The Fight Over Gun Control: By the Numbers

Small Arms Survey (Max Fisher/Washington Post)
Small Arms Survey (Max Fisher/Washington Post)

A favorite recurring column of mine, with the most current edition trying to give some background and context to the debate over gun control spurned once again by tragedy in the nation.

Via The Week:

The tragic massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut last Friday morning has reinvigorated the national debate on gun control, prompting pollsters, policymakers, and advocates on both sides of the subject to revisit the long-dormant issue. As America adjusts to a post-Newtown landscape that could permanently change the discussion about guns in this country, here are some crucial numbers to keep in mind:

270 million
Privately owned firearms in the United States

9
Guns for every 10 people in America

55
Percentage of Republicans who had a gun in their house in 1975

50
Percentage of Republicans who had a gun in their house in 2010

45
Percentage of Democrats who had a gun in their house in 1975

22
Percentage of Democrats who had a gun in their house in 2010

50
Percentage of independents who had a gun in their house in 1975

30
Percentage of independents who had a gun in their house in 2010

57
Percentage of Americans who believe gun laws should be stricter

9
Percentage of Americans who believe gun laws should be less strict

More than 180,000
Americans who have signed a White House petition in the last few days asking for immediate gun control legislation

$719,596
Amount the NRA donated to political candidates in 2012

$634,146
NRA donations received by Republicans in 2012

$244 million
The NRA’s total annual spending in 2010

$3 million
The total 2010 spending for the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence — the nation’s largest pro-gun-control group

Sources: PoliticoCBS News, WhiteHouse.gov, Washington Post (23)New York TimesSlate

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4 thoughts on “The Fight Over Gun Control: By the Numbers

  1. This data appears badly flawed. If gun ownership is up, and 9 out of 10 americans potentially have guns, then how can each classification of ownership show a reduction? Am I missing something?

    1. A few reasons. That 9/10 statistic is a per capital style point, so that one person owning nine guns in a country of ten would mean that there are still 9 guns per 10 people. Some gun owners own multiple guns, overpowering the proportions of those who have none. Also, in regard of breakdowns of ownership and political affiliation, the percentages may drop but not necessarily in accordance with the number of guns overall. The increase in population over time may have negated the proportional loss in each political affiliation group. While I don’t see these data claiming gun ownership is up (by that I assume you mean more individuals own guns than did in1975) it does represent the numbers of currently owned firearms accurately, as widely reported.

      1. Total Gun ownership has to be up, if for no other reason than the increase in the population between 1975 and 2010. And assuming that everyone is either Democrat, Republican or Independant, then gun ownership has become incredibly concentrated. If Republican ownership dropped by 10%, democrat by over 50%, and Independents by 40%, all while total population has increased, then there must be one hell of a concentration of gun ownership, i.e. some fools must own thousands of guns to make the numbers work.

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