As gun-related death rates continue rising each year in the U.S., a Pew Research study found that while views about gun ownership and gun policy remain starkly divided along party lines, Americans across the political spectrum increasingly see gun violence and violent crime as issues of national concern. Democrats and Republicans agree on little when it comes to gun ownership and gun policies, according to the report released Wednesday, Politico reports. Seventy-nine percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents said they believe that gun ownership increases safety; nearly the same percentage of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents said the opposite. Only one policy proposal, restrictions on gun purchases for people with mental illnesses, received bipartisan support. Despite these differences, 60 percent of Americans surveyed said they believe gun violence is a ‘very big’ national issue, up seven percentage points from 2018. Americans in both parties are also increasingly concerned about violent crime; 59 percent of Americans see violent crime as a ‘very big’ national issue, up seven percentage points from 2018.
Over 60 percent of Americans believe that gun violence will increase in the next five years; just seven percent believe it will decrease during that time period. Concerns among Democrats and Republicans about crime have increased similarly. Fifty-two percent of Democrats and 64 percent of Republicans view crime as a ‘very big’ national issue, up eight and 12 percentage points from 2021 respectively. Meanwhile, concerns about gun violence are up 11 points among both Republicans and Democrats. That said, an over 40-point gap still exists between the two parties’ voters on the issue; 81 percent of Democrats view gun violence as a ‘very big’ issue as opposed to just 38 percent of Republicans. The Pew data comes as violent crime remains a critical talking point for Republicans on the campaign trail, and as the number of mass shootings and gun-related homicides and suicides continues to increase. FBI data from 2021 noted that 61 mass shootings occurred that year, and that gun-related homicides and suicides that year were responsible for the deaths of 48,830 Americans.