LAWRENCE, Kan. — Most Americans tend to overestimate how many people own guns in the country, a finding that some experts said could have political ramifications across the U.S.
University of Kansas political scientists Don Haider-Markel and Mark Joslyn examined the results of a 2016 nationally representative survey of nearly 1,300 American adults. The researchers found that more than 75 percent of those who responded to the survey overestimated what percentage of Americans own guns, the Lawrence Journal-World reported .
Approximately 25 percent of Americans are gun owners, but most of the survey’s respondents believed that slightly over half of the country’s population owns guns, according to the researchers.
“I would argue non-gun owners still overestimate the size of gun ownership, because gun owners seem politically powerful in the United States because it seems so hard to put restrictions on guns,” Haider-Markel said.
If more Americans knew the real size of the gun-owning population in the U.S., they might view that population as politically weaker, he said.
Joslyn said the overestimation may be clouding Americans’ expectations for the future. The survey found people expect gun ownership to increase, but history shows it’s been declining, according to Joslyn.
He attributed the confusion to reporting on the sales of guns, which are going up. Joslyn said higher gun sales doesn’t necessarily mean more individuals are purchasing the weapons, but that gun owners are buying more guns.
“I think that’s what’s going on,” he said. “Gun ownership is declining, but sales are not.”