Sep 1, 2022 - Politics & Policy

1 in 5 Americans have experience with gun violence: Poll

A person adjusts flowers ahead of the opening of the Gun Violence Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, DC, on June 7, 2022. Photo: MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

About a fifth of U.S. adults say they or someone close to them has had an experience with gun violence in the past five years, a new poll found.

The big picture: There are significant racial and ethnic disparities in experiences with gun violence, per the poll done by the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

  • Black Americans are four times more likely, and Hispanic Americans are twice as likely, as white Americans to report such an experience.

By the numbers: Three-fourths of Americans view gun violence as a major problem, and 8 in 10 say gun violence is on the rise in the U.S., according to the poll.

  • Fewer believe it's increasing in their state (66%) or local community (39%).
  • Those living in urban areas (51%) are more likely to believe that gun violence is on the rise in their communities than those living in suburbs (39%) and rural communities (27%).

1 big thing: Many Americans want to both prevent gun violence and protect gun rights.

  • 52% say it is both very important to prevent mass shootings and very important to ensure people are able to own guns for personal protection.

Yes, but: There is broad public support for a variety of gun control policies, and 71% of Americans say gun laws should be stricter.

What they're saying: "The poll highlights that gun violence has touched the lives of many Americans, especially Black and Hispanic Americans, and there is significant public concern about this," Jens Ludwig, director of the University of Chicago's Crime Lab, said in a statement.

  • "Despite the polarizing climate surrounding these issues, the poll also reveals strong public support for policies to prevent gun violence, which may help to foster increased consensus among policymakers to further act," he added.

Of note: The poll was conducted between July 28 and Aug. 1, following a series of deadly mass shootings, including at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York, and a July 4 parade in Illinois.

Methodology: The poll has a margin of error of +/- 3.8 percentage points at the 95% confidence level among all adults.

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