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One In Five Americans Have Been Personally Threatened With A Gun

Experiences with gun-related incidents are common among U.S. adults. One in five (21%) say they have personally been threatened with a gun, a similar share (19%) say a family member was killed by a gun (including suicides), and nearly as many (17%) have personally witnessed someone being shot. Smaller shares have personally shot a gun in self-defense (4%) or been injured in a shooting (4%). In total, about half (54%) of all U.S. adults say they or a family member have ever had one of these experiences, reports KFF. Gun-related injuries and deaths, as well as worries about gun violence, disproportionately affect people of color. Three in ten Black adults (31%) have personally witnessed someone being shot, as have one-fifth of Hispanic adults (22%). One-third of Black adults (34%) have a family member who was killed by a gun, twice the share of White adults who say the same (17%). In addition, one-third of Black adults (32%) and Hispanic adults (33%) say they worry either “every day,” or “almost every day” about themselves or someone they love being a victim of gun violence (compared to one in ten White adults).


One in five Black adults (20%) and Hispanic adults (18%) believe gun-related crimes, deaths, and injuries are a “constant threat” to their local community, more than double the share among White adults (8%). The majority (84%) of adults say they have taken at least one precaution to protect themselves or their families from the possibility of gun violence, including nearly six in ten (58%) who have talked to their children or other family members about gun safety, and more than four in ten who have purchased a weapon other than a gun, such as a knife or pepper spray (44%), or attended a gun safety class or practiced shooting a gun (41%). About a third (35%) have avoided large crowds, such as music festivals, or crowded bars and clubs to protect themselves or their families from the possibility of gun violence. Three in ten (29%) have purchased a gun to protect themselves or their family from the possibility of gun violence. Smaller shares, but still at least one in seven, have avoided using public transit (23%), changed or considered changing the school that their child attends (20%), avoided attending religious services, cultural events or celebrations (15%), or moved to a different neighborhood or city (15%).

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A daily report co-sponsored by Arizona State University, Criminal Justice Journalists, and the National Criminal Justice Association

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