As part of its annual Crime survey, Gallup asks Americans whether in the past 12 months they personally have been the victim of a number of crimes, including burglary, property theft, assault and vandalism. In most years the survey has also asked Americans whether they personally own a gun, including in 2000, 2005, 2007-2011 and 2013-2016. The analysis is based on a combined 11,165 interviews from those surveys. Overall, an average of 17% of Americans reported being the victim of at least one of the crimes in those polls, and 29% said they personally owned a gun.
Although it is not possible to know from the survey questions whether the crime prompted the individual to buy a gun or if the person owned a gun before the crime occurred, the modest yet significant relationship between recent crime victimization and gun ownership is clear. Also, because the survey asks only about crime victimization in the last 12 months, it is possible many people victimized by crimes in the more distant past bought a gun in reaction to those crimes. Thus, the analysis may understate the relationship between crime victimization and gun ownership.