Just 3% of Americans own more than half the country's guns
Studies indicate that most guns are owned by a small amount of Americans, while the majority's views on gun control issues are ignored by lawmakers.
Americans are not as gun-obsessed as some would like their countrymen to believe. Linking gun ownership to the identity of being an American has been a successful sales tactic that is more myth than reality. The numbers show that a small, unrepresentative, but disproportionately vocal portion of the American population, aided by self-serving politicians and a powerful lobby organization, has enacted its agenda over the majority of Americans, who do not own guns and would rather see much stronger gun safety regulations.
How many Americans actually own a gun? A 2016 study by Harvard and Northeastern University put the total number of privately-owned firearms in the U.S. at 265 million, with more than half of that — 133 million — being concentrated in the hands of just 3 percent of Americans, called "super owners," who have an average of 17 guns each.
For another perspective on this stunning statistic, consider that the Small Arms Survey estimates there to be around 650 million civilian-owned firearms total in the world. In contrast, about 200 million firearms are owned by the armed forces, while 26 million are in law enforcement hands. So we have 3 percent of Americans owning about 20 percent of the world's stockpile of firearms.
A 2017 poll by the Pew Research Center found that the amount of Americans who actually own a gun themselves is at about 30 percent of the country's citizens. Maybe this should be obvious math but here it goes anyway — about 70 percent of the people in the U.S. do not own a gun. Among households, 42 percent of Americans live in a home where someone keeps a gun. That leaves about 58 percent of Americans who live in a gun-free house.
credit: Pew Research Center
Overall, the percentage of gun owners in the U.S. has been declining relative to the population growth and is at an almost 40-year low, reported the Washington Post. Across a number of national polls, gun ownership has fallen by 10 – 20 percent from the 1970s.
If you want to chew on the numbers further, 48 percent of white men in America currently have a gun. That's compared to 24% of white women and 24% of nonwhite men, as well as 16 percent of nonwhite women.
One other telling characteristic — the less education you have, the more likely you are a gun owner. About a third (31 percent) of the people who only have a high school diploma have a gun, 34 percent of those who some college education, but only a quarter of those with a bachelor's degree report to be gun owners. Among whites only, the number of high school diploma owners with a gun jumps up to 40 percent, compared to 26 percent for college graduates.
Another factor that plays into this - the farther you live from a city, the more likely you are to own a gun, as 46 percent of Americans who live in rural areas are gun owners. This is in contrast to 28 percent of suburbanites or 19 percent of those who live in urban areas, who feel compelled to get a weapon.
Combine this with the statistics that the number one reason (among 67 percent) for owning a gun is "protection," while 89 percent of gun owners see having one as important to their overall identity and another 85 percent say guns are essential to their sense of freedom.
Located next to a Wellness store, this is the Sunrise Tactical Supply store in Coral Springs, Florida on February 16, 2018 where school shooter Nikolas Cruz bought his AR-15 to gun down students at Marjory Stoneman High School. (Photo credit: MICHELE EVE SANDBERG/AFP/Getty Images)
It's also telling that among gun owners, only 66 percent say they keep their guns in a locked place (34% don't), 59% take gun safety courses while 41% keep their shooting skills up to date. Only 44 percent keep all their guns unloaded, 26% tell visitors with children that there are guns in the house and only 5 percent would share that knowledge with those who come to their house without children.
So, accordingly, a large enough proportion of gun owners are not up to speed on how to use their guns, don't keep them locked up or unloaded and won't tell others they have guns in the house, even if children are involved.
Now, how many people are involved with the all-powerful National Rifle Association (NRA)? There are about 5 million members of the NRA, the leading gun lobby organization. Of course, the NRA has some stats of its own, looking to bolster its percentages in a country of 321 milliion. It counters that if you take into account lapsed memberships and people whose family members are in the NRA, you can get "more than 14 million Americans" who “consider themselves NRA members."
It's telling, of course, that the NRA is counting members by estimating what people might be thinking rather than actual facts, while spending at least $203.2 million dollars on political activities which include donating to candidates and lobbying, since 1998 (as per PolitFact). The group also often spends money indirectly to help defeat any legislation that it may perceive to be lessening gun rights or contributes to candidates through affiliates.
A protester holds a sign that reads, 'NRA Stop Killing Our Kids', outside the court-room where Nikolas Cruz, 19, a former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, was having a bond hearing in front of Broward Judge Kim Mollica at the Broward County Courthouse on February 15, 2018 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. (Photo by Charles Trainor Jr. - Pool/Getty Images)
The NRA was a significant factor in the repeal of an Obama-era law that was blocking mentally ill people from purchasing guns. The measure to nix the existing rule was signed by President Trump in one his first actions on the job. This fact has come back to life with a vengeance in the aftermath of the high school shooting in Florida, where a mentally unstable teenager, who was repeatedly reported to the authorities, was somehow allowed to purchase an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle - the weapon with which he carried out the horrific tragedy of murdering 17 people.
According to the Pew Research Center, 89 percent of both gun-owners and non-gun owners agree that there should be legislation that would prevent the mentally ill from purchasing guns. 77% of gun owners and 87% of non-gun owners (84 percent of total adults) think there should be background checks for private sales and at gun shows, closing the “gun show loophole". Over 80 percent of both groups would bar gun purchases to people on the no-fly or watch lists, and 71 percent would create a federal database to track gun sales.
Semi-automatic AR-15's is shown at Good Guys Guns & Range on February 15, 2018 in Orem, Utah. An AR-15 was used in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)
Disagreements start to creep in when talking about banning assault-style weapons like the AR-15, with 77 percent of non-gun owners being in favor, and 48 percent of gun owners, which still makes for 68 percent of all adults. Similarly, 65 percent of all adults would ban high-capacity magazines.
Of course, as regulations stall, the sheer amount of guns in America is staggering to consider as is the number of mass shootings, with more than one mass shooting happening per day on average. It is a shameful statistic for a developed country and a world leader. Stronger laws are necessary but any attempt at them has been constantly pushed back by gun-lobby influenced politicians. In fact, the opposite has been happening - there are fewer restrictions than ever.
One other factor to consider if you think the gun lobby cannot be stopped and nothing will ever change in America — as of 2018, gun sales are going down. It's not hard to guess why — President Obama is out of office and "fear-based buying" is down with the pro-gun President Trump in office. No longer can it be claimed by the gun industry that Obama is coming to take anyone's guns.
And maybe that's how it should be. What people who see gun control as necessary need is to cause a change in consciousness that cannot be enacted by any one man or woman. The majority of Americans see plainly the danger unregulated guns continue to pose to their society but must finally feel their power in numbers. They have to organize and make changes to the reality where a relatively small amount of passionate people, who see guns as essential to their identity (which is not a part of the national character of America), dictate their will.
What would happen if you tripled the US population? Join Matthew Yglesias and Charles Duhigg at 1pm ET on Monday, September 28.
Whether or not women think beards are sexy has to do with "moral disgust"
- A new study found that women perceive men with facial hair to be more attractive as well as physically and socially dominant.
- Women tend to associate more masculine faces with physical strength, social assertiveness, and formidability.
- Women who display higher levels of "moral disgust," or feelings of repugnance toward taboo behaviors, are more likely to prefer hairy faces.
Beards and perceptions of masculinity<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjU5OTg0MC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NzkxMjM3N30.cH-GqNwP5GVqvstgJWAhBPn1B_lYpVEAI0I7iax7EQw/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C1900%2C0%2C849&height=700" id="caae6" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="cb0a355a4e8e1899789bc45f3f7aef56" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Photo Credit: Wikimedia<p>The study used 919 American (mostly white) women ages 18-70 who rated 30 pictures of men they were shown with various stages of facial hair growth. The photographs depicted men with faces that had been digitally altered to look more feminine or more masculine, with a beard and without a beard. The women rated the men according to perceived attractiveness for long-term and short-term relationships. The study found that the more facial hair the men had, the higher the men were rated on their attractiveness, particularly for their suitability for a long-term relationship.</p><p>Part of this might be attributed to facial masculinity — i.e. protruding brow ridge, wide cheekbones, thick jawline, and deeply set narrow eyes — which conveys information to a woman about a man's underlying health and formidability. Women tend to associate more masculine faces with physical strength and social assertiveness. It can also indicate a man with a superior immune response. The researchers suggested that their findings favoring bearded men could be due to the fact that facial hair enhances the masculine facial features on a man's face, like creating the illusion of a thicker jaw line. This could communicate direct benefits to women like resources and protection that would enhance survival among mothers and their infants. In other words, while a beard doesn't mean superior genetics in and of itself, it might be a primitive, ornamental way of saying, "Hey girl, I'm a testosterone-fueled lean, mean, pathogen fighting machine." <br></p><p>It could also be that a beard becomes its own destiny. The researchers in this study cite prior research that found that by growing a beard, men felt more masculine and had higher levels of serum testosterone, which was linked to a higher level of social dominance. They also tended to subscribe to more old-school beliefs about gender roles in their relationships with women as compared to men with clean-shaven faces.<span></span><br></p>
What does disgust have to do with beard preference?<p>Obviously, not all women dig beards. The researchers were particularly interested in what traits make a women prefer bearded men over clean-shaven faces. They looked into several factors including a woman's disgust levels on various concepts, her desire to become pregnant, and her exposure to facial hair in her personal life. </p><p>According to the study, women who were not into facial hair were turned-off by potential parasites or other critters they imagined could be in the hair or skin. Women ranking high on this "ectoparasite disgust" scale might have viewed beards as a sign of poor grooming habits. However, women who ranked higher in levels of "pathogen" did find the bearded men to be desirable, possibly because they perceived beards as a signal of good health and immune function. An intriguing discovery in the study was links to morality. Women who displayed higher levels of "moral disgust," or feelings of repugnance toward taboo behaviors, were more likely to prefer hairy faces. The authors opined that this could reflect a link between beardedness, politically conservative outlooks, and traditional views regarding performances of masculinity in heterosexual relationships.</p>
Additional findings<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjU5OTg1My9vcmlnaW4uZ2lmIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyNDI1NjUyOX0.P9B8WbmJR0q4nfzYZKbuNSA-2SAigVWJgrQE-_Gxlds/img.gif?width=980" id="49143" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2ed3b1d6f20fc170bf2974646e565e8d" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />Giphy<p>The correlations that existed between married and single women's rating on the attractiveness of beards were not particularly clear, although the researchers noted that single and married women who wanted children tended to find beards more attractive than the women who didn't want children. They also found that women with bearded husbands found beards to be more attractive, which might indicate that social exposure to beards influences how desirable they are perceived of as being. Or it could be that men with wives who like beards grow beards.</p><p>It's important to note that culture plays a huge role in how attractive women perceive certain male characteristics as being. This study looked at a small, culturally specific group of American women, so no big, universal claims should be made about masculinity, facial hair, and male desirability to women. However, research like this is important in highlighting how human grooming decisions are driven by much more than fashion trends. Sociobiological, economic, and ecological factors all play a part in the way we choose to present ourselves.</p>
Dominique Crenn, the only female chef in America with three Michelin stars, joins Big Think Live.
Having been exposed to mavericks in the French culinary world at a young age, three-star Michelin chef Dominique Crenn made it her mission to cook in a way that is not only delicious and elegant, but also expressive, memorable, and true to her experience.
New experiments find weird quantum activity in supercold gas.
Quantum Mechanics, Onions, and a Theory of Everything<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="036ae7b8dd661df2d125a3421a0299ba"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/bcVruA0AJ-o?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
Researchers say that moral self-licensing occurs "because good deeds make people feel secure in their moral self-regard."
Books about race and anti-racism have dominated bestseller lists in the past few months, bringing to prominence authors including Ibram Kendi, Ijeoma Oluo, Reni Eddo-Lodge, and Robin DiAngelo.