Where are the Guns?

Top 25 countries with gun ownership

The U.S. has the highest gun ownership in the world and is the only country to have a rate of ownership greater than 60%.

In 2007, the most recent data available by the Small Arms Survey, showed 270 million civilian guns in circulation in the U.S. According to GunPolicy.org, during the same year, 3.9 million small arms were manufactured in the U.S. In the same year, the annual rate of all gun deaths per 100,000 people was 10.37, non-fatal gun injury was 23.19, and the percentage of homicides committed with a firearm was reported to be 59% in the U.S.

Although the proportion of homicides committed with a fire-arm increased only by one percentage point from 2007 to 2010 (59% to 60%), the reported annual number of small arms manufactured for the same 3-year period jumped from 3.9 million to 5.45 million.

The graph below ranks countries by the rate of gun ownership in 2007.


Gun ownership in the U.S.

Based on the 2007 data from USACarry.com, cumulatively, the southern region had the highest gun ownership compared to any other region in the U.S. At least 40% of residents owned a gun in 11 of the 14 southern states.

The eastern U.S. had the lowest gun ownership, where a majority had gun ownership of 25% or less, with the exception of Maine (40.2%) and Vermont (42%).

Four southern states (Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama and West Virginia), 4 Western states (Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, and Alaska) and 2 Midwestern states (the Dakotas) had more than half of the state’s total population owing a gun.

Hawaii’s gun ownership (6.7%) was the lowest while Wyoming (59.7%) had the highest percentage of gun owners in the entire U.S. Hawaii was the only state to report a rate less than 10%.


Who are most likely to own guns in the U.S.?

According to the 2007-2012 Gallup poll survey, the single most influential predictor of gun ownership was gender. Males were 5 times more likely to own a gun than females. The next strongest predictors were marital status and region. The Gallup study found that almost two-thirds of southern married men owned a gun.

The graph below shows the profile of gun owners based on demographic, socio-economic, behavioral and geographic characteristics.

  • Those most likely to own a gun are: sothern, rural, white, married, conservative, republican, male,  50-64 years old, income of $50-75K a year, Protestant or Christian and military service.
  • Those least likely to own a gun are: female, Hispanic, 18-29 years old, postgraduate educated, eastern, urban and politically liberal, independent.

Note: The highest value under each category has a color and texture



Author: Nandhini Gulasingam

Nandhini Gulasingam is a Senior Analyst for IT Solutions at the Social Science Research Center (SSRC) where she manages GIS, database, web development projects for the SSRC and is developing data visualization techniques for use in the social and behavioral sciences. She is also an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Geography where she teaches graduate and undergraduate courses on Geographic Information Systems (GIS).

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