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First-Time Gun Buyers The Exception

000705_stewart gun lover James McCoskey
CBS
When it comes to guns in America, in theory there are enough for every adult to own at least one.

But, as CBS News Correspondent Jim Stewart reports, they don't, because as it turns out, most guns are actually owned by just a small group of Americans, including men like James McCoskey.

McCoskey owns close to 100 firearms, but don’t call him a collector. "I'm not really a collector. I guess you'd say I'm an accumulator and a user of guns."

And like many people who own multiple guns, he carries his passion to the voting booth.

"I tell ya, you can criticize people for maybe having a tendency to be single issue oriented. But this is one of those single issues," said McCoskey.

Poll after poll has shown that a majority of Americans favor tougher gun laws, and yet little has happened. One reason for that, researchers believe, is because for the shrinking number of Americans who do own guns, this is not just a big issue, it's the only issue.

In fact, a recent study found the number of gun owners in America has never been more concentrated than it is now among a small number of white, middle-class rural men.

"We find that about 10 percent of the adults in the United States own about 80 percent of all the guns,” said professor Jens Ludwig of Georgetown University, who conducted the study. That translates into about 150 million guns.

And gun dealers like Don Davis confirm it. According to him, new buyers are the exception. "I would say 60 to 70 to 80 percent of the guns we'll sell today are to people who have other guns. We know customers that's got a thousand guns."

And what they spend on their guns, they also gladly spend on the politicians who share their view on the subject.

"I think that money would be there. I think people who probably never donated a nickel to a political campaign in their life would dig in there and lay it out. I really do," said McCoskey.

And the figures show they really have. Since Columbine, gun makers and gun lobbyists have poured more than $1 million into this fall's elections.