Americans own an estimated 265m guns, more than one gun for every American adult, according to the most definitive portrait of US gun ownership in two decades. But the new survey estimates that 130m of these guns are concentrated in the hands of just 3% of American adults – a group of super-owners who have amassed an average of 17 guns each.
The unpublished Harvard/Northeastern survey result summary, obtained exclusively by the Guardian and the Trace, estimates that America’s gun stock has increased by 70m guns since 1994. At the same time, the percentage of Americans who own guns decreased slightly from 25% to 22%.
The new survey, conducted in 2015 by public health researchers from Harvard and Northeastern universities, also found that the proportion of female gun owners is increasing as fewer men own guns. These women were more likely to own a gun for self-defense than men, and more likely to own a handgun only.
A revealing and unsettling journey to the heart of America’s deadly love affair with the gun
In the 18 years since Zed Nelson’s seminal photography book Gun Nation was published, 500,000 Americans have been killed by firearms in the US. Half a million people dead and many more injured, Nelson returns to the people he met, re-photographs them, and asks why America is a nation still with an insatiable appetite for firearms.
Gun Nation explores the paradox of why America’s most potent symbol of freedom is also one of its greatest killers.
Director: Zed Nelson
Producer: Zed Nelson
Editor: Noah Payne Frank
Commissioned by The Guardian and Bertha Foundation for the Guardian Bertha documentary partnership
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