How Many Firearm Owners are in the US?

Posted by Jessica Koenes on Nov 2nd 2021

How many firearm owners reside in the U.S.? What is the exact number of firearm owners?

Understanding firearm ownership in the United States is not cut and dry. There are people who own many guns but do not participate in surveys or are uncomfortable disclosing the information.

Americans with Firearms

There are families with one gun in the household but multiple people will claim a firearm possession for that single gun. Many who have never owned a gun are open to the possibility and may now own a firearm and did not when they completed a survey.

But why do we rely on surveys for our estimates in regards to firearm ownership in the U.S.?

The exact number of Americans who own firearms is unclear. It is hard to get an exact number since there is not a federalized registration system for firearm owners. The registration does not exist to protect the privacy of firearm owners and to help prevent a “buy back” of firearms to get them out of circulation. It is actually against the law to have a central registry of gun ownership.

Americans with Firearms

Gun by froghousewt from Pixabay

Survey Results for Firearm Ownership in the U.S.

An estimated 72 million Americans reported owning a gun in a survey from Pew and Harvard and Northeastern. This totals to approximately 22% of Americans. A larger percentage reported a firearm in the household. That means they live with someone who owns a firearm or they are a minor who knows how to access the firearm. This totals to approximately 40% of Americans. Among those who own a firearm, about half of them reported being interested in owning a firearm some day in the future.

These estimated figures are a decrease from the 51% of Americans who lived in a household with a firearm in 1978. This figure may have changed now. With so many Americans stuck at home and with the support of stimulus checks, firearm purchases hit a historic high during the Covid19 pandemic.

Who is more likely to own a firearm?

These are continued estimations based on surveys. Firearm ownership is accessible to most people in the United States. You need to be over 18 before you can own a firearm and there are some people with criminal records who are not allowed to own firearms.

  • Males: Males are more likely to own firearms than females. Specifically, white men have the highest probability of owning a firearm.
  • Rural: The probability of owning a firearm in a rural location is significantly higher. There are an estimated 46% of the population that own a firearm in rural areas. This statistic decreases down to 28% if you live in the suburbs and plummets to 19% for urban locations.

Who is more likely to own a firearm?

pistol by MikeGunner from Pixabay

Why Own a Firearm?

The reasons for owning a firearm vary from person to person. Most people who own a firearm grew up with firearms around the house. They are comfortable with the responsibility and feel safe with a firearm. Some people have a variety of reasons for owning firearms. Here are the most prominent reasons that come up in surveys.

  • Exercise your Firearm Rights: Some choose to own a firearm to protect their amendment rights. With the Second Amendment, you have the right to bear arms. Some want to continue the legacy our forefathers started. They own for political reasons in the name of democracy. They own a firearm to honor those who came before us and who paid high prices for the liberties we enjoy today.
  • Firearm for Self Defense and Protection: Many own a firearm because it makes them feel safe. You have the right to defend yourself in America, and many choose to exercise this right. A firearm is an effective self defense tool, in the right hands. Many take shooting courses and take the responsibility seriously. They know that if they hold a firearm for self defense, they need to be able to use it with speed and accuracy. A firearm is a tool, a very powerful tool, but one that can help ensure the protection of you and your loved ones.
  • Hunting: Many own a firearm to hunt. Whether it is for the sport of the activity, or to put food on the table, many firearm owners have hunted at one time or another. Hunting helps create a respect for nature while giving you a chance to enjoy the great outdoors. It helps support conservation efforts by keeping the game numbers in balance to protect fragile ecosystems.
  • Recreational Shooting: Some choose to own a firearm for the sport of shooting. This could help with your hunting game or support your self defense strategies. Recreational shooting is a fun sport that many Americans enjoy. You can even compete in monetary competitions. There are even television shows dedicated to recreational shooting. Shooting with accuracy is extremely challenging, it takes practice and reputation, a great way to pass the time.
  • Community: You can make so many lifelong friends through shooting. Whether it is through the hunt, online, or at the range, you will find like minded individuals. You have the potential to make lifelong friends that you could have only met with this common interest.

Why Own a Firearm?

magnum by MikeGunner from Pixabay


There are so many reasons to own a firearm in the U.S.A. Whether you are doing it for sport, for friendships, for food, for self defense, or for patriotism, you are among the growing 22% of Americans who own a firearm. Owning firearms is a privilege and a right worth protecting. If you own firearms or are considering joining the firearm community, please take the responsibility seriously. Take courses, be aware of your surroundings when you shoot, store your firearms properly in a durable gun case when not in use. It is a joy and a privilege to own a firearm and it is a responsibility that we cannot take lightly.