The number of adult gun owners in the United States who carry a loaded handgun on their person doubled from 2015 to 2019, according to new research led by the University of Washington.
The data comes from the 2019 National Firearms Survey (NFS), an online survey of adults in the United States who live in households with firearms, including nearly 2,400 handgun owners. Compared to estimates from previous research led by the University of Wisconsin, the new study indicates that in 2019, nearly 16 million adult handgun owners carried a loaded handgun on their person in the past month (up from 9 million in 2015) and 6 million carried each day. (Twice as many uploaded per day in 2015).
Posted November 16 at American Journal of Public HealthThe study also found that a greater proportion of handgun owners carry handguns in states with less restrictive carry regulations: In these states, nearly one-third of handgun owners reported carrying in the past month, while in states with more restrictive regulations, only about a fifth did.
said lead author Dr. Ali Rouhani Rahbar, Professor of Epidemiology and Bartley Dobb Professor of Violence Studies and Prevention at the University of Wisconsin.
Among the other findings reported in the new study:
- About 7 in 10 handgun owners said they carried a loaded handgun as protection against another person, dwarfing the number of those who said they carried it as protection against an animal, for example, or for work.
- 4 in 5 handgun owners who reported carrying them were male, 3 in 4 were white, and the majority were between the ages of 18 and 44.
The researchers pointed out some of the study’s limitations: Respondents were asked if and how often they became pregnant, but not where. It is possible for someone who resides in a state with one type of permit restriction (or none) to have carried their handgun in another state with different laws. The study also did not ask whether the respondent carried a handgun openly or concealed.
While the data is from 2019, the researchers say the findings are timely, following a US Supreme Court ruling in June that struck down a New York state law for carrying handguns. States, in general, have become less restrictive over the years regarding handgun carrying—more than 20 states do not require permits to carry a gun today, compared to just one in 1990. The differences shown in this study suggest that this behavior may be responsive to the types of laws that load controllers that relate to the state.
“The Supreme Court ruling has already led some states to relax handgun laws,” Rouhani Rahbar said. “In light of this ruling, our study underscores the importance of examining the effects of carrying a handgun on public health and safety.”
The study was funded by the Joyce Foundation and the New Enterprise Fund. Co-authors are Amy Gallagher, now at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and formerly of the Firearm Injury and Policy Research Program at the University of Wisconsin; Deborah Azrael of Harvard University. and Matthew Miller of Northeastern University.