Statement of purpose The purpose of this work is to provide updated nationally representative estimates of the US gun stock including novel estimates of the number of guns by gun type and sub-type.
Methods/Approach Data for this study came from a web-based, nationally representative survey of 2,950 gun owners conducted in August of 2019. Respondents were asked specific questions about household firearms including the number and types of guns in the home, storage practices, and reasons for ownership. To ensure results representative of the US adult (aged ≥18 years) population in 2019 we used weights that combined pre-sample and study-specific poststratification weights to account for oversampling and survey non-response in all analyses and in reporting weighted percentages and 95% confidence intervals.
Results The gun stock is an estimated 270 million guns among approximately 53.8 million gun owners across the United States. 45% are handguns and about 56% are long guns, including an estimated 18.9 million semi-automatic military style rifles. Handguns are the majority of guns owned by those with two or fewer guns while long guns are the increasing majority of guns owned by those with three or more guns. Most of the private gun stock is found at the homes of gun owners (84%), but an estimated 4.5 million handguns can be found in cars.
Conclusions In order to effectively account for exposure, interventions and advice to improve storage of private guns should account for the number and types of guns owned, and when storage devices are provided, should consider long guns as well as handguns especially in homes with multiple guns.
Significance These estimates reflect firearms exposure and inform firearm injury prevention aimed at reducing household exposure.
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