Between May 20th and June 6th of 2014, Maple Grove Firearms conducted an open survey about the firearm carry habits of those who live within Minnesota. A total of 104 individuals participated in the survey (~15 were outside of Minnesota, so one wonders if they have multiple homes with one of them being in Minnesota) and nearly all of them (over 90%) completed the survey in its’ entirety. Because of the relatively small population size, we’re not able to make statistically significant inferences from the data, so we’re not claiming that this is a scientific poll. Having said that, the results are interesting and should be evaluated by all parties concerned with carry issues here in Minnesota – including private citizens, pro- and anti-gun groups, police and legislative.
- 89% carry hollow point bullets.
- 44% ignore the no-carry signs
- 65% carry a firearm for self-defense reasons
- 42% carry a second magazine
- 62% have been carrying a firearm 5 years or less
- 29% carry a knife with a 3″ blade or longer
- 55% visit a gun range at least monthly
We started the survey by asking a series of demographic questions. Here is an outline of our 104 respondents:
- 92% of the respondents were between the ages of 21 and 60, with the high concentration (385) between the ages of 31-45.
- 93% of the respondents were male
- 81% of the respondents had annual incomes below $100,000/year.
28% have a high school diploma as their highest level of formal education completed. 32% have an Associates degree and 18% have graduated with a 4-year college degree. We were disappointed that women were under-represented in this survey. Those who read this web site and our Facebook page know how much we encourage women to protect themselves through the lawful carrying of a firearm. Given the number of rapes, assaults and other violent crimes against women each year, it just stands to reason that more women should be protecting themselves. In terms of political affiliation, we found that most permit to carry license holders described themselves with labels generally thought to be more on the conservative part of the political spectrum:
- Republican (28%)
- Independent Conservative (24%)
- Tea Party (5%)
- Libertarian (12%)
The Liberal spectrum didn’t fare as well:
- Democrat (6%)
- Independent Liberal (2%)
- Green Party (0%)
Pro-gun advocates should be concerned about the low numbers in the Democrat and Independent Liberal descriptions. One of the ways that we ensure we preserve our guns rights is to make the pro-gun agenda as bi-partisan as possible. Most of our respondents have joined at least one Association. 37% are NRA members, 14% are Gun Owners of America members and yet, 35% have not joined any association that can help them preserve their rights. From our viewpoint, the very low cost of joining an associate that works in Washington and the state legislatures to help ensure our gun rights are preserved is a no-brainer. Yet, it seems that a sizable number of those who carry firearms don’t connect their rights with the hard work that the NRA and others have done to secure these rights for all Americans.
Based on our survey, 88% who responded carry a firearm in public. This doesn’t mean that they open carry, it just means that they carry a firearm in public – either concealed or open. Surprisingly, 62% have been carrying 5 years or less with only 7% having carried more than 10 years. This would tend to be correlated with the permit numbers published by the State of Minnesota each year. In 2012, we saw ~ 30,000 permits issued. In 2013, we saw that number double to over 60,000. The vast majority of these are new carry permits. When it came to the number and type of firearms that are owned by the respondents in this survey, 6% decided not to complete this question. Of the remaining 94%, this is what our respondents reported:
|Question: How many and what type of firearms do you own?
|Tactical (Assault) Rifle
As you can see from the numbers, a sizable number of respondents own multiple handguns and rifles. We anticipate that the number of those who own tactical rifles will increase if our society continues on its’ current trajectory.
Why carry at all? When asked the question “Why do you carry a firearm in public?”, the most often-cited reasons was (not surprising) “self-defense” (40%). When combined with the more vague “feel safer” (25%), most carry not because they have some arrogant need to be Rambo in life, but simply because they want to feel and be safe from violence against their person. 29% reported that they carry because they want to exercise their 2nd Amendment right. This goes to the notion that a right not exercised is a right forfeited. Part of the reason that Maple Grove Firearms exists is somewhat selfish: we realize that the more people we train and help get their permits, the more difficult it will be for us to lose our rights. In other words, we teach, in part, because we realize that the more who carry, the harder it is for the state legislature to take away our rights.
Frequency: When it comes to frequency of carry in public, 74% carry at least 50% of the time with 37% carrying 91% or more of the time they spend in public. 16% have their permit and yet carry less than 25% of the time they spend in public. I’ve had students tell me that they took the permit class primarily so they could purchase a pistol same-day here in Minnesota, instead of having to wait a longer period of time that comes with having a permit to purchase license.
Caliber size carried: In terms of the caliber size, we messed this question up by not including 9mm as one of the answers. In spite of this, many made it clear they carry 9mm – 38%. 30% carry .40 and 16% carry .45. 16% carry the other calibers that we listed, including .380, .38, .25 and .22.
Obey signs: The question that most surprised us was phrased as follows: “In Minnesota, a business owner or operator can post a sign indicating that you are not allowed to legally carry a pistol in his place of business. Other states may have similar laws. If your state has such a law, do you more often than not comply with those signs or ignore those signs?” A surprising 46% ignore these signs and carry anyways. A bare majority (54%) obey these signs. What this means is that, pragmatically speaking, nearly half of those who have Minnesota Permit to Carry licenses are carrying a firearm in businesses that have expressed their desire to not have firearms within their premises. Here are representative comments from our respondents who ignore the no-carry signs:
- I’d rather pay the $25 misdemeanor fine than be dead.
- It’s a hassle to un-holster, unload and secure my firearm, and since I conceal, I place my bet on not being outed as carrying
- Because if I can ignore them, so can criminals
- Most shootings happen in a gun free area. If they were to ask me to leave I would
- MN law goes beyond a simple sign. I never open carry anyway so the only time they would know is the unfortunate situation that I would have to use it. At which point I would most likely be thanked.
- Because I refuse to be a victim
Many commented on how they don’t patronize businesses that don’t allow firearms. One wonders how often small business owners lose critical sales simply because they believe the myth that the absence of firearms increases the safety of their business environment.
Holster type: When it comes to the holster type, a near majority carry inside the waistband (43%) where as 32% carry outside the waistband. The other 25% use over-the-shoulder, pocket and other holster types.
Secondary magazine: Another (somewhat) surprising result was that 42% of those who carry do so with a second magazine. One wonders if they often practice changing magazines swiftly. I’ve seen videos on how to do this and have taken training on this too, but I can’t say I practice this often primarily because I feel that by the time I’ve emptied my magazine, I’m either dead, the other person is dead or the police have arrived.
Practice routine: 55% visit a gun range at least monthly presumably to practice their shooting capabilities. Visiting a gun range on a regular basis is foundational to keeping up your gun shooting skills. Shooting accuracy is a diminishing skill, so regular practice is a must if you’re going to be proficient in the heat of the moment.
People who carry a firearm in public do so mainly for self-defense reasons. Given the increase in violence in our society, this is fully understandable. Most want and do obey the law, yet there is an underlying pragmatism that moderates blind obedience to what some believe are poorly written laws. Many carry knives with their guns and often carry a second magazine of ammunition. People who carry tend to not be rich or members of the elite in our society. Most are hard-working, average Americans who simply want to be left alone and protect their person and family should violence ever erupt.
We believe this group is mis-understood by the media elite and those in legislatures who have little experience with firearms or the people who carry them. We suppose this is not totally unexpected: when one’s personal security is provided without cost via the Secret Service or other police or police-type agencies simply because of one’s elected office, one swiftly becomes disconnected and out-of-touch with the realities of living at the grassroots. The arrogance of those who get their security provided to them free-of-charge while denying their constituents their own security is astounding and yet is somehow thought to be an “enlightened” position. It is our belief that if our 2nd Amendment rights were ever to be taken away, many would engage in quiet civil disobedience and carry anyways. It’s simply unnatural to deny individuals their right to defend themselves.