Study finds three percent of all Americans own half of all guns

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There are an estimated 265 million privately owned guns in America — and apparently, half of those guns are owned by just 3 percent of America's adult citizens.

The Guardian and The Trace obtained the unpublished results of a survey on gun ownership from Harvard and Northeastern universities.

SEE MORE: How Many Guns Slip Through Background Check Loopholes?

The Census Bureau estimates there are about 247 million adults in the U.S -- which means according to the survey's results, 7.7 million Americans own an average of about 17 guns each.

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NRA convention 2015
A convention goers aims a Tavor SAR IDF model semi-automatic weapon at the 2015 NRA Annual Convention in Nashville, Tennessee on April 11, 2015. This is the civilian version of the Tavor Tar-21, issued to Israeli Defense Forces. AFP PHOTO / KAREN BLEIER (Photo credit should read KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)
An exhibitor holds up a Bond Arms Ranger II derringer at the 2015 NRA Annual Convention in Nashville, Tennessee on April 11, 2015. AFP PHOTO / KAREN BLEIER (Photo credit should read KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)
Wayne LaPierre, left, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, speaks during the annual meeting of members at the NRA convention Saturday, April 11, 2015, in Nashville, Tenn. At right is Jim Porter, NRA president. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
Pat Kirchner, of Kankakee, Ill., looks through a pair of binoculars at the National Rifle Association's annual convention in Friday, April 25, 2014 in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)
Jerry Miller, of Georgetown, Texas, looks over a rifle at the National Rifle Association's annual convention in Friday, April 25, 2014 in Indianapolis. Several potential Republican contenders for president will court gun-rights supporters at the NRA's annual convention Friday. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)
Attendees look over a pistol display at the National Rifle Association's annual convention in Friday, April 25, 2014 in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)
A convention goer looks at rifle scopes at the 2015 NRA Annual Convention in Nashville, Tennessee on April 11, 2015. This is the civilian version of the Tavor Tar-21, issued to Israeli Defense Forces. AFP PHOTO / KAREN BLEIER (Photo credit should read KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)
An exhibitor holds up an Armscor/Rock Island Armory titanium 1911 series prototype handgun at the 2015 NRA Annual Convention in Nashville, Tennessee on April 11, 2015. AFP PHOTO / KAREN BLEIER (Photo credit should read KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)
An exhibitor holds up a Bond Arms Ranger II derringer at the 2015 NRA Annual Convention in Nashville, Tennessee on April 11, 2015. AFP PHOTO / KAREN BLEIER (Photo credit should read KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)
A convention goer checks out a rifle scope April 11, 2015 at the 2015 NRA Annual Convention in Nashville, Tennessee. AFP PHOTO / KAREN BLEIER (Photo credit should read KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)
A girl looks at Sig Sauer P320 handguns April 11, 2015 at the 2015 NRA Annual Convention in Nashville, Tennessee. AFP PHOTO / KAREN BLEIER (Photo credit should read KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)
Convention goers look at old west handguns at the A. Uberti booth April 11, 2015 at the 2015 NRA Annual Convention in Nashville, Tennessee. Uberti firearms are exacting replicas, down to the finest detail. Many are improvements over the originals, with the advancement of materials and the use of modern machinery. Today, A. Uberti produces black powder revolvers, cartridge revolvers and cartridge rifles. The firearms set the standard by which Cowboy Action Shooting competitors and big game hunters judge other vintage firearms. AFP PHOTO / KAREN BLEIER (Photo credit should read KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)
A woman aims a shotgun April 11, 2015 at the 2015 NRA Annual Convention in Nashville, Tennessee. AFP PHOTO / KAREN BLEIER (Photo credit should read KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)
A boy under his parents' supervision, aims a shotgun April 11, 2015 at the 2015 NRA Annual Convention in Nashville, Tennessee. AFP PHOTO / KAREN BLEIER (Photo credit should read KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)
Convention goers on the floor April 11, 2015 at the 2015 NRA Annual Convention in Nashville, Tennessee.AFP PHOTO / KAREN BLEIER (Photo credit should read KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)
Convention goers look at weapons April 11, 2015 at the 2015 NRA Annual Convention in Nashville, Tennessee. AFP PHOTO / KAREN BLEIER (Photo credit should read KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)
An exhibitor holds up a Bond Arms Ranger II derringer at the 2015 NRA Annual Convention in Nashville, Tennessee on April 11, 2015. AFP PHOTO / KAREN BLEIER (Photo credit should read KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)
Convention goers look at old west handguns at the A. Uberti booth April 11, 2015 at the 2015 NRA Annual Convention in Nashville, Tennessee. Uberti firearms are exacting replicas, down to the finest detail. Many are improvements over the originals, with the advancement of materials and the use of modern machinery. Today, A. Uberti produces black powder revolvers, cartridge revolvers and cartridge rifles. The firearms set the standard by which Cowboy Action Shooting competitors and big game hunters judge other vintage firearms. AFP PHOTO / KAREN BLEIER (Photo credit should read KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)
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Dr. Deborah Azrael, a Harvard School of Public Health firearms researcher and the lead author of the study, told The Guardian she was more interested in the Americans with just one or two guns than the Americans with lots of guns. "To change their behavior with respect to guns, and the ways in which they store them, or their decision-making — we could have a really big impact on suicide," Azrael said.

Estimating the number of civilian guns in America is hard because no one keeps track of the number of guns sold nationwide. So researchers have to rely on estimates from surveys and polls.

But even though the number of privately owned guns increased by 38 percent from 1994 to 2015, gun violence has gone down in recent years.

SEE MORE: Is The Gun Background Check System Flawed? We Take A Look

Experts are calling this new study important because of its scope and its questions. Almost 4,000 Americans responded to this survey, and this might be one of the first to not just ask if respondents own a gun, but how many guns they own.

The still-unpublished survey does not make any connections between gun ownership and public health concerns. It's going through the peer review process, and the final results won't be published until sometime next year.

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