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This photo taken on Thursday, June 27, 2013, shows a rack of rifles at Firing-Line gun store in Aurora, Colo., that can't  be sold in Colorado after June 30 because their magazines hold more than 15 rounds. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

Who's hoarding guns? Just 3 percent of Americans own almost 50 percent of all weapons

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Gun rights advocates often argue more people should own guns. But as gun sales boom, the weapons are mostly concentrating in a few owners' hands.

The Guardian reports 130 million American guns are owned by just 3 percent of American adults. There are about 265 million guns owned nationwide, so that 3 percent owns roughly 49 percent of the available guns.

Between 1994 and 2015, the number of guns owned by Americans increased by 70 million, but the percentage of gun owners decreased from 25 percent to 22 percent. 

The desire to own a gun for protection... It isn't a response to actual reality.
Matthew Miller, study author

A Harvard University/Northeastern University study found that amidst the sales surge, handguns in particular are on the rise, showing that self-defense is of increasing importance to gun owners. 

But violent crime in the U.S. has fallen sharply in recent years, FactCheck reports.

Walking around the beach with shirt off and shorts I'm probably going to use a different gun than putting on a sport coat and going out to dinner.
Philip van Cleave, gun-rights advocate

Now, among the 55 million gun owners in the U.S., most own three guns on average. But 7.7 million own between eight and 140 guns.  That's not that unusual. Marketing wisdom argues 20 percent of consumers will account for 80 percent of its sales. 

Other highlights from the data:

  • The number of women enrolled in the NRA's pistol course nearly doubled from 2011 to 2014, from 25,000 to 46,000
  • 30 percent of conservatives said they were gun owners, as opposed to 14 percent of liberals
  • 25 percent of white and multi-racial Americans were gun owners, compared to 16 percent of Hispanics and 14 percent of African-Americans
Should more Americans own guns?

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