According to a new study published in the American Journal of Public Health, an estimated 6 million American adults carried a loaded handgun daily in 2019, double the number of gun wielders every day in 2015.
New estimates highlight a decades-long shift in US gun ownership, with a growing percentage of gun owners saying they have firearms for self-defense, not hunting or recreation, and when they go out in public opt to carry a gun with them. Ali Rouhani-Rahbar is professor of epidemiology at the University of Washington and lead author of the study.
A landmark Supreme Court case this summer overturned a New York law that imposed strict limits on public gun carrying, ruling, for the first time, that Americans have a constitutional right to carry a handgun for self-defense outside the home .
While recent surveys suggest that about a third of American adults say they personally own a gun, the percentage who regularly choose to carry a firearm in public is estimated at about a third of handgun owners or The study found, with 16 million adults saying they carried a loaded handgun in public at least once a month, and an estimated 6 million saying they do so daily.
But the practice of carrying a gun in public has grown exponentially in recent years. a 2015 study By the same researchers, using the same methodology, it was found that 3 million adults said they carried a loaded handgun daily, and 9 million did so once a month.
Today, the number of adults carrying a gun every day is higher than estimated in 2019, due to a record-breaking increase in gun sales during the pandemic, Rohani-Rahber said. “We have every reason to believe that this is a trend that is likely to continue,” he said.
The 2019 study is the most recent available peer-reviewed estimate of how many Americans regularly carry guns in public, he said, and an equivalent post-pandemic survey has yet to be conducted.
While the effect of permissible gun carrying laws on gun crime has been increasingly debated inside and outside research circles, “the totality of the evidence is leaning toward an association between those [permissive] policies and an increase in violence,” Rohani-Rahbar said.
But he said more research is needed, including an increased examination of “how often safety results in self-defense or life-saving methods,” as many American gun owners believe it does. does.
The study found that among the demographics who chose to publicly carry a gun in 2019, they were more likely to live in the South. Rouhani-Rahbar said that four out of five gun carriers were male, and three out of four were white. He noted that other demographic factors such as education and household income made no difference to whether or not gun owners chose to carry their guns in public. The researchers found that nearly a quarter of gun carriers had a household income of at least $125,000 a year, and nearly a third had graduated from college.
Only about 8% of handgun owners and carriers were in the lowest income level, earning less than $25,000 per year.
The increase in self-reported handgun carrying comes as more US states have passed laws to make it easier to carry a gun in public, with dozens of states removing the requirement that residents carry one” Concealed Carry Permit”. concealed firearm on his person.
“Over the past two or three decades the country has been moving very clearly and dramatically toward loosening gun laws as a whole,” Rouhani-Rahber said.
Rohani-Rahber’s study found that a lower percentage of gun owners opted to carry in public in states with stricter laws, but there was not a substantial difference between states where permits were easier to obtain and states that did not. There was no permission permission at all.
But some large states that had stricter laws, including New Jersey and California, are now in the process of changing them, thanks to a Supreme Court decision this June in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen, said Adam Skaggs, Gun Policy director at the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Violence, which advocates for increased regulation of firearms.
“Bruen is only going to accelerate the number of people carrying guns in public,” Skaggs said, noting that the number of gun-carrying permits in those states is already on the rise.
The 2019 gun carrying study was based on self-reported behavior of a nationally representative sample of US adults living in households that own a firearm. Due to protests from gun rights advocates, there are no official government statistics on the number or demographics of US gun owners, or even precise numbers of annual consumer gun sales in the US, meaning that survey-based Estimates are sometimes the best data available. ,