Variations by country
The United States has the highest rate of gun ownership of any country of the world, with an estimated 88.8 guns per 100 people as of 2007, according to the Small Arms Survey. Serbia has the second highest rate, with 75.6 guns per 100 people. Yemen is in third, with 54.8 per 100 people.
Variations within the United States
In the United States, estimates of the number of privately owned guns vary from 270 million to 310 million, as of 2013. A 2002 survey estimated that 32% of all U.S. households own at least one gun. The gun ownership rate was highest in Wyoming, at 62.8%. More recently, a 2015 study found that about one-third of Americans owned a gun, and that this figure was highest in Alaska (61.7%) and lowest in Delaware (5.2%).
A 2016 survey found that nearly half of privately owned guns in the United States are owned by 3% of the population. The same survey reported an estimate of 265 million privately owned guns in America, which is slightly more than the number of adults living in America (242 million). Since 1976, the percent of Democrats who own a gun has declined from 45 percent to 27 percent in 2000. In contrast, the percent of Republicans who own a gun has remained almost constant from 1976 to 2012.
Gun ownership (also sometimes called "gun availability" or "gun prevalence") has been measured via numerous proxies, including the % of suicides committed with firearms, the % of homicides committed with firearms, the "Cook index" (the average of the % of homicides committed with firearms and the % of suicides committed with firearms), and the number of officially issued firearm licenses. The % of suicides committed with firearms (often abbreviated "FS/S" for "firearm suicides/overall suicides") correlates most strongly with survey estimates of gun ownership. Accordingly, it is considered the best proxy for examining the relationship between gun ownership and crime across multiple U.S. states or large counties.
Association with rates of violence
Some studies suggest that higher rates of gun ownership are associated with higher homicide rates, although Gary Kleck argues that the highest-quality studies show that gun ownership does not increase homicide rates. Higher rates of gun ownership are also associated with higher suicide rates and higher accidental gun death rates. The availability of illegal guns, but not that of legal guns, is associated with higher rates of violent crime.
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