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.
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.