Americans Bought at Least 150M Guns in Decade 

Americans bought an estimated 150 million guns in the past decade. In the past 10 years since the mass shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school, the gun safety movement has gained some political power.

But the National Rifle Association has only grown to be more and more funded, and more powerful. 

A constant string of mass shootings and other violence has convinced more people that owning a gun for self-defense will make them safer, experts say. 

People who choose to own guns are actually a minority of the U.S. population. A third of Americans say they own a gun, and fewer than half say they live in a house that has a gun. 

The total number of American gun owners has risen over recent years. The majority of US gun owners are still white men, and the largest proportion lives in the South. 

One large survey conducted by Harvard and Northeastern University researchers estimates that the number of American gun owners rose by 20 million since 2015. 

It is estimated that 75 million people own a gun now, compared with 55 million in 2015.

The number of Americans who carry guns in public also appears to be on the rise. 16 million people said they carried a handgun at least once a month in 2019. Six million reported doing so daily. That is compared to 2015, which was roughly half those numbers. 

Surveys over the past few decades show that an increasing proportion of Americans say they own a gun for self-defense, not hunting or recreation. 

In 2021, 88 percent of gun owners cited “crime protection” as their reason for owning a firearm, according to a Gallup poll. 

However, the perception of the risk of crime and violence has often not lined up with reality. 

For nearly three decades, a large majority of Americans said almost every year that crime had risen nationally since the year before, even in the years when it was falling sharply. 

In 2013, the majority of the public was simply unaware that the country’s gun homicide rate had fallen nearly 50 percent since 1993.

A lot has changed in the past three years. The Covid pandemic, protests against police violence, and the Capitol insurrection supercharged gun sales. 

An estimated whopping 5 million Americans have become gun owners in 2020 and 2021. The top reasons for buying a gun early in the pandemic were concerns about lawlessness, concerns about people being released from prison, the “government going too far,” and “government collapse.”

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