Nearly half of gun owners (48%) volunteer that the main reason they own a gun is for protection; just 32% say they have a gun primarily for hunting and even fewer cite other reasons, such as target shooting. In 1999, 49% said they owned a gun mostly for hunting, while just 26% cited protection as the biggest factor.
Among the survey’s other major findings:
- Gun owners and non-gun owners have fundamental disagreements over the effectiveness of new gun laws. Two-thirds (66%) of those who live in households that do not have guns say stricter gun laws would reduce the number of deaths in mass shootings, compared with just 35% of gun owners.
- Women make up just 26% of all gun owners. Most women say the main reason they own a gun is for protection; among men, protection also is the main reason, though men are more likely than women to say they own a gun for hunting.
- Partisan differences in attitudes about many gun-related issues are at least as great as the differences between gun owners and non-gun owners. Fully 79% of Democrats say tougher gun laws would cut down on the number of deaths from mass shootings; just 29% of Republicans agree.