Average Gun Owner Now Owns 8 Firearms

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Here’s a number to be proud of. The Washington Post is reporting that according to Wonkblog, the average number of firearms in a “typical gun-owning household” has increased to 8.1 firearms. This is a  nearly two-fold increase from data in 1994 which reported the typical household had 4.2 guns.

Per survey research, the number of gun-owning households in the United States is decreasing, but the number of owned firearms continues to steadily climb. If the survey data from Gallup and the General Social Survey are to be believed, it indicates that the rise in firearms demand is coming from current ownership, not new customers.

Hit the link for the full article from Christopher Ingraham, which includes high-level analysis and a general analysis of the numbers. 

Also important: these are averages, which are a very blunt instrument for understanding the distribution of guns in the population. In all likelihood, there’s a situation where a small percentage of gun owners own a huge number of guns, which brings the average up for everyone. For instance, that same 2006 study found that the top 20 percent of gun owners owned 65 percent of America’s firearms. The top 3 percent of gun owners averaged over 25 firearms each.

For many owners guns are like tools, and you need different tools for different jobs: a rifle for hunting deer. A shotgun for hunting duck. A pistol for self-defense. An AR-15 for fun. Etc.

But in recent years, it seems many gun owners have seen fit to expand their toolboxes. There are probably a number of factors driving this: fear-stoking by some gun rights groups in the wake of mass shootings can lead to surges in gun-buying from existing owners concerned the government could take their guns away. The rising popularity of “prepper” groups, who stock up on food and firearms in preparation for a variety of coming apocalypses, may also be playing a role.



Nathan S.

One of TFB’s resident Jarheads, Nathan now works within the firearms industry. A consecutive Marine rifle and pistol expert, he enjoys local 3-gun, NFA, gunsmithing, MSR’s, & high-speed gear. Nathan has traveled to over 30 countries working with US DoD & foreign MoDs.

Nathan can be reached at Nathan.S@TheFirearmBlog.com

The above post is my opinion and does not reflect the views of any company or organization.


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  • kipy

    Those poor peasants 🙁

  • Isaac Newton

    This is a case where using the median is a better judge of what is going on. Also median is more suited to the term “typical”. (my inner math nerd). Just taking an average is something you do if you know nothing about statistics, which is surprising for something called wonkblog.

  • Joshua

    It’s a BS survey. If some stranger claiming to be doing a poll asked me if I owned guns I would tell them no.

    Of course I do, but I don’t advertise that information and hope someone doesn’t decide to break in when no one is around.

    • BearSlayer338

      Hell if anyone I don’t know well asked if I owned guns I’d say no.

      • DB

        I got a rock, a stick, and a slingshot…but don’t let anyone know about the stick, you’ll put your eye out!

      • Cal.Bar

        For god’s sake why? What are you AFRAID of? Are yo afraid of someone stealing them? If I asked if you had a car would you say yes? If I asked if you were heterosexual would you answer? IF I asked if you were a particular religion would you answer. Unless and until gun owners “come out of the closet” firearms ownership will always be thought of as “deviant” or unusual, or “in the decline”. I proudly declare that I AM A GUN OWNER. So what? Does that mean somehow I am at greater risk of theft? I’d think just the opposite. Every burglar ever asked reports they would be LESS likely to target a house or home owner they know to be armed. Am I suddenly on some government watch list. THEY ALREADY KNOW most EVERY gun I own since they were ALL legally bought through dealers or legally inherited. WHY do we all hide in the shadows? Scurry around like cockroaches hiding from the light of day! I say until we all stop thinking of firearms ownership as something that is a secret to be hidden, the anti’s win!

        • BearSlayer338

          For one its no ones business what I do or do not own,secondly why would anyone need to know? Most free states(IE:not California) you can buy a gun face to face and the government never knows about it and it is completely legal. Why do you think we even have to fill out ATF paper work when buying a gun from a dealer and go through a background check,its so they can track the guns for when they later try to confiscate them,many have forgotten that we have signed the UN Small Arms Treaty and that we face constant gun control threats that will eventually lead to confiscation.(they have even said it)

          • Cal.Bar

            You’re missing the point. Yes, theoretically EVERYTHING you do is “your business”. But, firearms and the right to have them is constantly under attack. If you don’t think CA style gun laws won’t be coming to YOUR state, ask the folks in CO, WI, NY, WA dc. etc. As goes CA, so goes the NATION. If no one will even admit to owning a gun, it will forever be in the shadows. Taboo, weird, strange. And thus more easily criminalized and banned. It was less than 50 years ago that homosexuality was ILLEGAL in many states. Today, it is a protected class. It all started with folks “coming out”.

          • Anton

            I was raised in CA and didn’t realize how many people had guns until I got one myself at 27 years old. 2 years later I have 5. Now it seems like about half the people I talk to are gun owners and the rest are at least curious.

            That should be a program that NRA supports, basically take a neighbor or friend shooting. We would have a lot less support for stupid laws if people had hands on experience.

        • Mikial

          Actually, all those decals on your car do nothing but make you a target for the police to check you out any chance they get. They also can be used against you in the event you have to use your firearm to defend yourself because the prosecution will use them as evidence that you WANTED to shoot someone.

        • Daniel F. Melton

          I prefer to buy garage sale or private. If someone wants to know what I own, they can part with some private information themselves.

        • FarmerB

          Because in some places the mood against gun owners turned instantly ugly and the govt ended up crushing them – have you ever had to hand over firearms to the police to see them crushed? I have.

          There also also places where people would be more than happy to report false or vexatious anti-social behavior complaints against known gun owners to ensure a police visit and result in possible immediate confiscation because they think you shouldn’t have them.

          That’s why.

    • Nashvone

      Even if they made me the CEO of Remington, you would never see a gigantic R on the back window of my truck.

    • DB

      DB
      Please don’t take this wrong, brother, but….duh!!! Duh may not be the best way to put it, would you accept “agreed!” This is a “Gimme!” I’m with ya! Take Care!

    • n0truscotsman

      Thats why the whole ‘but gun ownership has declined…”-meme is very unbelievable to me.

      To a degree I agree that existing owners are just buying more, this is certainly true in my case, although that point only goes so far.

      I think more have learned the value of the “MYOFB” method of answering such questions.

    • raz-0

      It’s not even entirely that, although I will bet there is a portion of the results that IS that as if you look at the historical gallup numbers, they fluctuated around 50%+/- a few points any given year for household ownership until the 1994 AWB hit. Then they hover around 42% +/- about the same since then.

      I think a number of people don’t answer the GSS simply because it is a very long survey. Over 90 minutes of stupid questions.

    • Rock or Something

      If any pollsters actually asked me if I had guns, I’m going to say I have 365, one gun for each day of the year. On leap years, I buy one additional one, and rotate another firearm out of stock when the year ends.

      • Cal.Bar

        Hallalujah brother! A proud gun owner.

        • ABeiruty

          I also never shy from talking guns, shootings with my friends. I love to share my admiration for my collection with them. A collection should not be in gun safe. It should be nicely displayed in a gun room.

  • Edeco

    Sounds nifty. I don’t believe it because I think the gun-owning-household number is low. People not reporting at least. I’d expect more like three guns/gun owner.

  • Tim U

    No comment on how many are at home. 🙂

    Let’s just say if I answered truthfully I would contribute to the average going up rather than down

    • kipy

      I’ll tell if you do 😉

  • kevinp2

    Christopher Ingraham is a dishonest “journalist” on the subject of gun control. He has repeatedly peddled lies on this subject. I have called him out on factual errors that he has just ignored.

  • Jason Lewis

    My wife wishes I only had 8.

    • FarmerB

      My wife only knows about eight.

    • Mikial

      My wife has 8 of her own.

  • Gun owning homes aren’t decreasing. People are just wiser about answering firearm polls.

    Oh wait. I lost all mine during a tragic duck hunt at Stonecoal lake… All “Oneteen***” of them.

    Nope no guns here.

    • John Doe

      Oh my God, you too!?

      • gunsandrockets

        It’s an epidemic!

      • I know, right. 🙁 🙁 ♡

        • redleg

          all the mistruths out there….can’t we even trust our government anymore?

          • Daniel F. Melton

            Could we ever trust the government?

  • INFI

    No mention of tragic boating accidents?

  • Matt Paris

    I own more than that and I am 25, but I lost them in a tragic boating accident…

    • DB

      You’re OK I hope! Tragic!

  • gunsandrockets

    Not this nonsense again.

    Sadly this means delving into politics. Many anti-gun activists are very invested in the idea of declining gun-ownership in America, and some anti-gun activists like to then add the real world firearm numbers to this mix and leap to plainly absurd conclusions. Such as one anti-gun opinion writer claiming that 1 million U.S. households have more than 100 guns each!

    http://ourfuturedotorg/20150316/gun-ownership-is-declining-so-why-is-the-gun-lobby-so-powerful

    Is gun ownership really declining? Or flat? Despite all the anecdotal evidence and deductive logic which suggests otherwise? How accurate is opinion polling on this topic?

    Here is what Kate K a social scientist has said about that polling…

    As far as the demographics of gun owners, as a social scientist who deals with survey data, the science tells us it is extremely likely that surveys on: a) how many gun owners are in the US, are severe undercounts; and b) the demographics within those surveys most undercount women, minorities and younger persons.

    After quite a few peer reviewed studies on accuracy of privacy related direct questions in surveys, the method now considered most accurate is what we call “veiled questions ” or indirect questions. We know objective baselines on what portions of women in a cohort have had abortions. Yet on direct question, less than 1/3 of women who have will say so. We have less objective baselines on who is and isn’t gay, but direct question survey indicate a 30% undercount even with the lowest estimated baseline.

    Indirect questions on gun ownership garner in the range of 55% to 63% positive nationally. Moreover four or five of those indirect questions have been used for decades and show an increase not a decrease. And the positive answers on indirect questions show more of a diversity than the direct questions as well.

    • FarmerB

      > 1 million U.S. households have more than 100 guns each!
      Exactly – next article will be about ARSENALS!!

      • DB

        Speak for yourself!! It’s a “yousenal!”….I don’t know what you’re talking about!
        (Sorry, I can’t leave a gimme like they’re throwing out alone, I’m a smarta$$!)

        • Dan

          What fun would life be if we couldn’t be a smartass from time time

  • Sledgecrowbar

    Inaccurate thought it may or may not be, this hits the nail on the head for several points pertinent to me, Seeing guns as tools, an AR being for fun while a handgun is for self defense and longarms are for hunting. I collected hand tools for a long time, it made me happy to have a rounded collection of wrenches and sockets. I know we see an AR as a defensive or varmint-hunting tool but I use mine mainly for target shooting.

    I feel like a lot of anti-gun people just have never given sport shooting a chance because of the violent reputation that is somewhat self-perpetuating. If more people saw firearms as tools to be respected the same way one respects a table saw or fencing sword, things would be different.

    Also, could we get numbers on how many guns the top two and one percent own? I’m not in the top three yet but I accept this American challenge with honor.

  • Major Tom

    If I told you how many guns I had, I’d have to kill you in the name of Mother Russia comrade.

    That said, I have only one and for the time being that’s all it will be.

    • Dan

      Well come back from space and buy more!

  • Odinson

    I have more guns than I can carry, and will be buying more. I have guns that have tripled in value since I bought them. An investment that can save your life. I will probably never sell them though, better to pass them onto family.

  • Isaac Newton

    The “8.1 firearms” metric bothers me and I just can shake it. You don’t treat averages like that. I think a better metric would read something like: 68% of gun owning household have 3-7 guns (for example). But just a straight average and calling it typical is silly.

  • Treyh007

    Well that’s cool, but I’ve heard several reports that first time gun buyer numbers have sky rocketed also, this claims they haven’t??

  • John

    Wow! Eight guns! Every year I only find coal in my stocking! How do I get on the “eight gun” list?

  • matthew_carberry

    8 per -household-. Even in the “pro-gun” headline the actual finding is misrepresented.

    Say Dad had 3 or 4 guns, but got another for the reasons listed, and Mom decided to get one for defense and one for plinking too. Now there is an uncounted new gun owner in a household, not just one person owning more guns.

    Add in older kids being introduced to shooting (all those new guns designed for smaller people)? Adult, college-age children living at home due to the economy? The questions are not precise enough to really capture what is likely occurring, actively misstating the findings that we do have doesn’t help. Precision in thought.

  • Bill

    This is not complicated or scary. People like to own many different kinds. It is called a hobby.

  • SM

    Cool, another way I can be below average!

  • Southpaw89

    I’ll bet that 1/10th of a gun is a trick to shoot!

    • Vizzini

      It’s an incomplete AR lower. 🙂

    • anon

      Remington R51. 1/10th finished

    • Mike

      Maybe it is a .9mm handgun

  • DIR911911 .

    and here I am living like it’s 1994

  • Uncle Webkins

    8. That’s adorable.

  • Anonymoose

    dat Wildey…

  • Don Ward

    I’m not going to comment on the methodology or accuracy of the poll. I do, however, have my doubts on whether the traditional variety of weapons is still applicable, as Nathan S suggested about one hunting rifle, shotgun, pistol, a .22, grandpa’s lever gun, etc. I suspect the majority of newer multi-gun owners are stockpiling up on redundant weapons. Multiple ARs. Multiple striker fired semi-autos.

  • Squirreltakular

    I can honestly say that I have every gun I could “need”. The only things I actually still want are an AKM in 5.45 and a Marlin 1895SBL for hunting dinosaurs.

  • Realist

    Decided to take my firearms out for a day of boating…too bad I didn’t see that iceberg in time to save the boat…

  • insertjjs

    We gun owners are doing our part to keep guns out of the wrong hands. But we only have so much money. So please lower your prices gun manufacturers, for the Children?

    • Elijah Decker

      You can buy a safe and functional shotgun or pistol for $200 or less, not counting fees and taxes. What are you complaining about?

      • insertjjs

        I bet that you are alot of fun at parties.

  • Hellbilly

    I had 80 firearms in my boat that capsized and sunk. In fact, I think it may have been the weight of those 80 firearms, the safes they were in, ammunition, and magazines that caused the boat to sink.

  • Christopher Armour

    Sweet!! I’m above average at something!!

  • milesfortis

    I’ve run into several other anti-gun idiots who are spewing the meme that ‘fewer households have guns’.

    What interests me is what propaganda point are they trying to make, and to who are they trying to make it?
    Are they delusional and simply trying to sooth their wrenched and torn psyches since they’ve been losing more than winning? Or, do they actually understand that there really are all these ‘new’ owners and are trying to propagandize those who haven’t armed yet?
    Either they don’t know, or they aren’t saying, and I’ve tried many different angles trying to draw them out.

  • Swarf

    Boating accidents aside, what are the two long guns in the middle of the article’s picture?

  • smartacus

    i’ve traded in more than that. I’ve sold off more than that. I’ve brought more than that to the range for an hour. I’m sure I’m one of many here with the same story…

  • redleg

    lost all of mine in a freak canoeing accident…heck of a thing

  • THIS IS GREAT NEWS!

    I have to buy three more to catch up with the rest of you people!

    1. Scary black rifle.
    2. New compact carry piece (and give old one to wife).
    3. Revolver in Big A$$ caliber (Colt .45 or .44 Magnum).

  • James Holland

    ? I’m below average. Noooo!!!!!!

  • Ken Snyder

    Did they count the “undocumented paperweights”?

  • Trey

    Am a bit above average then 😉

  • codfilet

    That’s an odd selection of firearms in the header photo.

  • ABeiruty

    One of the reasons to own more than one firearm: “Hey buddy, do you shoot?… No, I never had a chance but I love to try it if I had a chance…. No problem you are invite to our VIP range, I will provide ammo and the firearms that you chose, pistol, rifle, shotgun, all are available”

  • Leo

    I wish I could stop on just 8, but to me this is not a collection but just some set of tools. I am getting 8-10 per year :), and there is no end if you like something as much …

  • Wolfgang Oehry

    Isis? Jihad? Al Qaeda? We have more and more terror attacks on civilians in schools, movie theaters, sports stadiums (see Paris last night), etc. etc., and the US Government wants to take away the only personal defense we good citizens have? Are they nuts? Maybe they want to sit in a movie theatre seat and wait for some crazed guy to get to them and shoot them dead. Me, no way! I’ll shoot the SOB after his first shot and save many lives! Instead of taking legitimate guns away from citizens, they government should arm everybody that doesn’t have any criminal record and teach them how to shoot and handle a gun safely! That’s what I would call domestic anti-terrorism! In Switzerland, for example, every male at the age of 18 must join the army and go through a 17 week hard training, including shooting at 300 meters. All of them take their gun home. We’re not talking about a 9mm pistol, we’re talking about a machine gun with 24 round magazines – full! During each year, all of these guys have to go shooting on a shooting range and pass a certain level of results. IT’S MANDATORY!!! When have you last heard about wild shootings in Switzerland? Hmmm….

  • phil box

    good investments for when the “peaceful” government begins it’s collection. those without gun(the smart ones(?)) will be desperate for guns to “repel boarders”

  • Patriot068

    Awesome collection, love the black powder ones too. I only own 3 BP weapons 2 rifles &1 pistol. Thinking of getting the Hawkins kit, ( (will be a break from building AR_15 s which I can build from a pile and have you shooting in about 45min_1 hr. The Hawkins kit is bare you have to blue the barel, sand the stock, fit parts and up town they are offloading ffg gunpowder in 1lb cans for 10.00. Also mines the percussion #11 caps not this new 209 shotgun synthetic stock crap. My 44 was a kit and takes fff gunpowder and they have it all for cheep. The pistol caps are supposed to be #10 but you can’t find them so I crimp the ends and never failed. I shot my Derr hunter 24″ with a 320 gr maxi and it blew a 4×4 piece of wood in half, so I upped the anti and shot a 6″ tree small entrance hole bur the backside was blown. Out. Love the black powder it’s on style of gun the anti gunners won’t touch ( to stoopid) also if to buy a couple of extra cylinders your god to go swapping out. I always thought it was cool hearing the balls gping through the woods at low velocity & sounded like someone hitting the trees with a baseball bat. I’m a gun colector YES I AM!! What’s enough weapons to have??? HMM NONE!!! Get as much ammo and weapons you can afford
    P.s. the black powder is slow, crushes bones and gives a nasty asset infection because it tears and introduces contaminated clothing into the human body ( read history & surgical procedures on gunshot wounds in 18th & 19th century America

  • EstebanCafe

    What ? I’m clearly the impoverished one here, with only ONE gun. If any of you could find it in your hearts to part with some of your guns–you know–to bring my gun life-style up to snuff, I’d very much appreciate it.

    Isn’t this type of thinking working at Mizzoui? Simply forget the fact that the hunger striking Black student’s father makes $8M/year.

    Yep, with just ONE gun I’m oppressed too.

  • Mikial

    Only 8?

  • Doom

    The top 3 percent own only 25 or more? Crap, I must be in the top 3 or 4% then… wew yay me. now if only I were in the top 3-4% of the economy lol, I would have safe after safe filled with boom sticks.

  • Winter

    It’s good to be above average in something good for a change. I’ve got 23 total and my sister, we live together, has 16 total. Definitely not a record but probably ranks pretty high in the women’s demographic.

  • ND

    “gun-owning households in the United States is decreasing” This doesn’t pass the smell test because the greatest growth in firearms owners is Women. And EVERY article you read says this is their first firearm.

    If this survey WERE true then why the push for more Gun Laws and Universal Background Checks. Sounds to me the ONLY thing this proves is citizens are more concerned about their 2nd amendment rights and gov intrusion into their life.