There has already been 248 mass killings this year, according to Gun Violence Archive. By this point in 2021, there had been 258 mass shootings; in 2020, 173. Mass shootings are defined by Gun Violence Archive as incidents in which at least four people – not including the shooter – are injured or killed, and they have increased in recent years.
However, it is often a few mass shootings that make national headlines and spark outrage. Public opinion often shifts in favor of tougher gun laws after high-profile mass shootings, such as the one on May 14 that killed 10 people in a racist attack in Buffalo, New York, and that of May 24 that killed 19 children and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.
It should therefore come as no surprise that the latest FiveThirtyEight/Ipsos poll, which was conducted from May 26 to June 6 and visited the field two days after the shooting in Uvalde, found that concerns about gun violence had increased. Use of Ipsos Knowledge panel, we polled the same roughly 2,000 Americans in our previous survey, and of the 1,691 adults who responded, 42% named “crime or gun violence” as one of the most important issues facing the country. is facing, up 19 percentage points from the first wave. of the survey published in early May. This was by far the largest increase for any issue we asked about, putting it behind only “inflation or rising costs” as Americans’ top concern for the country.
Americans’ level of concern about crime and/or gun violence varied widely by party, as Democrats and Independents drove much of the change. A solid majority of Democrats, 58%, named the issue a top concern, down from 33% in early May, while 41% of independents said the same, down from 19%. Republicans have also become more concerned about crime and/or gun violence, but the rise has been much smaller, from 19% in May to 29% now.
We also found a dramatic increase in the proportion of Black and Hispanic Americans who named crime and/or gun violence as one of the nation’s biggest problems, which helps explain, in part, the degree of concern higher among Democrats, as Democrats. are more racially and ethnically diverse than Republicans. The share of Hispanic Americans who cited the issue more than doubled, from 23% in May to 61%. To a lesser but still significant extent, the share of Black Americans who cited gun violence or crime as a major problem also jumped, from 35% in early May to 55% in our latest survey. White Americans were also more likely to be worried, but their overall level of concern was comparatively lower: 35% cited the issue as a top concern, down from 19% a month ago.
Part of this dramatic change can be explained by the amount of media attention given to gun violence in the days following the shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde. In fact, three-quarters of respondents said they had heard “a lot” about crime and/or gun violence in the news, more attention than any other topic we asked about – even inflation ( about two-thirds said they had heard of). Many on).
But, of course, as we said at the start, that’s often what happens in the aftermath of a high-profile mass shooting. Due to increased media coverage, there is increased concern about gun violence and/or much greater support for tougher gun laws. However, the spotlight tends to fade over time and shift to other issues, so that Americans become less involved in the issue and support for tougher gun laws falls to what it once was. We didn’t ask about support for tougher gun laws in this poll, but we do know that more Americans are worried about gun violence. Even before this survey, it was one of the top three issues facing Americans, so we plan to follow up soon with a deeper dive to better understand what drives Americans’ concerns about gun violence and/or crime.
Nothing has changed as much as Americans’ concerns about crime and/or gun violence in our poll, but there have been a handful of other significant changes regarding the issues Americans felt were most pressing for the country. Abortion, for example, saw the second biggest change on the net, probably thanks to increased media coverage of the issue in early May after leaked draft Supreme Court opinion this suggests the court might be willing to overturn Roe v. Wade, who established the constitutional right to abortion in 1973. Nine percent of respondents to our survey named it a major issue, up from just 4 percent a month ago. That said, abortion isn’t the issue that worries Americans the most in our poll.
On the contrary, this distinction always belongs to inflation. Americans are the most concerned about inflation, with even more respondents (56%) citing it as a concern than in our last survey (52%). That was largely down to Republicans, as 75% cited inflation as a top concern, up from 65% a month ago. Independents were also slightly more likely to name it as a concern, 56% now compared to 50% in May. About 40% of Democrats cited inflation as a concern, but that’s barely changed from our previous survey.
Finally, political extremism and polarization remained a top issue overall, ranking third behind inflation and gun crime/violence after ranking second in our last survey. We also delved into this question and Americans’ attitudes toward political extremism and polarization in this survey, so we’ll examine those findings in greater depth in a post early next week. But as we’ve highlighted here, there’s no doubt that the main finding of our second FiveThirtyEight/Ipsos poll is that more Americans are concerned about crime and/or gun violence, at least for now.