According to an article in The New York Times by Barry Meier and Michael J. de la Merced, the trend in gun ownership and buying in the United States has changed over the last several decades. Their claim is that hunting is on a steady decline, as is gun ownership, and that gun buyers these days are concerned more with self-defense.
The authors credit the General Social Survey conducted by the University of Chicago as saying that some fifteen percent of households as of 2014 include at least one hunter and that thirty-one percent of households own guns. Those numbers are down from thirty-two percent having hunters and fifty-one percent having gun owners in 1977. This may sound bad for the gun community in general and for hunting in particular, but things are not quite so simple.
Talk to gun owners, and you’ll hear—and perhaps have said yourself—that many won’t discuss their guns with some stranger on the telephone. That would be merely anecdotal evidence if it weren’t for the concerns raised by researchers about the response rates of contemporary surveys. The GSS has a response rate of seventy percent, a decent percentage for surveys of this nature, or it would be if questions about guns were not a particular challenge. The popular impression about the resistance of gun owners to being surveyed is reality known to pollsters, and different organizations come up with wildly different numbers. Gallup, for example, has found a much higher percentage of ownership in recent years than the GSS’s results. There’s good reason to wonder what the missing thirty percent who didn’t respond to the GSS would have to say about their ownership or not of guns—and the same is true about the people who didn’t answer other surveys.
But let’s speculate for a bit about the claim that “assault rifles” and concealable handguns are the most popular purchases lately. We live in interesting times, to borrow the Chinese saying. The talking heads kept saying that the post-9/11 reality is a radically different world from 9/10, and as much as I hesitate to accept the bloviations of self-appointed experts (can I handle the competition?), the American people received the shocking revelation, one that we periodically seem to require, that our safety is something that we each have to see to at the most basic level.
Another important factor to consider here is the choice to resist efforts to ban guns that the Times and many in Washington don’t like. As David Kopel, researcher and advocate for gun rights, put it, “You tell someone they can’t own something and they are going to buy it.” That’s the American way, something that gun control advocates never seem able to grasp. In the same way that much of the country doesn’t want our salsa made in New York City, we feel that our gun laws shouldn’t come from there, either. Or from Washington, D.C. The feeling between the coasts is that the Constitution means what it says, that the right of gun ownership and carry belongs to the people.
While the trend in hunting is something we should work to reverse, there is hope to be found in gun buyers making the choice to defend their own lives. We have time to rebuild a hunting culture, but gun rights generally are not something we can be patient with. And the gun buying trends give a good sign that we’re done waiting for our rights to be respected.
The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the position of Guns.com.