This figure marks the highest rate of gun ownership since the news outlet began tracking this data in 1999.
The poll indicates a significant rise in gun ownership over the past decade. In 2019, an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll reported that 46% of Americans either owned a gun or lived in a household with a gun owner. This figure was slightly higher than the 42% reported in 2013.
Micah Roberts, a pollster with Public Opinion Strategies, expressed surprise at the rapid increase in gun ownership. "In the last ten years, we've grown [10 points] in gun ownership. That's a very stunning number," Roberts told NBC News. He added, "By and large, things don't change that dramatically that quickly when it comes to something as fundamental as whether you own a gun."
The poll also revealed a partisan divide in gun ownership. Approximately 66% of Republicans, 45% of independents, and 41% of Democrats reported owning a gun or living in a household with a gun owner. These figures have all increased since 2004, when an NBC poll found that 57% of Republicans, 41% of independents, and 33% of Democrats reported gun ownership in their households.
Interestingly, the survey showed a near doubling of gun ownership among black voters, from 24% in August 2019 to 41% now. White voters also saw an increase in gun ownership, albeit a smaller one, from 53% to 56% over the same period.
On the issue of gun control, the poll participants were almost evenly divided. About 48% expressed concern that the government was not regulating access to firearms enough, while 47% worried that authorities might impose excessive gun restrictions. This divide has remained consistent over the past decade.
In response to the ongoing debate on gun control, President Biden established the White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention in September. Vice President Kamala Harris heads this office, which is tasked with advancing the administration's gun control priorities. These include banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, initiating universal background checks for firearm sales, enhancing red flag laws, and eliminating legal immunity for gun manufacturers.
Last year, following a mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, that claimed the lives of 21 schoolchildren, President Biden signed the bipartisan Safer Communities Act into law. This law mandates background checks for gun purchasers under 21 years old and provides funding for violence prevention and school-based mental health programs.
The NBC survey was conducted from November 10 to 14 by Public Opinion Strategies, a Republican polling firm, and Hart Research, a Democratic polling firm. The poll included 1,000 registered voters as respondents, with a margin of error of plus-or-minus 3.1 percentage points.