2021 National Firearms Survey: Updated Analysis Including Types of Firearms Owned

46 Pages Posted: 18 May 2022 Last revised: 28 Sep 2022

See all articles by William English

William English

McDonough School of Business, Georgetown University

Date Written: May 13, 2022

Abstract

This report summarizes the findings of a national survey of firearms ownership and use conducted between February 17th and March 23rd, 2021 by the professional survey firm Centiment. This survey, which is part of a larger book project, aims to provide the most comprehensive assessment of firearms ownership and use patterns in America to date. This online survey was administered to a representative sample of approximately fifty-four thousand U.S. residents aged 18 and over, and it identified 16,708 gun owners who were, in turn, asked in-depth questions about their ownership and their use of firearms, including defensive uses of firearms.

Consistent with other recent survey research, the survey finds an overall rate of adult firearm ownership of 31.9%, suggesting that in excess of 81.4 million Americans aged 18 and over own firearms. The survey further finds that approximately a third of gun owners (31.1%) have used a firearm to defend themselves or their property, often on more than one occasion, and it estimates that guns are used defensively by firearms owners in approximately 1.67 million incidents per year. Handguns are the most common firearm employed for self-defense (used in 65.9% of defensive incidents), and in most defensive incidents (81.9%) no shot was fired. Approximately a quarter (25.2%) of defensive incidents occurred within the gun owner's home, and approximately half (53.9%) occurred outside their home, but on their property. About one out of ten (9.1%) defensive gun uses occurred in public, and about one out of thirty (3.2%) occurred at work.

A majority of gun owners (56.2%) indicate that they carry a handgun for self-defense in at least some circumstances, and about 35% of gun owners report carrying a handgun with some frequency. We estimate that approximately 20.7 million gun owners (26.3%) carry a handgun in public under a ``concealed carry'' regime; and 34.9% of gun owners report that there have been instances in which they had wanted to carry a handgun for self-defense, but local rules did not allow them to carry.

The average gun owner owns about 5 firearms, and handguns are the most common type of firearm owned. 48.0% of gun owners -- about 39 million individuals -- have owned magazines that hold over 10 rounds (up to 542 million such magazines in total), and 30.2% of gun owners -- about 24.6 million individuals -- have owned an AR-15 or similarly styled rifle (up to 44 million such rifles in total). Demographically, gun owners are diverse. 42.2% are female and 57.8% are male. Approximately 25.4% of Blacks own firearms, 28.3% of Hispanics own firearms, 19.4% of Asians own firearms, and 34.3% of Whites own firearms. In total, Americans own over 415 million firearms, consisting of approximately 171 million handguns, 146 million rifles, and 98 million shotguns.

Suggested Citation

English, William, 2021 National Firearms Survey: Updated Analysis Including Types of Firearms Owned (May 13, 2022). Georgetown McDonough School of Business Research Paper No. 4109494, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4109494 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4109494

William English (Contact Author)

McDonough School of Business, Georgetown University ( email )

Washington, DC 20057
United States

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