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National Firearm Survey, 2004 (ICPSR 29681)

Principal Investigator(s): Miller, Matthew, Harvard University. Harvard School of Public Health


This nationally representative, anonymous, household telephone survey was conducted to explore the distribution of privately owned firearms in the United States, as well as firearm acquisition, disposal, and storage in households with guns. The study updates an earlier (1994) study by Cook and Ludwig that examined household firearm ownership in the United States (Cook P.J., Ludwig J. Guns in America: Results of a comprehensive national survey of firearms ownership and use. Washington DC: Police Foundation 1997.) Other domains of the survey included (1) past year firearm use both by respondents with firearms in their households and those without (e.g., "In the past 12 months, have you handled any gun"); (2) guns and youth (e.g., "In the last 12 months, have you ever asked another parent whether their home contains guns?"); (3) awareness of and opinions regarding state and federal firearm laws (e.g., "To the best of your knowledge, does your state have a law that holds adults liable for misuse of their guns by children or minors"; "Do you favor or oppose the sale of military style firearms?"); (4) depression and suicide (e.g., "If the Golden Gate Bridge had a barrier to prevent suicide, about how many of the 1,000 jumpers (who have committed suicide by jumping off the bridge since 1937) do you think would have found some other way to kill themselves?") and (5) aggressive driving (e.g., "In the past 12 months, have you made obscene or rude gestures at another motorist"). The survey also included extensive demographic information about the respondent and his or her family. The demographic information that was collected includes respondents' sex, age, race, education level, household income, criminal arrest history, armed forces membership status, type of residential area (e.g., urban or rural), and political philosophy.

Access Notes

  • Data in this collection are available only to users at ICPSR member institutions. Please log in so we can determine if you are with a member institution and have access to these data files.


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Study Description


Miller, Matthew. National Firearm Survey, 2004. ICPSR29681-v1. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2011-05-27. https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR29681.v1

Persistent URL: https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR29681.v1

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This study was funded by:

  • Joyce Foundation (Award #26765)

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:    attitudes, fear of crime, firearms, gun ownership, gun use, handguns, personal secruity, public opinion, public safety, reactions to crime, self defense, weapons offenses

Smallest Geographic Unit:    state

Time Period:   

  • 2004

Date of Collection:   

  • 2004-03-17--2004-06-28

Unit of Observation:    individual; household

Universe:    Adults (18 years of age and older) living in the United States in households with at least one working telephone.

Data Type(s):    survey data


Sample:    The sample was a random sample of all U.S. adults living in households with telephones (including new and unlisted numbers, but excluding cell phones). For a full description of sampling methods, see: Johnson, R.M., M. Miller, M. Vriniotis, D. Azrael, D. Hemenway. "Are Household Firearms Stored Less Safely in Homes With Adolescents?" Analysis of a National Random Sample of Parents, Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine 160, 8 (August 2006), 788-792.

Weight:    For individual level estimates, the sample can be weighted by the number of household adults. For household level estimates, the sample can be weighted by the number of working telephones in the household.

Mode of Data Collection:    computer-assisted telephone interview (CATI)

Response Rates:    Of the 31,302 telephone numbers called for the study, 91.1 percent did not result in an interview. Of these, 41.4 percent were ineligible numbers (e.g., non-residential, line out of service, quota reached for state). For an additional 39.2 percent, an interview did not take place after the maximum number of calls (10) had been made for one of the following reasons: only an answering machine picked up, he line was always busy, the line was never answered or the potential respondent was never available. Only 19 percent of the numbers called that did not result in an interview were refusals.

Extent of Processing:   ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:

  • Performed consistency checks.
  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.


Original ICPSR Release:   2011-05-27

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