You might trust yourself with a gun. You might trust your qualified friends with guns. But do you really trust 3 million Americans to be safe with guns?
If you don't, we have alarming news, because a new study has found that an estimated 3 million Americans carry a loaded handgun every single day. The study, led by the University of Washington, estimates that 9 million Americans carry loaded handguns at least once a month.
The nationally representative survey found that most of the people carrying handguns are male, and cited "protection" as their main reason for carrying the lethal weapons.
The study, published in the American Journal of Public Health, discovered that gun carriers tend to be younger, identify as being politically conservative, live in the South, and own more than one type of firearm. They also tend to come from families that had a gun in their household when they were growing up.
Because of a spate of recent mass shootings being committed with larger guns, media focus has understandably been on assault weapons. However, the authors of this study point out that the vast majority of gun crime is committed with a handgun.
“It was important to study handgun carrying because about 90 percent of all firearm homicides and nonfatal firearm crimes for which the type of firearm is known are committed with a handgun,” Dr Ali Rowhani-Rahbar, lead author of the paper, said in a statement.
“Carrying firearms in public places can have significant implications for public health and public safety. An important first step to examining the consequences of firearm carrying at the national level is an accurate measurement of the occurrence of this behavior and characterization of those who engage in it.”
Of the respondents to the survey, 66 percent said they always concealed their gun when carrying it. Some owners admitted to carrying a concealed handgun without a permit in states where this is illegal. Just 10 percent of the gun owners who carry their weapons in public said that they always carry them openly.
These findings come as another study, from the University of Boston, found that states that automatically issue concealed carry permits to individuals that meet the criteria ("shall issue" states) had a 10.6 percent higher handgun homicide rate than states that allow for law enforcement to reject permits at their discretion ("may issue" states). These states also saw 8.6 percent higher firearm homicide rates.
Meanwhile, the NRA continues to lobby for more concealed handguns on the streets.