1 in 5 American Adults Say They Have Relative Killed by a Gun

Cara Murez

Cara Murez

Published on April 11, 2023

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Key Takeaways

A significant number of U.S. adults have lost a relative to gun violence, and almost as many have witnessed a shooting

The numbers are higher for Black adults, and many survey respondents report living in fear of guns

Careless gun-safety practices are common, even among parents, the survey found

TUESDAY, April 11, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- Nearly 20% of the American population has had a family member killed by a gun, including by suicide, and 1 in 6 has witnessed a shooting, a new survey found.

The survey -- by nonprofit KFF -- also found about 4% have shot a gun in self-defense and 4% have been injured by a gun.

For Black adults, the numbers were even higher, attesting to greater gun violence in minority communities.

About one-third of Black adults had a family member killed by a gun, compared to 17% of white adults and 18% of Hispanic adults.

Black adults were also about twice as likely as white adults to say they witnessed someone being shot, with about 31% of Black adults reporting this compared to 14% of white adults and 22% of Hispanic adults.

KFF, formerly the Kaiser Family Foundation, surveyed 1,271 adults in English and Spanish between March 14 and 23.

Many survey respondents reported living in fear of gun violence. Many others reported owning guns that are improperly stored.

About a third of both Hispanic and Black adults said they worry daily or almost daily that a family member will become a victim of gun violence. Among white adults, about 10% feel that concern daily.

Parents of children under age 18 are more likely to report this fear, with about 24% of these parents reporting daily worry compared to 15% of other adults.

Among Black adults, 1 in 6 adults does not feel at all safe from guns in their neighborhoods, a far greater segment than the 2% of white people and 9% of Hispanic people who feel that way.

Gun ownership is common, the survey also found.

About 4 in 10 adults, including many with children, say they live in homes that have guns.

Moreover, about three-quarters of people with guns in their homes say they are not stored using common gun-safety practices.

That includes 52% who say their gun is stored near its ammunition and 44% who say the gun is kept unlocked. More than one-third say that a gun in their home is stored loaded.

About one-third of parents in gun-owning households store the weapon in an unlocked location, and approximately the same number store a loaded gun. About 61% admitted storing a gun in the same location as ammunition.

Some have had conversations about guns with health professionals, including their child’s pediatrician. About 26% report that their child’s doctor has asked about guns in the home and 8% said they’ve talked about gun safety. A significantly smaller percentage of people without children in the home said they've talked about guns with their doctor.

More information

The American Academy of Pediatrics has more on gun safety for families.

SOURCE: KFF (Kaiser Family Foundation), news release, April 11, 2023

What This Means for You

Because sloppy gun-safety practices are common, your kids may be playing in homes where guns are left unlocked, and possibly even loaded.

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