In a dramatic flip to the national trend from more than a decade ago, nearly half of gun owners now say they keep firearms in their possession for security purposes, according to findings released by Pew Research Center released on Tuesday.
The survey showed 48 percent of gun owners nationwide citing protection as the reason they own a gun, while 32 percent said they own a firearm for hunting. It’s nearly a complete reversal to Pew’s findings in 1999, when 49 percent of gun owners said they kept firearms for hunting and 26 percent identified protection as the main reason.
Pew found a divide between gun owners and non-gun owners when it comes to the relationship between security and firearms. Fifty-eight percent of non-gun owners said they would be uncomfortable with a firearm in their home with most citing accidents and gun safety as the leading source of their concern.
There is also a split between the two camps on the efficacy of new gun laws. Sixty-six percent respondents who live in households without guns said that enacting tougher laws will reduce deaths in mass shootings, while just 35 percent of gun owners said the same.