A recent survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that around one in five Americans have had a family member killed with a gun, highlighting the far-reaching impact of the country's gun violence epidemic. The survey also found that around a fifth of Americans have been personally threatened with a gun and around one in six have personally witnessed someone being shot. The poll, conducted from March 14 to March 23, surveyed 1,271 adults across the country.
The poll also found that gun violence disproportionately affects people of color, with Black adults around twice as likely as white adults to report having a family member killed with a gun and having witnessed a shooting. Hispanic adults were also more likely than white adults to report witnessing a shooting.
The vast majority of Americans (84%) report taking steps to protect themselves or their families from gun violence, including talking to their children about gun safety, purchasing a gun or another weapon like a knife or pepper spray, and avoiding large crowds or public transport. However, of the four in ten adults who reported living in a house with a gun, three quarters said they did not follow common gun-safety practices like storing the gun unloaded, locked away and apart from ammunition.
The issue of gun violence has been reignited in recent months due to a flurry of mass shootings, including Monday's shooting at a bank in downtown Louisville, Kentucky, which claimed the lives of five people. This year alone, mass shootings have already claimed the lives of more than 200 people in nearly 150 incidents, according to the Gun Violence Archive. The U.S. is an outlier among its peers when it comes to firearm death rates, with rates often tens of times higher than other nations like France, Australia, Japan, and the U.K.
Despite the growing problem of gun violence, political efforts to curb gun deaths have been absent, stagnant or woefully ineffective, and the issue remains intensely partisan. A significant minority of Americans, mostly Republicans, believe mass shootings are simply par for the course of living in a free society.