Differences Between New and Long-Standing US Gun Owners: Results From a National Survey

Am J Public Health. 2018 Jul;108(7):871-877. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2018.304412. Epub 2018 May 17.


Objectives: To quantify the proportion of current US gun owners who are new to owning firearms and compare new versus long-standing gun owners with respect to their firearms and firearm-related behaviors.

Methods: We performed a cross-sectional analysis of a nationally representative probability-based online survey conducted in 2015 in the United States. We defined new gun owners as current firearm owners who acquired all of their firearms within the past 5 years, but who lived in a home without a gun at some time over the past 5 years. We defined long-standing firearm owners as all other current gun owners.

Results: New gun owners represented 10% of all current US adult gun owners. In addition to being younger than long-standing gun owners, new gun owners were more likely to be liberal, own fewer guns, own handguns, own guns only for protection, and store guns in a safe manner.

Conclusions: Gun ownership is dynamic, with approximately 1 million Americans becoming new gun owners each year. Public Health Implications. Clinical guidelines should be updated to explicitly endorse re-evaluating household firearm status at regular intervals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Firearms / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Ownership / statistics & numerical data*
  • Politics
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Sex Distribution
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors
  • United States
  • Young Adult