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Number of Americans carrying guns every day doubled from 2015 to 2019, according to UW study

NRA Convention handgun
Mark Humphrey
FILE - In this May 21, 2016, file photo, Donald Carder wears his handgun in a holster as he pushes his son, Waylon, in a stroller at the National Rifle Association convention in Louisville, Ky. Attendees at the convention were permitted to carry firearms under Kentucky's open carry law.

A new study from the University of Washington finds the number of Americans carrying a handgun on their person every day doubled in the years before the pandemic.

The study, which was recently published in the American Journal of Public Health, surveyed handgun owners between 2015 and 2019.

Handgun ownership in the U.S. rose by more than 40% in that time – and the study found the number of people who carried a gun every day jumped to about six million.

Dr. Ali Rowhani-Rahbar, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Washington, led the study with researchers from Harvard.

"Historically, back in the 1980s and 1990s, handgun owners typically would cite things like recreation or other sports as main reasons for owning a handgun or carrying a handgun. That has changed in the past decade or so," Rowhani-Rahbar said.

"We know that individuals think that generally society is becoming less safe…And that general perception of decreasing safety has probably led to more individuals owning firearms and also carrying it for protection."

The study found the majority of people buying and carrying handguns were white men between the ages of 18 and 44.

Scott Greenstone started off working at his community college newspaper before interning at NPR’s Weekend All Things Considered and covering homelessness for The Seattle Times. He co-produced the “Outsiders” podcast with KNKX, which was named one of TIME’s top 10 podcasts of 2020.
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