Republicans are more than twice as likely as Democrats to live in a household with a gun, according to data released this month from the General Social Survey, conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago and analyzed by The Washington Post. It continues a long-term trend tracked in the biennial survey, in which the percentage of those who identify as Republicans and live in a household with a gun has stayed flat, while the percentage of Democratic and independent gun owners has dropped.
Wonkblog's Chris Ingraham looked at another topline last week: Americans are less likely to live in a household with a gun than at any point in four decades. GSS data is frequently contested, he noted, but other metrics (such as polling from Gallup) reflect that. The Associated Press notes one correlation: The number of Americans who hunt has dropped by half since the late 1970s. At the same time, the number of Americans who live in cities has increased, from 72.7 percent in 1980 to 80.3 percent in 2010.
The urbanization of America doesn't necessarily explain the ownership numbers, but it does fall in line with the increasing alignment of urban voters with Democratic identification, and rural ones with Republicans. We looked at this in October, yielding this chart.
Although the number of homes with a gun has dropped, that doesn't mean that the number of guns has fallen. Even as the former figure has slipped, the number of people getting background checks from the FBI has spiked during the Obama administration. That increase is usually attributed to concerns about new limits on gun ownership.
Add it all up and it means more guns (probably) in fewer, more commonly Republican homes. If that doesn't provide insight into gun politics, it's not clear what will.