Looks like Bloomberg must have funded a major survey of gun ownership that didn’t just ask whether you had a gun in the home, but how many. Data shows that the number of gun owners has increased, but not at the same rate as population. The trend is apparently driven by men owning guns at a lesser rate, even as women are owning them at an increasing rate.
I think all of these social surveys are going to be limited by how many people are willing to talk to surveyors about a topic that’s a sensitive one. So even if the survey mythology it tip top, it’s always going to have that limitation. Personally, if someone calls asking about the number of guns I have in the home, and not just about whether I own one, I’m going to become very suspicious and hang up the phone.
Azrael, one of the study’s authors, said she was surprised that the detailed questions on gun ownership received no pushback. “People didn’t write back to GfK and say, ‘You have no right to ask these questions.’”
“It was encouraging,” she said. “It didn’t feel fraught. It felt that we were talking about a regular consumer product.”
Yeah, because if I were participating in that survey company’s response pool, I would just check off “no, not a gun owner” and send it back if I didn’t want to go there. I think the more they try to extract information, the lower the response rate is going to be. Low response rates are probably why this survey came up way short on the total number of guns we know (from ATF manufacturing data) are out there.
That said, I think the idea that most of the 300 million guns in this country are owned by a subclass of “super owners” as they call them in this survey is probably on the mark, and as Gary Kleck notes in the article, “That’s probably true for just about any consumer good.”
Most people reading this blog are probably “super owners.” Would you respond to someone with a long list of questions about your status as a gun owner? I sure as hell wouldn’t. But at the same time, Bloomberg is obviously funding these surveys for the exact purpose mentioned in this study: “this survey sounds like part of the ongoing effort to minimize gun ownership to make more gun control seem politically achievable.” Yep. You’re far better off talking to your elected representatives about how you feel about gun ownership than you are Bloomberg’s social surveyors.