Firearms ownership in the U.S. has declined dramatically over the past 35 years, say new survey data from the General Social Survey (GSS) of the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago reported by the Violence Policy Center, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that advocates gun control. The data wre issued the same week that the National Rifle Association begins its annual convention Thursday in St. Louis.
The NORC data show that between 1972 and 2006, the percentage of U.S. households that reported having any guns in the home dropped from 54 percent in 1977 to 34.5 percent last year. During the period 1980 to 2006, the percentage of Americans who reported owning a gun dropped more than nine percent, from 30.7 percent in 1985 to a low of 21.6 percent in 2006. The center says reasons cited by the gun industry and gun lobby for the decline in gun ownership include a lack of interest in guns by youth; the end of military conscription; decreasing popularity of hunting; land use policies that limit hunting; environmental and zoning issues that force shooting ranges to close and limit new range construction; and an increase in single-parent homes headed by women.