One in every three American adults owns a gun with Alaska having the highest rate of gun ownership at 62 percent, according to a study from New York's Columbia University.
Study researchers said firearm ownership was tied closely to “social gun culture” where gun owners associated with each other either within families or groups of friends, all thinking less of non gun owners.
Study Lead author Dr. Bindu Kalesan of Columbia's Mailman School of Public Health, said “Considering the presence of deeply rooted gun culture and the estimated number of guns in the U.S. to be 310 million, we suspected that social gun culture is associated with gun ownership. This association was strong even after removing the effect of other factors such as presence of gun laws and gun deaths”.
She said compared to other developed countries, civilian gun ownership in the U.S.A. is extremely high.
Data used in the study came from a 2013 online survey which questioned 4,000 people over the age of 18 from throughout the 50 US states and the District of Columbia.
The study found gun ownership rates varied state by state.
Approximately 29 per cent of those surveyed reported owning a gun. The state's with the lowest gun ownership were Delaware with five per cent and six percent in Rhode Island with 6 percent which fell in with findings that gun ownership was less common in the Northeast.
Kalesen said those wanting to discourage gun ownership should note that the study found universal background checks for purchasing guns and ammunition tended to be the most effective laws in discouraging gun ownership.
More than 50 per cent of people surveyed in Idaho, West Virginia, Wyoming, Arkansas and Montana were gun owners. Alaska headed the list with 62 percent.
Disturbing to the anti gun lobby would be the finding that only 5 percent of gun owners reported using their guns for hunting, and only 10 percent reported having attended gun safety classes.
Kalesan said although US gun ownership is on the decline, sales are up, meaning those who own them are buying more.