News Release

One in Five Adults Say They’ve Had a Family Member Killed by a Gun, Including Suicide, and One in Six Have Witnessed a Shooting; Among Black Adults, a Third Have Experienced Each

Three in Four Adults in Households with Guns Say at Least One Gun in Their Home is Either Unlocked, Loaded, or Kept with Ammunition

Experiences with gun-related incidents are common across the country, with about one in five adults saying that they have personally been threatened with a gun (21%) or had a family member killed by a gun, including by suicide (19%), finds a new KFF survey about Americans’ experiences with gun-related violence and incidents. One in six (17%) say they personally witnessed someone being shot.

Smaller shares say that they have shot a gun in self-defense (4%) or personally been injured by one (4%). In all, slightly more than half (54%) of all adults say they have a connection to at least one of these gun-related incidents.  

Black adults (34%) are about twice as likely as White (17%) or Hispanic (18%) adults to say that they have a family member who was killed by a gun.  They are also about twice as likely as White adults to say they witnessed someone being shot (31% v. 14%), with Hispanic adults in between (22%).

Among the public overall, the vast majority say they worry at least “sometimes” that they or someone in their family will become a victim of gun violence. This includes small but important shares who say they worry about it “every day” (8%) or “almost every day” (10%).

About a third of both Hispanic (33%) and Black (32%) adults say they worry daily or almost daily that a family member will become a victim of gun violence, three times the share of White adults (10%). 

Parents of children under age 18 are more likely than other adults to say they worry daily or almost daily (24% v. 15%).

While most adults overall say they feel either “very” (41%) or “somewhat” (41%) safe from gun violence in their neighborhoods, significant shares say they feel “not too safe” (13%) or not safe at all (5%). One in six Black adults (17%) don’t feel at all safe in their neighborhoods, far greater than the share of White (2%) or Hispanic (9%) adults. 

About four in 10 adults (41%), and a similar share of parents with children at home (44%), say that they live in a household with guns. 

Among all adults with guns in their homes, three in four (75%) say that the guns are stored in ways that don’t reflect some common gun-safety practices.

Specifically, about half (52%) say that a gun in their home is stored in the same location as ammunition; more than four in 10 (44%) say that a gun is kept in an unlocked location; and more than third (36%) say that a gun is stored loaded.

Among parents in gun-owning households, about a third (32%) store a gun in an unlocked location, and the same share (32%) say a gun is stored loaded. Most (61%) store a gun in the same location as ammunition.

Small Shares Say Their Doctor or Child’s Pediatrician Talked to Them About Guns or Gun Safety

Amid a push for health professionals to treat gun safety as a public health issue, one in seven (14%) adults say that a health care provider has ever asked them if there were guns in their home, and 5% say that they talked about gun safety.

Among parents, a quarter (26%) say a pediatrician has ever asked them about guns in the home, and 8% say they talked about gun safety.

Designed and analyzed by public opinion researchers at KFF, the survey was conducted from March 14-23, 2023, online and by telephone among a nationally representative sample of 1,271 U.S. adults, in English and in Spanish. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points for the full sample. For results based on other subgroups, the margin of sampling error may be higher.

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The independent source for health policy research, polling, and news, KFF is a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco, California.