This week, Gallup released a poll taken among American gun owners — or at least, among a limited set of people who own guns and who were willing to answer questions from a stranger on the telelphone.
With results that will surprise nobody who’s been paying attention, a strong majority (60%) of those who answered the question replied that they own guns for personal protection. 1 When the NSSF took a similar poll of gun owners, they reported even higher numbers of people owning guns for self defense, at 73%.
The Gallup pollsters framed both the question and its answers inside the context of gun control and political plans. Fine for them, but I’m thinking about us. You and me. And about the community that we share. Why do you own a gun? Since you’re hanging out on this website, I have to believe it’s because you have at least a tiny little interest in protecting yourself from violent crime. So do I. And so do a strong majority of everyone who owns a gun, no matter which company’s numbers you believe.
But wait, let me throw a few more numbers at you before I say what I mean to say here. Over the past few years, we have seen record numbers of people buying guns. Going by the number of background checks (which isn’t an exact number for a lot of reasons, but gives a better ballpark than any other figures we have), there were almost 20 million guns sold in 2012 alone! Check out the link in the previous sentence, which goes to the FBI’s NICS summary page with numbers going back to 1998. Gun sales performed an astounding jump in the past two or three years, and that was on top of already brisk numbers. But even that doesn’t tell the whole tale.
Check this out. Two years ago, in October 2011, Gallup turned in the highest number of self-reported gun owners in America since 1993. According to that report, almost half (47%) of American households own guns. Not only that, but in that year, 23% of American women reported that they personally own a gun (not just have a gun in the house, but the gun in the house belongs to them personally).
Okay, so what we have here are record numbers of people buying guns, and record numbers of women buying guns. At least 60% and possibly as high as 73% of peope who buy guns do so because they are specifically interested in self-defense.
So why in the world are there so many programs intended for new shooters, and especially those for female new shooters, designed to tiptoe around the idea of using a gun to defend yourself?
How many times have you heard someone say something like this:
- “We just want to emphasize the fun parts of gun ownership, not drive them away by talking about self-defense.”
- “Don’t ever say ‘weapon’! That will scare people…”
- “Remember, this is all about just having fun on the range, so don’t bring up any serious or depressing topics when you’re talking to people…”
- “We absolutely do not allow human-shaped targets on our range. People just want to hit bullseyes and have fun with friends.”
From where I’m sitting, it sure looks like a lot of new gun owners come into our community looking for self-defense information. So why are so many outreach programs so reluctant to give it it to them?
- For comparison, a little over a third (36%) said they own guns for hunting, and a combined 21% own them for recreation, sport, or target shooting. ↩