According to a new survey, a disturbing 4 in 10 Americans think it’s at least “somewhat likely” they will be victimized by gun violence in the next five years.

Conducted jointly by the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy, the Associated Press, and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, this recent study received responses from nearly 1,400 citizens on a number of questions regarding gun violence, firearm regulation, and other related issues.

In addition to the broad concern expressed by those surveyed, there were some key demographic takeaways.

  • Younger Americans are generally on higher alert versus their older counterparts. Fourteen percent of respondents under 34 stated that it’s likely they’ll be the victim of a shooting compared to those 50 or older who expressed the same at a mere 6% in each respective age group.
  • Black and Hispanic citizens are more than twice as likely as White citizens to know someone who has experienced gun violence or been a victim themselves.

But demographics aside, there is consensus on the seriousness of our situation.

  • A whopping 3 in 4 Americans say gun violence is a major problem, with 8 in 10 saying it’s getting worse.
  • Aligning with these numbers, 71% of those surveyed want gun reform, including stricter regulations on who is permitted to buy firearms, with purchase restrictions for citizens with mental issues, a history of abuse, and so on. However, while many surveyed acknowledged the need for incident prevention, just over half said it’s also important to ensure gun ownership for self-defense.

Most Americans want to prevent gun violence while protecting gun rights. Just over half say it is both very important to prevent mass shootings and very important to guarantee gun ownership for personal protection. There is broad public support for a variety of gun control policies. 71% of Americans say gun laws should be stricter, but there are differences in where to focus enforcement efforts. Majorities favor policies to restrict who can buy guns as well as policies banning certain guns, but the most popular regulations are those that limit who can purchase guns. For example, 85% support a federal law preventing mentally ill people from purchasing guns, compared to 59% who support a nationwide ban on semi-automatic weapons.

Yet despite the majority opinion that action is needed, and gun violence could affect them personally, one alarming response suggests many Americans may remain unprepared.

  • While a full 80% say gun violence is a problem that’s getting worse, just 66% believe it to be increasing in their state, and only 39% believe it’s increasing in their local area.

This response aligns with common beliefs around active assailant threats and a widespread challenge to preparedness training: most people think “it won’t happen to them”; and many people affected by gun violence say afterwards that they are “surprised it happened here.” This points to a dangerous blind spot that we must all work to repair.

In the office, at school, during a neighborhood event, or at your place of worship, gun violence can happen anywhere—in any community. Though it may be an inconvenient truth, our reality demands that Americans prepare themselves how to respond if faced with gun violence.

The Power of Preparedness (TPOP) provides company-wide online training for recognizing behavioral indicators, situational awareness, de-escalation techniques, and active shooter preparedness and response using Run-Hide-Fight. TPOP’s industry-specific training ensures that individuals in any environment are armed with the knowledge, confidence, and “muscle memory” to take the right action at the right time to save lives. Contact us to learn more.