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Trends in American Gun Ownership

NCJ Number
Richard L. Legault
Date Published
177 pages
This research provides an assessment of the trends in American gun ownership from a historical perspective and the data from which this is drawn.
There is a wealth of scientific literature regarding gun ownership and use in the United States as well as a diverse group of academic fields have studied firearms as an area of basic research over the last 80 years or so. However, there has been little assessment of the trends in American gun ownership over time or the data from which the knowledge is drawn. The explicit purpose of this research work is twofold. The primary purpose is to explore, evaluate, and describe possible error in the measurement of household gun ownership (HGO) and the general social survey (GSS) over a period of 16 years. The second purpose is to offer some description of demographic trends in firearms reporting that will be indicative of actual changes in ownership when reporting error is taken into consideration. The presence and character of error have certain implications for the various assumptions that are made about declining gun ownership and its relationship with attitudes concerning gun policies. HGO is an important measure in social science, public health, and policy research. Much of the analyses concerning the risks or benefits of gun ownership rely heavily on this measure, particularly the measure provided by the GSSs. This research report begins with an overview of gun ownership in America, followed by an understanding of trends in gun ownership, survey data, simple gun ownership trends, and gun ownership reporting. Tables, references, appendixes, and subject index