There are roughly 300 million guns in the United States—nearly enough for each citizen to own one. But those guns are concentrated in the hands of a minority of Americans. Nearly a third of adults owns a gun, according to a new study in the journal Injury Prevention. And gun ownership rates vary widely by state: Alaska tops the list with 62 percent of adults saying they own a firearm; Delaware is at the bottom with just 5 percent.
The study, led by Columbia University public health researcher Bindu Kalesan, analyzed a nationally representative online survey of 4,000 people in 2013. The survey covered a wide range of topics, from how gun owners came to possess their weapons to whether they had taken gun safety classes.
The most likely demographic group to own a gun, according to the study, are white males over 55 who have finished high school and are, or have been, married. Unsurprisingly, gun owners are more than twice as likely as non-owners to be part of a "social gun culture" in which family and friends often own guns and look down on non-gun owners.
Past studies have found higher gun ownership rates are correlated with higher gun death rates, and the findings of the Injury Prevention study appear to confirm that trend. Here's what we found when we compared gun ownership rates from the study with gun death data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
Gun deaths result not only in unquantifiable emotional trauma on families and communities, but they're also associated with higher financial costs. As Mother Jones found in this recent investigation, gun violence cost Americans a whopping $229 billion in 2012. That comes out to more than $1,000 per resident in states with high rates of gun ownership and gun deaths, such as Louisiana, Wyoming, and Alaska.