The share of American households with guns has declined over the past four decades, a national survey shows, with some of the most surprising drops in the South and the Western mountain states, says the New York Times. The gun ownership rate has fallen across a broad cross section of households since the early 1970s, according to data from the General Social Survey, a public opinion survey conducted every two years that asks a sample of American adults if they have guns at home, among other questions. The rate has dropped across many demographics and all regions of the country–cities large and small, in suburbs and rural areas, and households with and without children.
The household gun ownership rate has fallen from an average of 50 percent in the 1970s to 49 percent in the 1980s, 43 percent in the 1990s and 35 percent in the 2000s. In 2012, the share of American households with guns was 34 percent, according to survey results released on Thursday. The findings contrast with the impression left by news reports about people rushing to buy guns and clearing shop shelves of assault rifles after the massacre Dec. 14 at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn. Daniel Webster, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, said the increase in gun sales has been limited mostly to current gun owners.