HomeGun Violence: How Worried Are Americans?
Sep 29, 2023
6 min read
SafeWise experts have years of firsthand experience testing the products we recommend. Learn how we test and review. We may earn money when you buy through our links.
California enacts landmark gun safety lawsCalifornia Governor Gavin Newsom signed a groundbreaking set of gun safety measures into law, including a doubling of taxes on guns and ammunition and a ban on carrying firearms in most public places. The legislation imposes an 11% excise tax on firearms and ammunition sales, earmarking the funds to support gun safety programs. This move makes California the first state in the U.S. to take such action.The California Rifle and Pistol Association has already filed a lawsuit challenging the laws, citing their unconstitutionality. These measures respond to a recent Supreme Court ruling expanding gun rights and aim to generate $160 million annually for school safety and violence prevention programs. In addition, a law requiring microstamping technology on semiautomatic pistols sold in the state will take effect in 2028. Governor Newsom emphasized that these laws will contribute to making California’s communities safer and prevent gun-related tragedies.Nearly 1 in 2 Americans are highly concerned about gun violence every single day. Since 2018, we’ve surveyed over 20,000 Americans—with representation from each state—to find out how worried people are about different crime and safety issues.
Our first State of Safety survey didn’t specifically ask about anything related to guns. But, due to a number of spontaneous answers showing high anxiety in this area, we added questions about mass shootings and gun violence (in general) to subsequent surveys.
Here’s what America told us—and the tragic numbers driving a national concern about this ongoing issue.
Stay Safe and become a SafeWise Insider!
Sign up for our free weekly newsletter to get the best safety news, product info, and deals.
A closer look at gun violenceGun incidentsGuns for protectionGun violence numbers
Some facts about US gun violence so far in 2023
Unfortunately, I opened my news browser to more headlines about a school shooting today. This incident at a private Christian elementary school in Nashville, Tennessee marks 130 mass shootings so far this year, according to Gun Violence Archive.
How to talk to kids about school shootingsThis is something I never had to address with my kids (thankfully), but these days we need to help our youth process the ongoing specter of gun violence in schools.Here’s a quick rundown of recommendations from a child stress and trauma expert:Make sure you stay calmBe a good listenerTailor your approach to your child’s ageHelp kids cope with anxiety around these events, drills, etc.Make a game plan for trauma care, if neededRead the full recommendations in our guide to talking to kids about school shootings.Year-to-date, more than 9,800 people have lost their lives to gun violence in the US. Of those, 193 people have been killed in a mass shooting incident.
Here’s a breakdown of how this year looks compared to 2022:
2023 has seen an average of 1.5 mass shootings per day—2022 had 1.7 per day.
If we keep up that pace, we’re on track for 548 mass shootings this year—that’s a 10% decrease year over year, which means we could see 100 fewer mass shooting incidents in 2023.
As of March 27, the US is losing around 115 people per day to gun violence; we lost more than 120 per day in 2022.
If the 2023 pace holds steady, we could see a 4% decline in gun-related deaths year over year—that means over 1,800 fewer lives lost.
In 2021, there were 690 mass shootings in the US; the highest ever on record. Hopefully, 2023 will continue the declines seen throughout 2022, which saw 646 total incidents (a 6% drop year over year).
Americans have a complicated relationship with guns
Concern about gun violence and mass shootings increased by 31% year over year—jumping from 36% to 47%. Guns, in general, have been showing up in survey respondents’ open answers since our first survey in 2018.
Some people rely on firearms as a form of protection, others are afraid of ongoing reports about mass shootings and other gun incidents in the news, and some are worried about gun rights being threatened.
“[I worry about] the people trying to take gun owners’ guns away.”
12% of Kansas respondents reported experience with gun violence, and Kansas is the 16th least-concerned state in regard to gun violence.
Gun incidents are getting closer to home
What stood out in our most recent survey was the number of people who told us they regularly hear gunshots in their neighborhood. People also reported more gun incidents closer to where they live. I’ve personally had two gunfire incidents this past year—one right outside a house where I was visiting and one down the street in my neighborhood.
Of all comments that mentioned guns or gun violence, 9 out of 10 expressed anxiety or fear.
“In the area where I live, there seems to be a lot more shootings than there used to be.”
10% of Indiana respondents reported experience with gun violence, and Indiana is the 13th most-concerned state in regard to gun violence.“I hear gunshots two to three times a week in my neighborhood.”
—South Carolina respondent
22% of South Carolina respondents reported experience with gun violence (a 10 point jump year over year), and South Carolina is the twelfth most-concerned state in regard to gun violence.
Personal experience with a gun violence incident rose 50% year over year, and nearly 5 in 10 Americans are worried about a gun violence incident happening to them.
The states that saw the most mass shooting incidents in 2022, are Illinois with 57, California and Texas with 50 each, and Pennsylvania with 34 incidents.
When it comes to concern about gun violence, Illinois tops the list with 3 in 4 Louisiana residents highly concerned on a daily basis.
The states that reported the most personal experience with gun violence in 2021 are Georgia (25%), Louisiana (23%), and South Carolina (22%).
Nationwide, more than 1 in 10 survey respondents reported a personal experience with gun violence in the past 12 months.
“Do I need a gun? Will there be a time when . . . people all are running rampant with their guns and I will be in danger because I do not have one?”
—Louisiana respondent23% of Louisiana respondents reported experience with gun violence (a 12 point rise year over year), and Louisiana is the second most-concerned state in regard to gun violence.
Some rely on guns for protection
Many Americans look to guns to protect themselves, their families, and their property. But we were surprised to find that more people use a firearm for personal protection than to keep their property safe.
From no guns to pro gunsWorry and fear are driving some people who were anti-gun to embrace firearms for protection.Gun sales have also been growing in populations that typically adopt guns at a lower rate. Sales to both women and people of color first jumped in 2020.
30% of respondents who use a form of home protection use firearms—15% more than the previous reporting year.
41% of respondents who use a form of personal protection rely on a concealed carry firearm, a rise of 8% year over year.
Use of firearms for protection rose across the board between our 2022 and 2023 reports.
Depending on the source, between 20% and 40% of gun purchases in 2020 were first-time gun owners.
“No concerns keep me up. I have a gun in every room.”
—Alaska respondent12% of Alaska respondents reported experience with gun violence—double what was reported the previous year, and Alaska is the eighth least-concerned state in regard to gun violence.
Gun violence by the numbers
The country seems to be constantly shaken by new reports of gun violence. Here’s a look at how 2023 (so far) compares to the rate of shootings across the country in recent years.
Gun violence statistics in the US 2018–2023*
YearGun violence deaths Gun violence injuriesMass shootings20239,882*7,433*130*202244,33338,587646202145,11640,611690202043,72739,543610201939,60230,204417201814,94628,285336*Year-to-date data for 2023 through March 27, 2023.
There were nearly 30,000 more gun violence deaths in 2022 compared to 2018.
After peaking in 2021, deaths due to gun violence decreased 1.7% between 2021 and 2022.
Gun violence injuries decreased almost 5% between 2021 and 2022.
Mass shootings fell just over 6% from 2021 to 2022.
Nearly one quarter through the year, 2023 has seen 17,315 deaths and injuries due to gun violence—that’s 21% of 2022’s total.
2023 has had 130 mass shootings as of March 27—20% of the total incidents seen in 2022.
Surprising state insights
These states all saw more than one million firearms background checks in 2022.
These states saw the most mass shooting incidents in 2022.
New York: 31
To find out more about gun violence attitudes, perceptions, and experiences in your state, see our Safest Cities reports or read the full State of Safety in America 2023 report.
Firearms checks data from the FBI as of June 30, 2021.Mass shooting data from Gun Violence Archive as of July 14, 2021.
Related articles on SafeWise
Gun Safety for Kids: Firearm Safety at Home
The Facts behind True Crime: Is Murder Really a Threat?
10 Safest Metro Cities in the US
10 Most Dangerous Cities in the US
Does a Gun Make Your Home Safer?
Best Gun Safes
Best Gun Trigger Locks
SafeWise uses data from the Gun Violence Archive (GVA) to track gun violence incidents. We also adhere to the GVA definition for mass shootings.
Mass shooting definition: “If four or more people are shot or killed in a single incident, not involving the shooter, that incident is categorized as a mass shooting based purely on that numerical threshold.”
All GVA data is current as of the date last accessed. The GVA regularly changes and updates its data as incidents are examined for accuracy.
SafeWise, “2021 State of Safety survey,” Accessed March 27, 2023.
Gun Violence Archive, “Mass Shootings in 2023,” Accessed March 27, 2023.
Gun Violence Archive, “Past Summary Ledgers,” Accessed March 27, 2023.
Gun Violence Archive, “General Methodology,” Accessed March 27, 2023.
FBI, “NICS Firearm Checks: Month/Year by State,” Accessed March 27, 2023.
Rebecca is the lead safety reporter and in-house expert for SafeWise.com. She has been a journalist and blogger for over 25 years, with a focus on home and community safety for the past decade. Rebecca spends dozens of hours every month poring over crime and safety reports and spotting trends. Her expertise is sought after by publications, broadcast journalists, non-profit organizations, podcasts, and more.
You can find her expert advice and analysis in places like NPR, TechCrunch, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Miami Herald, HGTV, MSN, Reader’s Digest, Real Simple, and an ever-growing library of podcast, radio and TV clips in the US and abroad.
By Rebecca Edwards
10 Best Home Security Systems of 2023
After hundreds of hours of tests and research, plus a combined 50+ years of experience,…
By John Carlsen
Best DIY Home Security Systems of 2023
SimpliSafe is the best DIY home security system because it’s cost-efficient, effective, and easy to…
By John Carlsen
The Best Home Security Systems in Canada
Find the best home alarm system to protect your house. We looked at price, features,…
By Cathy Habas
2023 Best Home Security Systems for Renters
These renter-friendly home security systems keep your house or apartment safe and require less commitment…