HealthDay News — Nearly 20 percent of the American population has had a family member killed by a gun, including by suicide, and one in six has witnessed a shooting, a new survey found. KFF, formerly the Kaiser Family Foundation, surveyed 1,271 adults in English and Spanish between March 14 and 23.
The survey also revealed about 4 percent have shot a gun in self-defense and 4 percent 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 with 17 percent of White adults and 18 percent of Hispanic adults. Black adults were also about twice as likely as White adults to say they witnessed someone being shot, with about 31 percent of Black adults reporting this compared with 14 percent of White adults and 22 percent of Hispanic adults.
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 percent feel that concern daily. Parents of children younger than age 18 years are more likely to report this fear, with about 24 percent of these parents reporting daily worry compared with 15 percent of other adults. Among Black adults, one in six does not feel at all safe from guns in their neighborhoods, a far greater segment than the 2 percent of White people and 9 percent of Hispanic people who feel that way.
Gun ownership is common, the survey also found. About four 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 percent who say their gun is stored near its ammunition and 44 percent 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 percent 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 percent report that their child’s doctor has asked about guns in the home and 8 percent said they have talked about gun safety. A significantly smaller percentage of people without children in the home said they have talked about guns with their doctor.