Three million people in the United States leave their homes every day carrying a loaded firearm, according to a new survey published in the American Journal of Public Health.
The online survey of 1,444 handgun owners was conducted in April 2015 by researchers at Harvard University, Northeastern University, the University of Washington, and the University of Colorado. They estimated that of the 36 million handgun owners in the U.S., approximately 9 million (24%) carry a loaded handgun every month. Of those 9 million, roughly 3 million carry every single day (35%).
For context, the survey’s results indicate that more Americans carry a firearm than active duty military personnel in the world’s 10 strongest militaries. The Chinese military – the closest contender – boasts 2,333,000 active duty personnel, nearly 700,000 soldiers short of the American concealed carry army.
On average, more Americans are carrying firearms than visiting theme parks or professional sporting events. One million more Americans carry a handgun daily than use a wheelchair, and 2 million more Americans carry a firearm than purchase a Ford F-150 in a year.
You’re nearly as likely to meet someone who carries a handgun than to meet someone who has been to the movies in the United States.
Handguns have become a daily part of American life, but, contrary to the cries of the anti-gun lobby, our nation hasn’t descended into anarchy and chaos. More guns may not equal less crime, but they certainly don’t result in more.
That’s likely because, as the survey also found, the vast majority (82.2%) of people who carry a handgun daily do so for self-defense. These individuals aren’t looking for a fight, and they certainly aren’t looking to commit crimes. In fact, concealed carry permit holders are one of the most law-abiding demographics in the country.
The survey also determined that those who carry on a daily basis are most likely to live in suburban (46.4%) or rural (38.1%) communities. Only 15.5% of respondents indicated that they lived in urban areas.
While correlation does not equal causation, it is worth noting that crime rates in cities are much higher than in suburban or rural areas. The Brookings Institute found in 2008 that there were roughly 2,100 violent crimes per 100,000 people in U.S. cities, while suburbs saw about half that number of violent crimes.
So, while the number of people who carry handguns increases, the communities in which those people live continue to be the safest in the country. And with more states loosening restrictions on carrying handguns in public, that number is set to rise even more in the future.
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