Sunday, October 10, 2021

Two National Firearms Surveys in 2021 Cause Confusion


Images of announcements of different 2021 National Firearms Surveys

Two different National Firearms Surveys were completed in 2021. One of them was done by Dr. William English of Georgetown University. He published a draft of his study in July of 2021. This correspondent wrote about the results in a previous article. A different 2021 National Firearms Survey was designed by Deborah Azrael and Matthew Miller, as reported in, had preliminary results obtained by the Wall Street Journal

Both surveys are the latest version of previous surveys. The English survey is much larger than the Azrael - Miller survey. 

This correspondent received confirmation of the confusion from Dr. English:

As you surmised, there are two different surveys. The one I ran was separate from and much larger than the one by Azrael and Miller, and it looks like we focused on some different questions. I believe their team has done a version of their survey in a few earlier years as well. It appears that neither of us thought up a more creative name than "2021 National Firearms Survey" to publish our initial results for this year, which has understandably been a source of confusion.

Neither of the 2021 National Firearms Surveys (NFS) have been released, in their full form, with all data, to the public. From the limited information in the draft released by Dr. English and the coverage of the information obtained by The Wall Street Journal, and published in The Hill, it appears the surveys have somewhat different areas of focus.

The English 2021 NFS has much more information about defensive gun uses than does the Azrael and Miller 2021 NFS. Azrael and Miller have much more information about when people purchased firearms. The English survey starts with over 54,000 contacts. The Azrael survey appears to start with over 19,000.

One finding from the English NFS supports a reported finding from the Azrael & Miller NFS. The English NFS shows 42% of gun owners in the United States are female. The Azrael & Miller NFS shows 3.5 million of 7.5 million new gun owners are women, or 47%. It is a reasonably close agreement. 

The 2015 survey done by Asrael, Hepburn, Hemenway, and Miller only showed 27% of gun owners were women, and 73% were men.  The 2015 Survey estimated the percent of gun owners in the United States at 22 percent of adults, which is significantly lower than several other surveys. Both the 2015 survey by Azrael and the 2021 survey by English show an average of 5 firearms per firearm owner.

The much larger 2021 NSF by English shows the percentage of adults owning guns in the United States at 32%. Add in those who own firearms and do not respond to surveys about firearms; the number is almost certainly more than one third.

To determine how far apart the two 2021 National Firearms Surveys are on basic numbers, such as how many firearms are in the United States, and how many people own firearms in the USA, we will have to wait for the release of the full surveys.

When released, their survey questions and methods used to conduct the surveys should be available to the public for comparison. 

Under the Second Amendment of the Bill of Rights, national registration of firearms is illegal in the United States. Several states also make state registration illegal. A small number of states require registration of all firearms, with a few more requiring registration of particular types of firearms. There is no official count of legally owned firearms in the United States.

©2021 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

Gun Watch




1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There was a study done a few years ago that claimed there were at least 450 million guns that were known of in the USA but there were millions of fire arms that never made it into that study Might be hundreds of millions because for many years there were no serial numbers required and for well over two centuries there were no requirements to register. and no limitations on making your own weapons. Now consider the millions of machines capable of making weapons in this country . They do not all belong to gun manufacturers. In fact most of those machines belong to private individuals. I have a rather nice set of drill bits from very small to three feet long. and every thing necessary to cast various parts. I claim to have the machines to make just about any thing I want. But I have yet to make a firearm. I could make the tools I do not have.