There were 16 million adults in the U.S. who carried a handgun in the past month compared to 9 million in 2015.
“Between increases in the number of people who own handguns and the number of people who carry every day, there has been a striking increase in handgun carrying in the U.S.," said lead study author Dr. Ali Rowhani-Rahbar – a professor of epidemiology at the University of Washington.
The study utilized data from the 2019 National Firearms Survey, which included nearly 2,400 U.S. handgun owners.
The study found that gun owners have shifted the main reason for having a gun from hunting to personal protection.
In 1994, there were 46% of gun owners who used firearms for protection. The number of firearm owners who wanted a gun for protection soared to 65% by 2015 and 73% by 2019.
"Of handgun owners who carried, 4 in 5 carried primarily for protection, 4 in 5 had a concealed carry permit, 2 in 3 always carried concealed, and 1 in 10 always carried openly," the American Journal of Public Health stated. "The prevalence of handgun carrying was similar in states with permitless carry laws and states with shall issue carry laws. By contrast, the prevalence of carrying was notably lower in states with may issue carry laws."
"As personal protection became the predominant motivation for owning firearms, handgun ownership increased disproportionately from 64% in 1994 to 83% in 2021," the study stated.
The study cited the U.S. Supreme Court 6-3 ruling in June that struck down a New York state gun control law that required firearm owners requesting a concealed carry license to demonstrate "proper cause."
"On June 23, 2022, the Supreme Court ruled that New York’s proper-cause requirement violates the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection under the law by preventing law-abiding citizens with ordinary self-defense needs from exercising their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms in public for self-defense," the study read.
"This ruling could further catalyze the loosening of firearm-carrying regulations in different parts of the country at a time when, as our study indicates, trends in handgun carrying already point to more U.S. adults carrying loaded handguns in public places, including without a permit when a permit is required," the study speculated.
Rowhani-Rahbar said, "The Supreme Court ruling has already resulted in some states’ loosening of laws related to handgun carrying. In light of that ruling, our study reinforces the importance of studying the implications of handgun carrying for public health and public safety."
As of Jan. 1, 2023, Alabama will become the 22nd state that will not require a permit or background check to carry a concealed weapon.