The Weekly Reload Podcast

Georgetown Professor on His Groundbreaking Survey of Gun Owners

September 12th, 2022

We took a look at the largest-ever survey of gun owners this week. I covered the topline results, and Contributing Writer Jake Fogleman wrote an analysis for members on what the survey showed about AR-15s in American society. We plan to write quite a bit more on the study because of how much high-quality data is in it.

That brings us to this week's podcast. Georgetown Professor William English, who conducted the survey, joins us to discuss the details.

English said he wanted to update the evidence and address some common critiques of well-known gun owner surveys from a few decades ago. With new methods of carrying out scientific surveys, he was able to actually exceed those previous surveys by growing the number of respondents to the point where there were enough in every state to be representative. The massive sample size helped English deliver new insights on the diversity of gun ownership and how common gun carrying has become throughout the country.

It also backed up other evidence on how frequent defensive gun uses are and how many Americans own magazines that hold more than ten rounds. English said the gun owners he surveyed reported using a gun for self-defense about 50 million times, a number that works out to about 1.6 million per year. He also found that most gun owners have bought the kind of magazines targeted by bans in some blue states.

English also explained why he decided to use a survey to measure gun use and responded to some of the criticism self-reported self-defense incidents have faced over the years. He said his research on guns in America is only just getting started. He plans to publish several more papers on the study in addition to writing a book tackling the benefits and drawbacks of America's culture of civilian gun ownership.

Plus, Jake and I talk about Smith & Wesson's sales falling off a cliff last quarter and what it means for the company moving forward.