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Firearms in the U.S. - statistics & facts

According to the Constitution of the United States, “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed”. Written into the social fabric of the nation, firearms have become synonymous with American freedoms and culture. However, the relationship with guns and the people of the United States has become increasingly complicated in modern America. The United States appears to be lagging behind societal change as other developed nations have set to curb the ownership of tools initially designed as instruments of death.

Firearm ownership

In 2020, a survey found that around 42 percent of households in the U.S. reported owning one or more firearms. This makes the United States the most heavily armed civilian population in the world. A different survey from 2018 found that 18 percent of gun owners stated they carry a gun on themselves daily, while only 42 percent of gun owners stated they never carry a gun.

The majority of surveyed men, 51 percent, report living in a gun-owning household, and 45 percent personally own a gun. For women, these figures are slightly lower. Gun ownership is a highly partisan issue in the United States, with Republicans supporting the right of all Americans to own a gun, while Democrats tend to favor stricter gun control policies. With this in mind, it is perhaps unsurprising that 64 percent of Republicans report living in a gun-owning household, while only 31 percent of Democrats say the same. Personal gun ownership is quite low for Democrats, with 18 percent reporting personally owning a gun in 2020.

Firearms and crime

Public disagreement over laws of firearm ownership has stemmed from the high number of firearm-related crimes, accidental deaths, and the proliferation of mass shootings. More than 73.6 percent of homicides in the United States in 2019 involved the use of a firearm. The state of affairs appears even more troublesome for Black Americans. In 2016, the rate of gun deaths for Black male Americans was over double that of white Americans.

The United States has a severe societal problem in the number of mass shootings that occur in the country. In response, there have been repeated calls for bans on assault-style weapons, bump fire stocks, and high-capacity ammunition magazines. In early 2021, it was found that 50 percent of all registered voters strongly supported a ban on assault-style weapons, however only 26 percent of Republicans supported such a ban, while 71 percent of Democrats did, highlighting the political divide of this issue.


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