In my 37 years I have spent about 27 of them in the US - in over 40 states inclusive of the far flung such as Hawaii and Alaska. I have lived in at least 5 of the states. Yet, this massive gun culture spoken of eludes me. I have only seen guns a handful of times.
Aside from Law Enforcement, Security and Military, I have seen a few people with guns in their own homes. A good example of this was my father who owned a few - I think one pistol, one rifle and one shotgun. I think I have only seen them used once as a child in North West US (where guns are far more tolerated).
Though some estimates put the number of guns in America as over 300 million - or that of our population. From a subjective experience they are not being carried around in public or flaunted in any way shape or form. Numbers however reveal that ownership by home is only at roughly 30% of American homes. Numbers also reveal this is mostly in rural areas.
Considering most people I have met with guns, tend to own plural, I would estimate that there are not 300 million people owning guns, but a small segment in mostly rural areas who own many guns. By age alone, you can assess that 20% of the country likely does not own a gun, because they are too young or too old. There is no reason to believe that that that 20% is not represented equally across gun owning and non-gun owning households.
Thus 20% of the 30% of gun owning households, are too young/old to even own guns - leaving say 26% of people with ownership. Without running numbers of those not able to own guns - those under state control (mental facilities, prison, etc) we can further whittle this number down even more. I would speculate that would cover at least another 6% of the population. Ergo we are looking at no more than 25% of the population, clustered in rural areas and being multi-gun owners.
Additionally, in my experience most gun-savvy gun-loving owners in rural areas are extremely gun-wise. It seems these people are not likely to be conducting crimes with guns. So we are not looking at a massive gun culture menacing from sea to shining sea. We are looking at most guns being owned by a niche group of people, while most crimes committed by another niche group of people.
Criminal statistics aside, the niche-ness of ownership highlight how the purported gun culture is a myth. You can easily live your entire life in America never seeing a gun in person unless you see a law enforcement officer. Those in America projecting this notion of a gun culture not only skew the domestic debate with scare tactics but they are damage our image abroad as gun toting fanatics.