Half of privately-owned guns belong to 3% of Americans

A new study suggests that while a declining percentage of Americans own guns, more than half of country’s stockpile is in the hands of “super-owners.”

Harvard University researchers studying gun ownership shared their preliminary findings with the Guardian. They said a majority of America’s 55 million gun owners have just one or two guns.

However, around half of all privately-owned guns in the U.S. belong to just 3% of the population. These super-owners have 17 guns each on average, researcher Lois Beckett told NPR. They sometimes inherit guns, collect them, or own several for hunting, he said.

According to findings shared with the Trace, of the estimated 265 million firearms in U.S. homes, a majority are long guns like rifles and shotguns.

Among the gun owners who possess a handgun, two out of three owners said self-defense is a primary motivation for owning a firearm.

Overall, the study found about one person in four owns a gun in the U.S., including a growing percentage of women.