A rationale for investigating subcultures of firearms ownership is developed. Two gun-owning populations are investigated by using survey data for the State of Illinois, those who own guns for sport and those who own guns for protection. Models of individual level gun ownership for sport and for protection are constructed and tested. Sporting gun ownership appears to be subcultural. Sporting gun ownership can be predicted by using family socialization variables and indicators of contact among members of the subculture, independent of situational variables. Protective ownership has none of the trappings of a subculture. It does not respond to family socialization and indicators of contact with other people who own guns for protection. Further, there is no indication of a subculture of violence among protective gun owners. Violent attitudes and behavior do not predict protective gun ownership. In fact, a situational variable (county violent crime) was the only predictor of gun ownership for protection. Further, gun ownership for protection and gun ownership for sport were found to be independent events, with no joint probability of occurrence. This suggests that the impetus for a subculture of protective ownership could not be a logical extension of a subculture of firearms ownership for sport.