A new poll released last week reveals a significant uptick in the number of U.S. homes with a least one gun owner, reversing a slow but steady four-decade declining trend in households with firearms. The Economist/YouGov survey of 1,000 U.S. adults conducted Jan. 4 through 6 indicated four in 10 homes in the U.S.—or 39 percent—have at least one gun owner.
About 24 percent of U.S. adults surveyed said they personally own a firearm and 15 percent said they don't personally own one but someone in the house does. Another 56 percent of those polled said no one in the household owns a firearm, and 4 percent weren't sure. The 39 percent figure represents significant increase from 2012 polling, which placed the number of households with firearms at 34 percent of the U.S. population.
Further, the increase signaled a turnaround from the four-decade drop in household ownership charted by the authoritative General Social Survey, which found household gun ownership at 50 percent in the 1970s, 49 percent in the 1980s, 43 percent in the 1990s, and down to 35 percent in the 2000s.
The Economist/YouGov survey, with a stated margin of error of 3.9 percentage points, also revealed a decidedly partisan split among gun-owning households. Among self-identified Democrats, just 30 percent said there's at least one gun owner in the household, compared to 49 percent of Republicans and 43 percent of independents.
On other firearms-related issues, in last week's poll 73 percent of self-identified Democrats favored stricter gun laws, compared to only 26 percent of Republicans and 39 percent of independents. Among those independents, 22 percent supported more liberal handgun laws and 35 percent favored no change.
Additionally, 58 percent of those polled believe it is "somewhat unlikely" or "very unlikely" the U.S. Congress will pass more strict gun control laws, compared to 34 percent who believe it's "somewhat likely" or "very likely."