The number of Americans who live in a household with at least one gun is lower than it has ever been, according to a major American trend survey that finds the decline in gun ownership is paralleled by a reduction in the number of Americans who hunt. According to the latest General Social Survey, 32% of Americans either own a firearm themselves or live with someone who does, which ties a record low set in 2010. That marks a significant decline since the late 1970s and early 1980s, when about half of Americans told researchers there was a gun in their household. In 1977, 32% said they lived in a household with at least one hunter, but less than half that number say so now.
Data from the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System suggest the total number of firearms being purchased is going up. But those are concentrated in fewer hands than they were in the 1980s, the General Social Survey finds. The poll found that 22% of Americans own a firearm, down from a high of 31% who said so in 1985. The survey also finds a shrinking gender gap in personal firearm ownership, but a growing age gap, with 14% of adults under age 35 and 31% of those over age 65 saying they personally own a gun. In 1980, younger adults were only slightly less likely than older ones to report that they owned a gun. (Read more firearms stories.)