Garbage data in, garbage data out.

We’ve been warning readers for quite a while that the General Social Survey (GSS) cited so often by gun control supporters to claim that gun ownership is declining in the United States is utter rubbish.

The incredibly dubious claim by the University of Chicago that ownership is decreasing does not comport with other surveys, or with sales data, permit applications, ammunition consumption, the demand for more classes of every type, or range development and range usage data.

Quite simply, every credible data point suggests gun ownership in the United States has exploded in recent years, unbounded by age, race, sex, or (for the most part) geography.

This dependence on the clearly faulty GSS as an “article of faith” for gun control supporters has led to some absurdly interesting conclusions, with the latest bit of accidental humor coming from the Washington Post.

Christopher Ingraham is using his reliance on faulty GSS data to argue that since (in his reality) number of gun owners hasn’t actually increased, that each gun owner must be buying twice as many guns.

GARBAGE IN, GARBAGE OUT: Wonkblog uses a discredited survey that it desperately needs to believe in to draw even more laughably erroneous conclusions.
GARBAGE IN, GARBAGE OUT: Wonkblog uses a discredited survey that it desperately needs to believe in to draw even more laughably erroneous conclusions.

Here’s Ingraham’s amusing claim:

There are nearly twice as many guns in the average gun-owning household today as there were 20 years ago, according to new Wonkblog estimates based data from surveys and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. In 2013, there were an estimated 8.1 firearms in the typical gun-owning household, according to these data. In 1994, the average gun-owning household owned 4.2 guns.

These numbers comport with what survey research has shown for several years now: the share of gun-owning households has been declining over the past 20 years and possibly more, according to numbers from Gallup and the General Social Survey. On the other hand, domestic firearm production and imports of firearms have risen sharply, particularly in recent years. If those numbers are correct, it follows that increasing gun purchases are being driven primarily by existing owners stocking up rather than first-time buyers.

Plenty has been written about the decline in overall gun ownership rates. Many of these stories are based on the General Social Survey’s data, which shows household ownership rates falling from over 50 percent in the 1970s to around 32 percent today.

Here in reality, we know that about one-in-five gun owners are new shooters, that the fastest-growing demographics of gun ownership are young, urban, and female, and that the fastest growing sport in American high schools is shooting.

Put bluntly, the GSS claims don’t come close to matching actual hard data on the spread of firearms usage in the United States.

States are building more public ranges with taxpayer dollars because existing ranges cannot handle the influx of new shooters (not old shooters with more guns… that’s not how any of this works).

Likewise, privately-owned multi-million-dollar shooting facilities nicknamed “guntry clubs” are being developed in major metropolitan areas around the nation to cater to an increasing number of younger, wealthy urban and suburban shooters.

What Ingraham and his ilk refuse to accept is the very simple fact that the citizenry increasingly distrusts the government and the media, and people are not telling utter strangers about their firearms.

Garbage data is going into these surveys, and it’s hilarious to watch gun control supporters like Ingraham attempt to reconcile what he so desperately wants to believe against the data he cannot argue against, leading to such self-evidently absurd conclusions.