Study Shows 1 In Every 3 Americans Owns A Firearm


A group of researchers discovered that one in every three Americans adults owns one gun. The study aims to determine who owns a firearm in the US and their reason for having one. The researchers specifically delved into the link between their exposure to social gun culture and gun ownership.

Bindu Kalesan, an assistant professor of epidemiology at Columbia University and her colleagues collated and investigated 4,000 sample data with representatives from across the national level in the US. The data include gun ownership information gathered from study subjects aged 18 years old and above from all 50 US states, including the District of Columbia in October 2013. The researchers got their information on firearm policies across the state from the Brady Law Center and Injury Prevention and Control Center.

The findings of the study published in the online journal Injury Prevention, found that one in every three Americans owns a gun and the percentage of gun owners are highly varied depending on the state. The least percentage of gun owners were noted in Delaware with 5.2 percent and the highest is in Alaska with 61.7 percent. The range of gun ownership in the Northeast includes 5.8 percent in Rhode Island to 28.8 percent in Vermont. In the West, California had the lowest percentage of gun owners with 20 percent and the highest is in Alaska. With 19.6 percent, Ohio holds the lowest gun ownership incidence in the Midwest and North Dakota has the highest incidence with 47.9 percent. Lastly, the south and mid-atlantic regions exhibited the national lowest incidence in Delaware and the highest for the particular region was noted in Arkansas with 57.9 percent.

Study subjects, who reported an exposure to social gun culture, rank higher in terms of gun ownership by 2.25 times compared to those who were not exposed. The researchers also found that most of the gun owners were of the white descent and are aged 55 years old and above. Majority of these gun owners were married, the researchers add.

The order of exposure to social gun culture and gun ownership was not clearly established, said the researchers. They explained that the social gun culture was determined through four parameters, which include that their social circle's perception of the participants are less if they don't have a gun; their family thinks less of them if they don't have a gun; social life with family are associated with guns and lastly; social life with friends are associated with guns.

Because the researchers discovered a significant relationship between gun ownership and exposure to social gun culture, it may be necessary to modify existing gun cultures according to public health interventions that target to change gun ownership in the country. The researchers noted that in 2013, 33,636 individuals died and 84,258 individuals sustained injuries due to gun violence.

Photo: Dickson Phua| Flickr

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