One Third of Americans Own Guns, but Only 4% Go Hunting

Tuesday, March 12, 2013
(photo: Cripple Creek, Colorado)

If there was any doubt about why Americans own guns, the latest statistics demonstrate the desire to bear arms has little to do with arming for bears or any other kinds of wildlife.


Simply put: Americans don’t own firearms to go hunting.


As of last year, 34% of U.S. households possessed guns, according to a new national survey. But only 4.4% of Americans (13.7 million) went hunting, based on data collected by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Much more often, Americans buy guns for self-defense, although two-thirds of gun-related deaths were suicides.


Overall, the desire for gun ownership has declined in recent decades, which flies in the face of the media uproar over gun control and perceived threats to Second Amendment rights since the Connecticut school shooting tragedy in December.


In the 1970s, about 50% of all American homes had at least one gun. That rate had fallen to 35% by the 2000s, according to survey data analyzed by The New York Times.


The newspaper also found that the share of households with guns has declined in areas where the gun culture is particularly strong, such as in the South and the Western mountain states.


For the record, in 2011 10.6% of Americans (33.1 million) went fishing.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Share of Homes With Guns Shows 4-Decade Decline (by Sabrina Tavernise and Robert Gebeloff, New York Times)

2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service) (see page 57) (pdf)

Most Gun Deaths in U.S. are Suicides (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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