Hunting near Le Sueur, Minnesota. Photo by m01229/Flickr and used under the CC BY 2.0 license

Rural residents are more likely to own multiple firearms and to cite hunting as a reason for owning weapons, a new study says.

Rural residents were also more than twice as likely to state that gun ownership is a matter of personal freedom, according to a new report.

The Pew Research Center found that guns are in 58% of rural homes and that 75% of gun-owning households have more than one gun. By comparison, only 29% of urban and 41% of suburban households own guns, with only 48% of this demographic group owning more than one gun.

The Pew gun ownership survey also found other differences between rural and metropolitan residents in their views on and use of firearms.

  • 48% of rural gun owners are hunters compared with 27% of metropolitan gun owners
  • 47% of rural gun owners obtained their first gun before their eighteenth birthday compared with only 27% of metropolitan gun owners
  • 82% of rural gun owners report that owning guns is “essential to their personal freedom” compared with 59% of urban gun owners
  • 21% of urban gun owners believe that there would be more crime if more people owned guns; only 9% of rural gun owners share that belief.

Pew’s gun ownership data is based on landline phone data surveys collected during March and April of 2017. 3930 were reached to for the survey.

Within the differences, the poll found a couple of similarities between rural and urban gun owners. Both groups cited personal safety as their number one reason for owning a weapon. And just over half of each group said they have a loaded gun is in close proximity and easily accessible to them while at home.

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