Researchers have presented "a fundamental building block for gun research" with the most comprehensive survey of US gun ownership in more than two decades, reports the Trace. It reveals just 3% of American adults own half of the country's 265 million firearms. These 7.7 million "super-owners" own an average of 17 guns each, though some have up to 140, according to the online survey of 4,000 out of Harvard and Northeastern universities, to be published next year. However, the majority of America's 55 million gun owners—who tend to be white, male, conservative, and living in rural areas—own between one and three guns, per the Guardian, and it's these individuals who researchers believe could limit the number of gun deaths each year.
If they change "the ways in which they store [guns], or their decision-making, we could have a really big impact on suicide," which accounts for two-thirds of gun deaths annually, the lead author explains. Gun owners have actually decreased from 25% to 22% since the last major study in 1994; male gun owners are down 10%, while female owners are up about 3%. However, the number of guns in the country has risen by 70 million. Handgun ownership has increased in particular, especially among women, suggesting the motivation is self-defense. The weird part: Researchers blame an "increasing fearfulness" that isn't quite justified since gun violence rates are falling and the country is generally getting safer.