NM near top of nation when it comes to gun ownership

In the wake of the Planned Parenthood shooting in Colorado Springs that left three dead and the San Bernardino, California shooting that left 14 dead, there is a renewed focus on gun ownership. It’s well-known that gun sales in the United States spike after mass shootings that receive national attention. The two recent shootings are no exception. This […]

NM near top of nation when it comes to gun ownership

In the wake of the Planned Parenthood shooting in Colorado Springs that left three dead and the San Bernardino, California shooting that left 14 dead, there is a renewed focus on gun ownership.

Open carry rally in Richmond, VA in 2010. Photo Credit: formatted_dad cc
Open carry rally in Richmond, VA in 2010. Photo Credit: formatted_dad cc

It’s well-known that gun sales in the United States spike after mass shootings that receive national attention. The two recent shootings are no exception.

This leads some to wonder how many guns, exactly, there are in each state and how many people own guns in each state. The question isn’t exactly cut and dried, and varies depending on what study you read.

The latest look at this comes courtesy of CBS News which shows New Mexico has the third-most guns per capita. KRQE-TV, Albuquerque’s CBS affiliate, and KOAT-TV picked up on the report.

The numbers only look at registered guns and uses data from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives on firearm registration and transfer as well as population data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

According to the data, New Mexico has 40.5 guns for every 1,000 residents. That is a total of 84,471 registered firearms according to the ATF among 2,085,287 residents.

That is twice the rate of Alabama, which has the sixth-highest amount of firearms per resident and nearly four times the rate of Florida, which comes in at number 29 among states.

Wyoming has the highest rate of gun ownership, with 195.7 guns per 1,000 residents, followed by Arkansas, with 41.6 guns per 1,000 residents.

The District of Columbia, if it were a state, would slot in at number two, with a rate of 66.4 guns per 1,000 residents.

These numbers, of course, only include legal ownership.

A study in the journal Injury Prevention found that 49.9 percent of New Mexicans own a gun, which would rank New Mexico seventh in the nation. That study looked at gun ownership as of 2013.

The highest percentage of gun ownership in that study was Alaska, with 61.7 percent. New Mexico’s gun ownership in that study was 15 percentage points higher than the closest neighbor (Colorado) and well above the national rate of 29.1 percent.

The General Social Survey, a large-scale poll conducted every two years by NORC at the University of Chicago, found that in 2014 22.4 percent of adults owned firearms nationwide. The study attributed this to the decline in popularity of hunting.

There were no numbers for individual states in that report.

In 2012, a study found that nationwide, the amount of households with guns fell but that those who already owned guns were purchasing more guns. So even if the percentage of those owning weapons did not increase, the amount of guns per capita would continue raise.

The CBS News analysis differs from one done by The Daily Beast in 2010, which had New Mexico at 20th in states with most guns per capita. This doesn’t mean there was a big increase in gun ownership in the state over the past five years, though.

The Daily Beast used state data from the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) over 18 months. However, NICS data wouldn’t capture multiple sales under one check or sales that don’t require a check due to the purchaser being licensed to carry, which would preempt the need for a NICS check.

The Injury Prevention study polled 4,000 adults nationwide using the online service YouGov. The General Social Survey reported on data from 1,711 adults nationwide.

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