Number of handgun owners carrying daily in the U.S. doubled in the last 4 years: study

Twice the number of Americans were carrying handguns daily in 2019 compared to 2015, according to a new study published this month. 

Around 6,000 gun owners carried handguns every day in 2019, up from 3,000 in 2015, according to a study from the American Journal of Public Health published on Nov. 16.

The number of respondents to the online survey who said they had carried a gun in the last month also nearly doubled from 9 million to 16 million in 2015.

The study focuses solely on owners carrying a handgun on their person, not in their car.  

5df182c2-Open carry gun rally in Austin, Texas.

Two women compare handgun holsters during an open carry rally at the Texas State Capitol in Austin, Texas. On January 1, 2016 (Photo by Erich Schlegel/Getty Images)

The upward trend found in the study comes as states loosen restrictions for carrying a handgun and more gun owners cite protection as a top concern. 

A U.S. Supreme Court case last June also overturned strict gun carrying laws in New York. 

The authors wrote, "This ruling could further catalyze the loosening of firearm-carrying regulations in different parts of the country at a time when, as our study indicates, trends in handgun carrying already point to more US adults carrying loaded handguns in public places, including without a permit when a permit is required." 


The study authors said a June U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning restrictive gun-carrying laws in New York could "catalyze the loosening of firearm-carrying regulations in different parts of the country."(Photo by Robert Alexander/Getty Images)

The study’s lead authors were Ali Rowhani-Rahbar, an epidemiology professor at the University of Washington; Amy Gallagher of the University of Washington; Deborah Azrael of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center; and Matthew Miller from Northeastern University, and the Harvard Injury Control Research Center. 

The authors added, "Little is known about the frequency and features of firearm carrying among adult handgun owners in the United States. In fact, over the past 30 years, only a few peer-reviewed national surveys, conducted in 1994, 1995, 1996, and 2015, have provided even the most basic information about firearm carrying frequency."


A gunman allegedly killed five people at a nightclub in Colorado Springs last Saturday. (Photo by Chet Strange/Getty Images)

In 1994, the percentage of gun owners who said their main reason for having a firearm was protection was 46%, by 2015 it went up to 64% and spiked to 73% by 2019. In 2021, it was 83%. 

Only one state allowed permit less handgun carry in 1990 but by 2021 it had increased to 21 states, according to the study. 

The study also comes amid crime spikes in cities across the country. 

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