Number Of US Adults Carrying Handguns Doubled in Four Years, Study Finds

Gun owners assert that they want protection from other individuals.

The percentage of adult handgun owners in the US who also carry a loaded firearm daily nearly doubled over a four-year period, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Public Health.

Data come from the 2019 National Firearms Survey (NFS), an online survey of U.S. adults living in households with firearms, including nearly 2,400 handgun owners. Compared to estimates from prior UW-led research, the new study, which was led by the University of Washington, suggests that in 2019, approximately 16 million adult handgun owners carried a loaded handgun on their person in the past month (up from 9 million in 2015) and 6 million carried every day (twice as many as carried every day in 2015).

The study also found that a larger proportion of handgun owners carried handguns in states with less restrictive carrying regulations: In these states, approximately one-third of handgun owners reported carrying in the past month, whereas in states with more restrictive regulations, only about one-fifth did.

“Between increases in the number of people who own handguns and the number of people who carry every day, there has been a striking increase in handgun carrying in the U.S.,” said lead author Dr. Ali Rowhani-Rahbar, a professor of epidemiology and Bartley Dobb Professor for the Study and Prevention of Violence at the UW.

70% of handgun owners stated they carried a loaded pistol for protection against another person, a much higher percentage than those who said they carried for other reasons, including work or defence against animals.

Males made up 80% of handgun owners who admitted to carrying their weapons, 3 out of 4 were white people, and most were in the 18 to 44 age range.

According to The Trace, a publication that specialises in researching gun violence, 18.9 million weapons were acquired by US citizens in 2021.

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