrayal in the media can be terrifying. News cycles almost always include a bank robbery or murder via firearm and the depiction of guns in TV series/movies is almost always accompanied with violence. In effect, many non-gun owners think it impossible to own a gun and NOT be violent.

But this isn’t actually the case!

The above study claims that U.S. gun ownership per capita is 88.8 to 100. That means that there’s nearly 89 guns for every 100 citizens. That’s a lotta guns.

But compare this level of gun ownership with the rate of intentional homicides by country where the U.S. is ranked 92nd. Suddenly gun ownership per capita seems less representative of violence then it does enthusiasm and interest.

Gun ownership doesn’t correlate with gun-toting maniacs as much as many forms of media would have you believe. In a sense, guns are akin to bowling, skiing, rock climbing or music: they’re hobbies!

Bowlers purchase different balls that will probably never see the lanes. Skiers buy paris of skis and googles that will never hit the slopes. Musicians collect an abundance of instruments that they’ll admittedly never play and Rock Climbers amass insane collections of expensive gear that’ll never meet the face of a cliff.

In the same vein, most gun owners own multiple guns because they’re hobbyists and geeks! Sure, they’re nuts but they’re not insane as many would have you believe.

Whether they fall in love with a piece due to it’s rarity, appearance or functionality, they simply must have it. Old-faithfuls are always brought out to the range or the woods, while the special guns are in storage at home.


Just like any other antique or vintage item, firearms are collectibles that tell a story. The very first gun was produced in 1365 and their onset changed the face of human history.

Antique ColtFirearms convey a story. Whether it’s a highly personal tale or a physical bookmark of larger innovations, firearms are sought out by collectors for historical purposes.

The United States’s influence on firearms has not gone unnoticed. Remington, Colt, O.F. Mossberg & Sons, Smith & Wesson: all are firearms manufacturers founded in the U.S. and each has had a significant impact on the evolution and technology of firearms. Examples aplenty reside in Cody’s Firearms Museum – a subsection of Buffalo Bill’s Center of the West in Cody, Wyoming.

Until you’ve been to the museum yourself, it’s hard to fully appreciate the breadth and scope of firearms innovations that have unfolded over the years. The attention to detail, craftsmanship and engineering expertise required to make guns is almost unfathomable.

The fact that there’s an entire museum dedicated to guns is a testament to their historical value and importance. These objects serve as a chronology of technical innovations, while embodying the spirit of the wild west and American patriotism. It’s the reason why a collector will seek out a novelty 1800’s firearm while cherishing his grandfather’s WWII rifle.

Those who collect firearms and archive their relevance and emotion do so out of passion. Because so much of U.S. history is held in firearms and their ramifications, collecting guns is immensely popular here.


Mass media inevitably shape people’s opinions on gun ownership and gun owners, despite the fact that they rarely display everyday accounts of gun ownership! What we see are the extremes of guns and not their everyday utility.

For instance, gun ownership in less populated areas of the country is a perfectly sound endeavor. It provides people with a means of security when law enforcement is a great distance away, while also providing residents with a means of acquiring food.

This map shows gun ownership per household by state – the darker shades of pink represent higher rates of gun ownership:

Household Gun Ownership Rates MapSource: www.qz.com Quartz Media LLC.

Less populated states have higher rates of gun ownership! These aren’t necessarily people stockpiling weapons in anticipation of a zombie apocalypse, but citizens who view firearms as a means of security. Many of your own friends and acquaintances may own guns, but do not make it known in order to avoid stigmatization.

Constitutional Rights

We’re going to keep this as nonpartisan as possible.

ConstitutionPerhaps the most widely attributed reason for gun ownership in the U.S. is the 2nd amendment: “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms”.

Gun ownership is hotbed of controversy and politics, but it’s something that we must address in this article. In our opinion, the 2nd amendment triggers something of a chicken-or-the-egg debate:

Is the 2nd amendment the reason for widespread gun ownership, or do the threats posed to it generate interest in guns?

The 2nd amendment is a precursor to gun ownership. Without a constitutional right to do so, U.S. citizens wouldn’t be allowed to own guns in the first place.

What we’re referring to is the underlying sentiment of gun ownership. Do U.S. citizens buy guns in mass quantities simply because they can or do they buy them in response to a perceived threat? Gun sales usually rise in response to talks of new gun control laws. So is this correlation representative of all gun sales?

If you’re looking for us to give you a concrete answer, you’re out of luck. Sorry! Social psychologists and economists have tried to find the answer to this question for some time.

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