A recent survey found that 44 percent of respondents either own a gun or live with somebody who does, suggesting that some 110 million Americans live in a house with firearms.
The latest Pew Research Center poll, conducted between Aug. 9 and 16, found 31 percent of those surveyed own a gun, the highest number in the poll's history. Another 13 percent reported living with somebody who owns a firearm. Twelve percent said they own their own firearm and live with somebody else who does. A slim majority, 51 percent, said nobody in their household owns a firearm, the lowest number in the poll's history.
The latest United States Census Bureau estimate pegs the number of adults living in the country at 247,813,910. If Pew's survey is correct then at least 109,038,120 Americans have a gun in their home.
The general concept of gun rights also won out over the desire to tighten gun control laws. A slim majority of respondents said it was more important to protect the right of Americans to own guns than it is to control gun ownership.
Furthermore, gun rights enjoyed more passionate support, with 46 percent of supporters saying they "strongly agreed" with the importance of protecting gun rights, while only 37 percent of gun control supporters felt the same level of intensity.
Fifty-eight percent of those polled said they believe guns do more to protect people from becoming victims of crime than they put people's safety at risk. Only 37 percent of people said the opposite.
However, specific gun control proposals enjoyed varying levels of support. Eighty-one percent favor "making private gun sales and sales at gun shows subject to background checks," though many sales at gun shows are already subject to checks. Seventy-six percent support "laws to prevent people with mental illness from purchasing guns," though many of those with mental illness are already prohibited from purchasing guns. "Barring gun purchases by people on the federal no-fly or watch lists" is supported by 71 percent. A federal database of all gun purchases was supported by 68 percent of Americans.
Support for a ban on "assault weapons," at 52 percent, and "high-capacity ammunition clips that hold more than 10 bullets," at 50 percent, was far more tepid.
The poll also found a huge partisan gap between gun rights supporters and gun control supporters. While 90 percent of Republican supporters preferred protecting Americans' right to own guns to controlling gun ownership, only 19 percent of Democrat supporters felt the same way. The 71 percent gap is the largest in the history of the poll.