Journalists in Fantasyland: How Anti-Gun Media Convince Themselves Gun Ownership Is Declining

One of the more interesting aspects of covering firearms-related news is the volume of data that is out there showing consistent record growth.

Some of that is hard, quantifiable data, such as the statistics showing that firearms manufacturing has roughly tripled since President Obama took office, and  doubled from 2010-2013.


The shooting sports industry is seeing not just record sales growth, but growth with incredible staying power. There hasn’t been the expected surge and then crash many expected post-Sandy Hook. There was a tremendous surge, and then sales of nearly everything have remained near peak levels. From firearms to ammunition to holsters, slings, optics and other accessories, there now appears to be a “new normal” median level of consumption, though we’ve not be able to peg precisely what that new normal is just yet as we don’t yet know what that carrying capacity might be.

But what do we know beyond this apparently across-the-board, record-setting sales surge? After all, supporters of gun control are attempting to claim that while sales are up, gun ownership is actually down (PDF).

Well, we know that the number of women shooting has more than doubled in the decade from 2001-2011, and there is good reason to believe that number of women picking up firearms has only accelerated in the past four years since then. We know that the wider culture is much more respecting of Second Amendment rights. In minority communities, the number of blacks who agreed with the statement, “gun ownership does more to protect people than endanger personal safety” is at 54%, a figure which nearly doubled from 2012.

We’re seeing the number of indoor and outdoor ranges, both public and private, growing to meet the demand for more firing line space. We’re even seeing a new kind of range being developed to cater to emerging, upwardly-mobile urban shooting markets. These upscale, multi-million dollar “guntry clubs” are popping up around the nation.


Firearms instruction is also noting significant growth across the nation. Concealed carry courses, basic gun safety, and basic handgun courses are among the most popular, but we’re also seeing a significant growth in interest for more advanced courses. Everything from defensive handgun training to carbine (modern sporting rifle) training, to defensive shotgun, and precision rifle.

Tactical team training, while still relatively a small “boutique” niche, is becoming increasingly popular as well, as citizens pony up hundreds to thousands of dollars to take classes with their friends, families, and prepper groups to form fire teams and even rifle squads capable of executing light infantry maneuvers.

The “well-regulated” militia—meaning, a militia in proper working order—is alive and well and growing in the United States, as all the arms, ammunition, and accouterments of the “modern militiamen” continue to sell to an ever larger number of citizens.

And yet, you keep seeing gun control groups and their allies in the media bitterly clinging to their “religion,” and by that, I mean the outdated General Social Survey (GSS), which is the only document I’m aware of that incredibly attempts to assert against all available data that the number of gun owners in the United States is somehow declining.

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Gun decline cultist Jan Hogan of the Las Vegas Review-Journal is just one example of a journalist attempting to use the GSS to hold onto the article of faith that gun ownership is declining.


The National Shooting Sports Foundation reports that 74 percent of U.S. gun retailers saw an increase in female patrons from 2011 to 2012, with women making up 20 percent of sales. Since 2005, female gun ownership in America has doubled in the $8 billion industry.

In contrast, a General Social Survey shows that the number of Americans who live in a household with at least one gun is lower than it’s ever been, with 32 percent either owning a firearm themselves or living with someone who does. In the late 1970s and early ’80s, roughly half of Americans told researchers there was a gun in their household.

What is the “General Social Survey?” It is a wide-ranging sociological study based on in-person interviews conducted at the University of Chicago.

Since 1972, the General Social Survey (GSS) has been monitoring societal change and studying the growing complexity of American society. The GSS aims to gather data on contemporary American society in order to monitor and explain trends and constants in attitudes, behaviors, and attributes; to examine the structure and functioning of society in general as well as the role played by relevant subgroups; to compare the United States to other societies in order to place American society in comparative perspective and develop cross-national models of human society; and to make high-quality data easily accessible to scholars, students, policy makers, and others, with minimal cost and waiting.

GSS questions include such items as national spending priorities, marijuana use, crime and punishment, race relations, quality of life, and confidence in institutions. Since 1988, the GSS has also collected data on sexual behavior including number of sex partners, frequency of intercourse, extramarital relationships, and sex with prostitutes.

Other researchers are invited to participate in the GSS. In 2012, additional questions addressed generosity, high risk behaviors, climate change, work values, human values, work place conflict, congregations, volunteering, religious identity, the environment, transition to adulthood, religious literature, participation in the arts, and racial identity.

The 2014 GSS has modules on quality of working life, shared capitalism, wealth, work and family balance, social identity, social isolation, and civic participation.


But here’s the thing: surveys such as the GSS are only as accurate as the information respondents give, and gun ownership is not something people want to discuss with the “hostile forces” of media, academia, and government anymore.

In the past decade or more, as citizen trust in academia, media, and government have steadily eroded, people have begun to see the need to arm themselves for self defense not just against criminals but a federal government that seems ever-more power-hungry and corrupt.

People stopped telling strangers whom they don’t trust about their firearms.

While you’ll find most gun owners tickled pink to hold forth at the range among other gunnies, they tend to clam up quickly when approached by outsiders with motives that they have learned not to trust.

This distrust has come, it is thought, from decades of abuse of gun owners by anti-gun journalists and academics, who have consistently taken information provided willingly, only to twist it out of context. The outlandish WCNC story twisting the words of Hyatt Guns employees we covered last month is a perfect example of this sort of malpractice (note: Bearing Arms’ exposure of WCNC’s deception forced them to pull the story).

The simple, obvious truth is that more and more people are refusing to talk to the University of Chicago (former employer of Barack Obama) about their firearms. They are simply telling researchers that they don’t have any, even though they may have a full gun-safe at home.


Far from declining, industry experts we’ve spoken with off the record are certain that the percentage of home with firearms in them is growing significantly, and made exceed 50%, trending opposite of what the GSS suggests.

So who should you believe?

Let’s apply logic.

Which is more credible, the claim that A): more homes own firearms because there are more shooters; or B): that a much smaller number of citizens are buying all the guns and ammo, and are always at the range requiring more to be built, and always training—and repeatedly taking intro classes, apparently—so that training classes are full?

A smart person would acknowledge the overwhelming data showing a trend, and throw out the flawed outlier.

The General Social Survey’s gun ownership claims simply aren’t credible, though since it is an article of faith for those desperate to deny reality, you’re going to play the devil getting supporters of gun control to acknowledge that obvious truth.

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