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Is there a gun in your house? New poll reveals how many Utahns own firearms

Heckler and Koch pistols are displayed at Impact Guns in South Salt Lake on July 6. Just over half of Utahns say they have a gun in their home, according to a new poll.

Heckler and Koch pistols are displayed at Impact Guns in South Salt Lake on July 6. Just over half of Utahns say they have a gun in their home, according to a new poll. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)


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SALT LAKE CITY — If you don't own a gun, chances are your neighbor does. Just over half of Utahns say they have a gun in their home.

A new Deseret News/Hinckley Institute of Politics poll of registered Utah voters found 53% have a gun in their home, while 47% do not.

The Rand Corp. published a study in 2020 that estimated the average household firearm ownership rate from 1980 to 2016 using a variety of different measures. The estimate for Utah came in slightly lower than survey results.

Rand's research found 46.8% of Utah adults say they live with at least one gun, ranking the state near the middle among the 50 states and the District of Columbia. At 66.3%, Montana has the highest household gun ownership, while Massachusetts and New Jersey tied with the lowest at 14.7%.

Most firearms in the U.S. go unregistered, making numbers difficult to track. But there are statistics that give a glimpse into gun ownership.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms publishes an annual list of federally registered weapons by state. In 2021, there were 118,408 registered firearms in Utah, again ranking it in the middle among all states. Texas had the most federal licenses at 1,006,555, while Rhode Island had the least at 4,887.

The ATF data only covers certain weapons — short-barreled shotguns, short-barreled rifles and machine guns, along with silencers and other destructive devices — but not pistols and semi-automatic rifles.

The Deseret News/Hinckley Institute survey found a higher percentage of Utahns who identified themselves as Republican or conservative have a gun in their home than those who self-identified as Democrat or liberal.

According to the poll, 58% of Republicans own a gun compared to 46% of Democrats. For respondents who don't affiliate with a political party the number is 49%.

Is there a gun in your house? New poll reveals how many Utahns own firearms
Photo: Deseret News

Also, gun ownership rose with the level of college education from some college to postgraduate studies. But respondents whose education didn't include college had a higher percentage of gun ownership than those who did.

Dan Jones & Associates surveyed 808 Utah registered voters from June 16-29. The poll has an error margin of plus or minus 3.45 percentage points.

Gun sales sharply increased in Utah early in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Criminal background checks required for firearm purchases nearly doubled in the state from 2019 to 2020, topping 180,200, according to the Utah Bureau of Criminal Identification's Firearm Statistical Review. It was the highest in the past decade and appears to be an all-time high.

The number dropped to just under 153,000 in 2021, and is on pace to reach about 136,000 this year. All of those figures exceed the numbers for any single year going back to 2012.

In Utah, it has been legal since May 2021 to carry a concealed firearm without a permit. Though the change in the law did not eliminate the state's concealed firearms permit program, it took away the incentive to obtain the license — and take the requisite firearms safety class, including a suicide prevention module.

Still, Utah has one of the most popular concealed carry permit programs in the country.

As of the end of March 2022, valid Utah concealed firearms permits numbered 719,002, according to BCI, which manages the program. About 60% of them are held by non-Utah residents. A Utah-issued permit is recognized in three dozen states.

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Dennis Romboy
Dennis Romboy is an editor and reporter for the Deseret News. He has covered a variety of beats over the years, including state and local government, social issues and courts. A Utah native, Romboy earned a degree in journalism from the University of Utah. He enjoys cycling, snowboarding and running.

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