. . .
While there is some dispute about the numbers, both the General Social Survey and the Pew Research Center report a decline in gun ownership in this country. As important, these guns are concentrated in fewer hands. While Americans own more than 260 million civilian guns, according to a 2015 Harvard and Northeastern University study, 3 percent of the population owns half of those guns. This reflects the decline of hunting as a sport and cultural pastime, as the country comes less rural and the population more diverse. Now a narrower group of people owns guns, and they are more likely to say they have them for self-protection (60 percent cite personal safety vs. 36 percent who hunt, according to a 2013 Gallup poll).
At the same time, voters’ views on this issue are changing. Even before the shootings in El Paso and Dayton, Gallup recorded the highest level of support for stricter gun laws in 25 years. The share of voters very dissatisfied with the nation’s gun laws has nearly doubled from 2008 (21 percent) to 2019 (40 percent). While the NRA tears itself apart over accusations of mismanagement and questions about its strategy, national polling shows that the organization gets net-negative ratings for the first time in two decades. In a recent GQR survey of 2,000 likely 2020 voters, more than 1 in 4 say their views on guns have changed within the past five years. This number includes 1 in 3 Democrats, but also 1 in 4 independents and 1 in 5 Republicans. Among these voters, 78 percent — and 70 percent of Republicans — have moved toward supporting stronger gun laws.