Friday, February 21, 2014

Record Gun Production in 2012

February 20, 2014 Bloomberg News reports that U.S. gun production set a new record for 2012 (8.57 million guns) -- but what is amazing is how the gun control groups insist that gun ownership is dropping:
Brian Malte, senior policy director of the Washington-based Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said gun-rights groups “demonized” Obama during the 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns, leading many gun owners to buy more firearms.
“We see the percentage of households owning guns declining,” he said, “and that indicates that those who already own guns are buying more of them.”
It is certainly possible that all those guns are concentrating in a smaller and smaller number of homes -- but everywhere I go, I run into people who have never owned a gun before, but are now buying one.  Which is more likely?  That people who already have more than a dozen guns are buying nearly all the newly made ones, or that the market is dramatically expanding?  I am one of those people who has more than a dozen guns (but I don't know immediately remember how many), and I have not bought a gun in almost twenty years.  Maybe I am just weird.

UPDATE: As one of the commenters points out, the General Social Survey is the one that keeps showing this dramatic decline in gun ownership.  The Gallup Poll in 2011 showed 47% of American households admit to a gun, the highest number since 1993 (when it was 54%).  This report indicates that 39% of American households had a gun in 2013, reversing a four decades long decline.  This report from the Pew Research Group points out that there is a very large gap between the Gallup numbers and the GSS numbers, with GSS showing a pretty consistent decline, while Gallup's data going back to 1972 shows no consistent decline:
A Gallup survey in May 1972 found 43% reporting having a gun in their home. The percentage subsequently fluctuated a great deal, reaching a high of 51% in 1993 and a low of 34% in 1999 – but the percentage saying they had a gun in their home last year was the same as it was 40 years earlier (43%).
To be blunt, when large national surveys differ by 9 points on a question this simple, this is statistically significant, and suggests that either the way the question is being asked, or the assumptions being used to weight the raw data, are problematic.

This July 25, 2012 Guardian article points out that telephone surveys consistently show higher gun ownership rates than the GSS, and do not show the decline the GSS data shows.  The article suggests several possible reasons -- none of which are obviously right or wrong, and thus it is difficult to tell the actual rate.

UPDATE 2: Several readers made the point about the problems of phone surveys on this, but none made it with more with than this:
"Hi, I am calling you to ask if you have expensive jewelry or gold stored in your home."

"Err... no"



  1. The source for the assertion that the percentage of households owning guns is decreasing is always the General Social Survey run out of the Univ. of Chicago.

    Color me skeptical. Every other indicator (gun sales, background checks, etc) indicates increasing gun ownership. Yet the GSS is always the outlier. I am not a statistician, but given the weight of the other evidence, I suspect there is something funky going on the GSS.

  2. The Brady Campaign can't - for practical, and possibly psychological reasons - admit that while it's true that poll responses show declining household ownership ... the almost certain reason for that is that nobody wants to tell an anonymous caller that they own firearms.

    I surely wouldn't admit it over the phone, and I have what the Brady people would doubtless call an arsenal...

  3. I seem to recall that the survey which the commies cite on low gun ownership is one in which the questions are posed via random phone call. I know that if someone claiming to be a pollster called me to ask about guns, my answer would be "No,I own none." it would be idiocy to answer a poll like this truthfully.

  4. Sigivald and John:

    I agree that only an idiot would agree to discuss gun ownership with a random phone caller. However, the antis respond to this argument by saying the GSS has always been conducted by phone. So even if the amount of gun ownership is understated because of false negatives, the *trend* is still downward. To disprove this, you'd have to show people were *more* likely to falsely deny gun ownership now than in, say, 1990.

    That could be true. In any case, I just don't believe the GSS. It contradicts every other piece of data we have.

  5. "Hi, I am calling you to ask if you have expensive jewelry or gold stored in your home."

    "Err... no"