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Handgun owners carrying daily in US doubled in 4 years; self-protection cited as main reason: study

Twice the number of Americans were carrying handguns daily in 2019 compared to 2015, according to a new study published this month. 

Around 6,000 gun owners carried handguns every day in 2019, up from 3,000 in 2015, according to a study from the American Journal of Public Health published on Nov. 16.

The number of respondents to the online survey who said they had carried a gun in the last month also nearly doubled from 9 million to 16 million in 2015.

The study focuses solely on owners carrying a handgun on their person, not in their car.  

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Twice the number of Americans were carrying handguns daily in 2019 compared to 2015, according to a new study published this month. 

Twice the number of Americans were carrying handguns daily in 2019 compared to 2015, according to a new study published this month. 
(iStock)

The upward trend found in the study comes as states loosen restrictions for carrying a handgun and more gun owners cite protection as a top concern. 

A U.S. Supreme Court case last June also overturned strict gun carrying laws in New York. 

The authors wrote, “This ruling could further catalyze the loosening of firearm-carrying regulations in different parts of the country at a time when, as our study indicates, trends in handgun carrying already point to more US adults carrying loaded handguns in public places, including without a permit when a permit is required.” 

The study authors said a June U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning restrictive gun-carrying laws in New York could "catalyze  the loosening of firearm-carrying regulations in different parts of the country."

The study authors said a June U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning restrictive gun-carrying laws in New York could "catalyze  the loosening of firearm-carrying regulations in different parts of the country."
(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

The study’s lead authors were Ali Rowhani-Rahbar, an epidemiology professor at the University of Washington; Amy Gallagher of the University of Washington; Deborah Azrael of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center; and Matthew Miller from Northeastern University, and the Harvard Injury Control Research Center. 

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The authors added, “Little is known about the frequency and features of firearm carrying among adult handgun owners in the United States. In fact, over the past 30 years, only a few peer-reviewed national surveys, conducted in 1994, 1995, 1996, and 2015, have provided even the most basic information about firearm carrying frequency.”

A gunman allegedly killed five people at a nightclub in Colorado Springs last Saturday. 

A gunman allegedly killed five people at a nightclub in Colorado Springs last Saturday. 
(Photo by Chet Strange/Getty Images)

In 1994, the percentage of gun owners who said their main reason for having a firearm was protection was 46%, by 2015 it went up to 64% and spiked to 73% by 2019. In 2021, it was 83%. 

Only one state allowed permit less handgun carry in 1990 but by 2021 it had increased to 21 states, according to the study. 

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The study also comes amid crime spikes in cities across the country. 

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