Survey: National Decline in Gun Ownership Parallels Decline in H - KFBB.com News, Sports and Weather

Survey: National Decline in Gun Ownership Parallels Decline in Hunting

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Gun ownership across the nation is declining, according to a General Social Survey conducted by NORC with the University of Chicago.

According to the survey, 32 percent of Americans own a firearm or live with someone who does. That's the lowest number since 2010. It's a decline since the late 1970s and early 80s when about half did.

The survey attributes part of the decline to a reduction in the number of Americans who hunt. In 1977, one-third of the people said they lived in a household with at least one hunter and that number is now less than half.

But here in Montana, that isn't the case. According to Bob Gibson with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, from 2002 through 2012, the number of hunters has remained steady in Montana at 189,000. He says if you hunt, Montana is the place to go. FWP reports Montana has more different species of animals than any other state in the nation. Gibson also says the heritage of hunting is passed down as this spring's hunter education classes are the biggest they've ever had.

"It's outdoors,” Gibson says. “It's family. It's something that has been part of the way that Montanans live clear from the time pioneers got here.”

Though the numbers of households with a gun may be on a downward trend, the FBI's criminal background checks show an increase, suggesting the purchase of firearms is increasing.

Another key fact: the gender gap in gun ownership is shrinking. Thirty-five percent of men say they own a gun to 12 percent of women.

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