The Meaning of Guns to Gun Owners in the U.S.: The 2019 National Lawful Use of Guns Survey

 Image of man and child looking at a target.

Understanding why gun owners own guns and what they mean to them, is essential for bridging the divide in public discourse around gun violence prevention policies.

Most gun owners stated that the primary reason they own guns was for defense (59.4%), followed by recreation (26.8%). Very few gun owners (22.9%) reported taking part in gun-related activities more than rarely and only a tenth of gun owners said that owning guns were an important part of their identity. The majority of gun owners (70%) felt reluctant to voice their support of gun violence prevention efforts and policies because of feelings of alienation stemming from the perception that gun control advocates and others blame all gun owners for the gun violence problem.

"For most of the gun owners, gun ownership plays a practical role as a method of self-protection and has a symbolic association with freedom. Public health practitioners must develop novel communication strategies that avoid alienating gun owners by creating a perception that the ultimate aim is to take their guns away."

Journal: American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

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