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Gun Culture - 1994 vs 2014

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by eocoolj, Nov 7, 2012.

  1. Hacker15E

    Hacker15E Well-Known Member

    Let's not forget that the 94 AWB was not the first shot! In 1994, we were also still smarting from the 1989 import ban of semiauto rifles without a "sporting purpose". This is the law that banned imports of rifles with particular features, like pistol grips and flash hiders (sound familiar?) and led to makers making cosmetic changes to existing rifles so they could be imported, like the MAK-90 ('modified AK -- 1990').

    That law was a public kneejerk to a schoolyard shooting out in California.
  2. benEzra

    benEzra Moderator Emeritus

    Here is some data to get started. It's a few years old and it's a post I put together for a DU thread so not all of it may be relevant, and the numbers may have risen somewhat since I last looked, so use it as a jumping-off point.

    We have hard data on the number of Americans who hunt, which is tracked annually, and the Census Bureau releases a report on hunting and fishing every 5 years.


    They show 12.5 million licensed hunters over the age of 16 as having hunted in 2006 (link, p. 4). If you add in the estimated 1.6 million hunters under 16, you get ~14.1 million active hunters in 2006 (p. 4). For the 5-year period between 2001 and 2006, they found that 18.6 million people hunted at least once during that time.

    The consensus around the 'net is that the number of gun owning adults in the United States is about 80 million. So you're looking at a little under 1 in 5 gun owners being an active hunter, and little under 1 in 4 having hunted at any time in a 5-year period.

    Over half of those own handguns (I have the cite floating around here somewhere, but don't have it at the moment, sorry), although many and perhaps most handgun owners also own long guns. Somewhere around 16 to 20 million of us own "assault weapons" as defined by H.R.1022 et seq, if you look at the ownership totals of all the guns so defined, but since the definition of "assault weapon" is arbitrary, that number can range anywhere from 4 to 40 million depending on whose definition you use.

    About 34.4 million people went target shooting in 2009, about 8.9 million of whom were using AR-15 type rifles and other modern-looking carbines, which dominate both competitive and recreational target shooting in the USA.


    As far as gun sales go, in a typical year, 5 to 9 million gun sales are approved by the NICS Federal background check system (which includes new and used guns sold by dealers, but not private sales between individuals in states that don't require those to go through NICS). This is about evenly split between handguns (mostly semiautomatics) and long guns (also mostly semiautomatics). About 8 or 9 billion (yes, with a "b") rounds of ammunition are sold each year as well, the overwhelming majority of which is expended by recreational target shooters, as hunters would generally fire only a few hundred rounds a year. There was a surge in 2008-2009 due to fears about new proposals for an "assault weapon" ban, leading to 12 million NICS approvals in 2008 and about 14 million in 2009, with 14.033 billion rounds of ammunition sold in 2009 as well.


    I don't have citations for this handy, but a single model of rifle, the AR-15 platform, accounts for about 1 in 4 centerfire rifles sold annually. AR-15's are manufactured by approximately 30 companies and are currently the top selling centerfire rifle in the United States.

    The top selling ammunition caliber in the USA is .22LR, due to its low cost. I don't have sources handy for this either, but the top selling centerfire rifle calibers are AFAIK .223 Remington (AR-15, mini-14), 7.62x39mm (AK, SKS), and .308 Winchester (M1A, FAL, many target and hunting rifles), in that order. I believe the top selling centerfire handgun caliber is consistently 9mm, though I can't find any sources at the moment.

    In most polls as to the reason for owning a firearm, the reasons are consistently (1) defensive purposes, (2) target shooting, (3) hunting, and (4) collecting, in that order. For example:

    http://www.nssf.org/share/PDF/NSSFHarris-data-participation.pdf (raw data for above)
    http://www.gallup.com/poll/20098/gun-ownership-use-america.aspx (absolute numbers for all categories are higher than actual participation, but relative order is the same)

    So you know where I'm coming from, I'm a nonhunter who shoots recreationally, competitively when I can (USPSA pistol and carbine), and holds a CHL. I'm somewhat interested in hunting and may actually get around to taking the NC hunter's safety course this year, but it's not high on my priority list.
  3. gp911

    gp911 Well-Known Member

    When you ask about the political climate and how the AWB happened you have to remember there was no youtube, no facebook, no streaming video of happy folks enjoying firearms, etc. Whatever your home environment and local political climate was, well, as SM sez: "How raised, what you do."

    People couldn't learn all about firearms from their living room couch back then, so if the people on TV said something about evil assault weapons being banned then it must be true, unless you owned one and knew better. A lot of hunters were okay with the ban because hunting already has magazine restrictions, licensing, etc and they figured nobody was coming for their hunting guns so why worry about those ugly commie guns and their "banana clips" and whatnot.

    Now you can change hearts & minds country-wide by having a conversation online and sharing some links to good information. Back then it was a whole different ballgame. The AWB will be a much harder sell these days, but the real danger is SCOTUS appointees changing the court's majority viewpoint to anti-gun and allowing for all sorts of backdoor infringements to stand.
  4. ManBearPig

    ManBearPig member

    Here's the problem with that, the anti-gun side has just as much love for redefining terms as it does comeing up with made-up terms like "assault clips". So we need to show the sales of ARs and AKs over the past....say 20 years; to prove they are "in common use". Not that that will stop the Brady Campaign from trying to redefine the word common so it fits their agenda. I'm positive they will try to say common doesn't mean common.
  5. DammitBoy

    DammitBoy Well-Known Member

    Scotus appointments for the win.

    I'm also very concerned on the taxation angle. It worked for healthcare, it will be used on firearms. We will see a tax on firearm sales to help with healthcare costs related to firearm deaths/injuries.

    We will see a tax on ammunition and an effort to make ammunition sales regulated. We will probably see a new effort to call ammunition a hazmat material.
  6. cfullgraf

    cfullgraf Well-Known Member

    While I would not put it past any government official to raise taxes on anything, a wide spread tax on an industry will probably backfire. Clinton tried to tax high cost luxury items in the nineties and it darn near put the economy in a tail spin as folks stopped buying them.

    Firearms have a wider effect than just the purchase of the firearm or ammunition itself. So if the firearm industry takes a hit, a broader segment of the economy (tourism, hunting, camping sales, travel, etc) will be affected.

    That is not to say isolated instances such as Cook County will not happen. Politicians there are wanting to look like they are doing something with their gang war problems.

    We still need to support those who work to maintain gun rights and oppose anything against it.

    I once attended a talk by and FAA accident investigation official. He commented that one of the frequent questions he was asked was he not tired of all the publicity the press heaps on any aviation accident. His answer was the publicity keeps the aviation industry striving to become ever safer. If the publicity stops, the industry will fall into complacency.

    Similar comments can be made about our firearm sport and hobbies. We cannot become complacent on any small infringement of firearms and firearm ownership.
  7. Owen Sparks

    Owen Sparks member

    We now have statistics on our side that prove that the AWB had no measurable effect on violent crime and that so called assault rifles were only used in about one and a half percent of all gun crimes since then. Not that facts and reason will have any effect on emotion based liberalism, but facts can sway the vast majority of people in the middle who are generally open to reason.
  8. razorback2003

    razorback2003 Well-Known Member

    I hated paying 70 bucks for used Glock 15 round magazines, but I did. The whole Clinton thing was a pain because you ended up paying more for magazines.

    AR's are much more popular now and mainstream than in the mid 90's. It would be a lot harder for the fed govt to stop the new manufacture of them.
  9. GEM

    GEM Well-Known Member

    Gun culture article:

    Wyant, B.R., & Taylor, R. B. (2007). Size of household firearm collections: implication for subcultures and gender. Criminology, 45, 519-546. doi: 10.1111/j.1745-9125.2007.00087.x
  10. Hacker15E

    Hacker15E Well-Known Member

    Oh, to go back to those pre-94 days when few had ARs and most had tacti-cool'd out SKSs!
  11. siglite

    siglite Well-Known Member

    Outstanding. I have some reading to do. Thanks.
  12. threefeathers

    threefeathers Well-Known Member

    The 94 hit me by surprise. I immediately took a loan out and bought an HBAR. I had a 40 witness and S&W 915 as my only high cap guns. Mags for all of these went out of sight. I had 4 for the Witness and 5 for the 915. I had 5 twenty round mags for the HBAR that I had brought back from ADuty. I still have the and the work today. I had only 2 thirty rounders until my son 'left; some when he was home on leave from the 82nd,
    I carried a 1911 for CCW and fired Service rifle comp with the HBAR. Around 1997 I got a nice High Power with 3 mags and an M1 carbine that included 4 Issue 30 round mags.
    On 9/11 I helped patrol the bridges on I-10 near the border and carried the HBAR and 1911, and my buddy had a British Jungle Carbine with AP rounds and a Colt Commander.
    By that time high cap mags were selling for triple their normal price,
    The day the ban ended I bought a Bushmaster M Forgery, and a SIG 229 with 5 mags. I haven't stopped. I now have 7 AR's of different types and at least 15 mgs per gun.
  13. Owen Sparks

    Owen Sparks member

    This is why any new ban would be innefective. Too many people own too many modern rifles and high capacity magazines compaired to 20 years ago.
  14. chicharrones

    chicharrones Well-Known Member

    That is my memory as well. I just didn't see near as many in the gun stores or at the range back then. The military pattern rifles I saw were nearly all mil-surps back then.
  15. chicharrones

    chicharrones Well-Known Member

    All I had was what most civilians had. Gun magazines and newspapers. The newspapers carried some of the political stories and the NRA magazines carried our side of it.

    I remember taking my SKS out back then with people publicly telling me it was "illegal" even though I bought it legally from the local sporting goods store. Regular uneducated shooters at that time seemed to think anything with a gas tube was military only.
  16. benEzra

    benEzra Moderator Emeritus

    Yes. They were very much an enthusiasts' gun, and there weren't very many good options for optics either. The most common configuration I saw was 20" HBAR boat anchors mostly limited to iron sights only unless you wanted a low-powered traditional scope in a gooseneck mount. Aftermarket pistol grip stocks had hit the market for the SKS and Ruger mini-14, so you occasionally saw those (and I wanted one badly for my mini pre-1994 but never made it a financial priority) but guns with traditional looking straight wooden stocks dominated at the range.

    Owners of modern-looking rifles were sometimes subjected to snide comments by older or more traditional shooters at the range, too, showing just how successfully the media had propagated the "black gun = evil gun" meme. I remember talking to people who had been approached by random strangers at the range and criticized for owning a gun "like that". Never mind an AR was and is functionally identical to a Ruger mini-14...plenty of shooters who should have known better were as emotionally wrapped up in black-rifle hysteria as the media were.

    Fast forward to now, when the AR isn't just in the mainstream but *defines* the mainstream, and probably 50 million gun owners collectively own half a billion full-capacity magazines for various guns, and there is simply no way a ban could fly now, either politically or logistically.
  17. gfanikf

    gfanikf Well-Known Member

    Honestly I never even knew ARs existed, it was all AKs that would be talked about.

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SGH-I747 using Tapatalk 2
  18. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Well-Known Member

    I remember the George H W Bush import ban in, 1989 (I believe). For me there was little warning. I bought an Uzi Mini-carbine immediately. But really didn't like shooting it much, so I sold it after owning it a few months. It simply did not seem to be accurate enough for me for a rifle.

    The 1994 AWB was something that I was fairly familiar with. But information was not timely and was gained mostly from reading gun magazines. I was attending gunshows frequently between 1989 and 1994. But it was at this time that my financial situation changed and I bought very very few firearms for the next 10-years.

    Grandfathering existing guns would make a new ban in effective relative to reducing crime if that is the justification for the legislation. Our President said something significant about taxation during the campaign... he basically said that he wanted to tax people earning 250K or more at a higher rate because it is "right". A gun ban would likely be sold in the same way and the facts or the reality relative to law enforcement would not matter. Hence it is about people control for our "own good" just like Obama Care.

    A ban would only be effective from an anti-gun supporter perspective if the actual guns are moved to the NFA catagory or banned outright. There would be a problem of definition just like during the '94 AWB time.

    A magazine ban is another matter entirely. The government (if passed legislatively) could in fact make it law that use of magazines that exceed 10-rounds is illegal. Shooting ranges would have to comply. You would still see the occasional person wandering around the woods with his 30-round mag, but in general a ban would end it. This is what I am afraid of. As a civilian. I personally don't care for box magazines that hold more than about 20 rounds. But everyone is different. It is not for me to say that I am right and someone else is wrong with regard to something like a detachable magazine.

    That is pretty much my take as well. I saw lots of SKS and AK clones but few AR-15 or clones at that time.

    I recall my father and I discussing the "assault rifle" issue. His point was that he saw no utilitarian purpose for them. He lived through the Depression and there was no attempted overthrow of the governent then. So why would anyone justify owning one of these rifles for "self defense" when a handgun or most any rifle would adequately fulfil the civilian need. My point was mostly about freedom. Why should the government be allowed to control ownership or sales of rifles when the owner was not a felon? People shoot them for fun. Some hunt with these rifles.

    He also looked at it from a cost point of view... how can any normal working person afford to plink away hundreds of center fire rounds on any regular basis? He didn't know about military surplus sources and was comparing the cost to normal center fire ammunition. He felt the same way about shooting away with almost all handguns except 22's. Who could afford it?

    Yes, they do seem to be mainstream now which is probably why you see people using them for criminal pursuits more than in the past.

    Gun legislation politically is one thing, but logistically is an entirely different matter. Like the illegal alien issue, it is physically impossible to enforce a ban or deport 12 million people. So it would be selective enforcement where LE would be influenced by their prejudices.

    I just hope that we don't have to deal with this. No new laws!
  19. benEzra

    benEzra Moderator Emeritus

    Actually, people are *not* using them for criminal pursuits more than in the past. Rifle crime now is AFAIK as low as it has ever been in the history of the United States. In any given year, less than 3% of U.S. homicides involve any kind of rifle ("assault weapon" or not), and rifle crime has decreased significantly since 2004.

    FBI Uniform Crime Reports 2010, Murder, by State and Type of Weapon

    Sum the columns in Excel and compare the total in the "Rifles" column to handguns, shotguns, knives, fists/feet, and blunt objects. Rifles are consistently least misused of *any* class of weapon in this country, bar none.
  20. -v-

    -v- Well-Known Member

    I think this post on vuurwapen blog summed it up nicely: http://vuurwapenblog.com/2012/11/07/sporting-purposes-how-hk-really-does-not-suck-or-hate-you/
    Basically, the gun world of the US at that time said "Yeah, ban AK's, FALs, AR15s and the like. They have no purpose. Now, even hinting that there might not be a reason to own X gun will get you internet lynch-mobbed.

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