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Survey: Half Of All U.S. Guns Owned By Just 3% Of Americans

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- When it comes to gun ownership, it is the era of the super-owner in America.

While there may be fewer avowed gun owners in recent years, there are more guns in fewer hands now. These so-called super-owners are the roughly 7.7. million Americans who own between 8 and 140 guns.

That is just one of the key findings from researchers at Harvard and Northeastern universities released in advance to The Guardian and The Trace.

The researchers estimate there are 265 million firearms in private hands. In an online survey, they asked some 4000 Americans what types of guns were in their homes, how they were stored and why they have them.

Most of the respondents said their guns were for protection, not for hunting or sport.

The study found that super-owners are comprised mainly of collectors, firearms instructors, gunsmiths, competitive shooters, as well as doomsday survivalists.

Guns, weapons are for sale at the Gun Gallery
Weapons for sale. (GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)

In terms of overall demographics, the researchers say gun owners are for the most part white, male, conservative and live in rural areas.

While a quarter of white and multi-racial Americans said they own a gun, only 16 percent of Hispanics and 14 percent of African Americans made the same claim.

More than a third of the gun owners in the survey grew up with guns in the home. About a quarter reported having some college education.

Among the gun owners surveyed, the preferred weapon is the handgun.

Complete results of the survey will be released in 2017. The Harvard/Northeastern survey is the first since 1994 when the National Institute of Justice conducted a telephone survey on the private stock of firearms in the U.S.

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