How many guns are in America? A web of state secrecy means no one knows

by Jessica Glenza, The Guardian, 10/17/15

A majority of states actively restrict access to information on gun permits, the FBI must destroy background checks and Congress bans funding for research

The American Public Health Association will join the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence in a national summit in Washington DC to tackle gun violence. They describe the issue as “one of the biggest public health issues facing America”.

But you wouldn’t know it from looking at the state of gun research.

Ask one of the dozen or so active firearms researchers in the United States, and they won’t be able to answer the fundamental question: how many guns are in America?

In addition to a 1996 ban on federal funding for firearms research that is cited as one of the most onerous obstacles to treating gun violence as a public health issue, states have passed dozens of laws in just the past five years that make once-public data on gun ownership confidential.

The best available data comes from a private survey by the University of Chicago, not the federal government, and that is still an estimate, finding that 79 million US households have guns. Other surveys have estimated there are between 270 and 310m guns.

“There are lots of holes in actually having any data on the number of guns in our communities,” said Fred Rivara, head of pediatrics at the Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center and Seattle Children’s Hospital…

read more at The Guardian

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