The Left’s Myth of an Overarmed America
For the last decade, progressives have been perpetuating the myth that the average American, in the South in particular, owns far too many guns.
Every time an incident hits the news like the Parkland, Florida mass shooting earlier this year, one of the first things you hear on the mainstream media is “what does anyone need with that many guns?” To bolster their viewpoint, progressives are bound to point to statistics that show there are 300 million guns in America.
Even liberal-leaning news sources are having to admit that using that 300 million number out of context is misleading. USA Today went further to correct this in an article entitled, 3% of Americans own half the country’s 265 million guns.
Americans overall own an estimated 265 million guns. That is over one gun for every adult in the country. The conclusion we are left to draw from that is the average American has far too many guns. But that is where the myth is exposed.
Other studies give a more accurate picture of gun ownership in America.
- 55 million Americans own guns.
- 22% of the adult population owned guns last year – down from 25% in 1994.
- Of those guns between 300,000 and over half a million were stolen last year.
A recent study conducted by Harvard and Northeastern universities shows that half of that 265 million guns belong to just 3% of American adults.
That 3%, sometimes called “super owners”, possess on average 17 guns each. That 7.7 million people own half the guns in the country.
A Pew Research Center survey showed that 37% of adults reported having a gun in their household while 24% say they own a gun personally.
One thing we can glean from all of these studies is that that, while white male Republicans own more guns than any other group, there is a significant diversity among those who own guns.
While many who own a gun are Republican or lean that direction (51%), Democrats or those who lean left (39%) also are gun owners.
The Pew study shows that spouting a raw number like 300 million makes for good propaganda but offers little light the true terrain of gun ownership in America.
According to Pew Research:
Gun ownership also differs substantially by region and type of community. In the Northeast, 17% say they personally own a gun as do 21% in the West. Higher percentages in the Midwest (27%) and South (29%) say they own a gun. Across all regions, people living in rural areas are twice as likely as those in urban areas to own a gun (39% vs. 18%).
Gun ownership rates are highest in the rural South and Midwest, but that isn’t where most gun-related crimes occur.
Gun rights advocates have long pointed to Switzerland as the model for citizen ownership of guns. This past February, Swiss citizens defeated a referendum calling for a national gun registry and for firearms owned by members of the military to be stored in public arsenals.
Hermann Suter, then vice president of the Swiss gun-rights group Pro Tell said: “Only dictators take arms away from the citizens.”
Gun ownership in Switzerland has deep historical roots as does that in the United States. Traditionally, every Swiss male between the ages of 18 and 34 is considered part of the country’s “well-regulated militia.”
Switzerland’s defense of gun ownerships harkens back to Franco-Prussian War of 1871, World War I, and World War II, Swiss citizens feared a Nazi invasion. Our Founding Fathers feared their own government and gave us the Second Amendment to preserve the right to bear arms.
It’s interesting to note that the regions of the US that have the highest rate of legal gun ownership have the lowest rate of gun violence. That is also where one will find the greatest respect for and healthiest distrust of government. But even the rural South comes nowhere close to gun ownership proportionate to 300 million.
After the Parkland shooting in Florida, a frustrated caller to a Bradenton Radio Station said, “Our schools can no longer become ‘free-fire zones’ for killers who know they will meet no armed resistance`… It is no longer enough to wring our hands after one of these slaughters, and mouth mindless desires for “gun control.”
Perhaps we would be better served if the talking heads quit throwing numbers at the problem and just report the news.