Poll: Crime Victims More Likely to Arm Themselves

Guns / AP

Americans who have been the victims of crime are more likely to own a gun than those who have not been victims, a Gallup poll released Monday shows.

The polling company found that 33 percent of respondents who had been victims of crime over the past year owned a gun, while 28 percent of those who had not been victimized owned one. The findings represent a statistically significant difference, Gallup said.

The survey asked 11,165 adults about gun ownership and crime. It is part of the annual Gallup Poll Social Series.

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Gallup said it could not definitively explain why crime victims are more likely to be armed with the data it collected, even if the answer seems apparent.

"Although the analysis demonstrates a statistically significant relationship between crime victimization and gun ownership, it cannot answer why the relationship exists," the report said. "An obvious explanation is some of those who have been a crime victim purchase a gun as a reaction to that event."

However, Gallup found that crime rates and gun ownership do not necessarily correlate and rural areas often have more guns but fewer victims of crime.

"It does not appear that those who live in higher-crime areas, and who therefore may be more likely to become a victim, are also more likely to own guns," the report said. "Gallup's Crime surveys show urban residents are much more likely than rural residents to report being crime victims, 20 percent to 15 percent, but rural residents are far more likely to own guns. The data does suggest, though, that crime victimization has a greater effect on gun ownership among suburban and rural residents than among urban residents."

"Nor does fear of crime explain the relationship, because gun ownership is higher among victims than nonvictims when fear is held constant," Gallup wrote. "It is possible some other unmeasurable psychological, cultural, or situational characteristics could be related to both one's likelihood of buying a gun and one's vulnerability to being a crime victim."