Yesterday I linked to an Ezra Klein post that included data showing the rate of firearm ownership in the U.S. has been declining over the past several years. Specifically, the data showed the percentage of Americans who kept guns in their homes, which is 20 to 30 percent lower than it was in 1960, depending on which poll you go by.
But Mark Follman writes that the number of guns in the U.S.has increased much more than population growth.
America has long been heavily armed relative to other societies, and our arsenal keeps growing. A precise count isn’t possible because most guns in the United States aren’t registered and the government has scant ability to track them, thanks to a legislative landscape shaped by powerful pro-gun groups such as the National Rifle Association. But through a combination of national surveys and manufacturing and sales data, we know that the increase in firearms has far outpaced population growth. In 1995 there were an estimated 200 million guns in private hands. Today, there are around 300 million—about a 50 percent jump. The US population, now over 314 million, grew by about 20 percent in that period. At this rate, there will be a gun for every man, woman, and child before the decade ends.
This suggests to me that all these guns are being hoarded by a shrinking percentage of U.S. citizens. And what sorts of people are these?
John Cole writes about being stationed in Kuwait after Desert Storm:
So why am I telling you this? Because in the middle of one of the most dangerous regions in the world, even with clear Rules of Engagement, every time I went on gate duty, there was a piece of tape over my ammo clip on my M-16 and M1911 .45. Why? Because the most heavily armed military in the world did not want accidental shootings. If a situation arose, I would have to eject my ammo clip, remove the tape, and reinsert and work the action before I could fire.
This was in a combat zone. Yet I have spent the last two fucking days dealing with armchair commandos telling me they need unlimited firepower to be safe in… Connecticut.
If there are bigger pussies in the world than gun nuts, I don’t know who the fuck they are.
So we have a minority of citizens who are paranoid and armed. And as the number of mass shootings escalates, they constitute a bigger threat to most of us than the threats the minority arm themselves against. Threats that mostly exist in their own heads, I might add.