AP Photo/John Minchillo
Nearly 50% of Americans are either very or somewhat worried about them or a loved one becoming the victim of an active assailant, according to a new Gallup Poll survey. Almost one in five adults say they’re “very worried”, while nearly a third say they’re somewhat worried. Both results are slightly higher than the last time Gallup asked the question back in 2017.
There are stark differences in the levels of worry between some demographic subgroups. Most notably, Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents, those who do not personally own a gun, women and younger adults are all significantly more worried than their counterparts.
According to Gallup, 64% of Democrats and independents who lean left say they are at least somewhat worried, while only 27% of Republicans and independents who lean right say the same. In fact, while the number of Democrats who say they’re worried has spiked 15 points since 2017, the number of Republicans who say they’re concerned hasn’t changed over the past two years.
Non-gun owners are also more worried than gun owners, and by a substantial margin. 58% of those surveyed who don’t own a gun said they’re worried about becoming the victim of a mass shooting, while just 30% of gun owners said the same.
Gallup also asked if Americans have made any changes in their lives as a result of their concern, and while most respondents say they haven’t, the number one change for those who have decided to do something different involves guns.
Despite Americans’ heightened concern, few are taking any of four measures tested by Gallup to avoid being the victim of a mass shooting. These questions, asked for the first time in August, assessed whether Americans’ concern about mass shootings has caused them to avoid public places like stores, restaurants or churches, avoided events with large crowds such as concerts, festivals or sporting events, purchased a gun or other weapon, or purchased special products to protect them in the event of a mass shooting.
The largest percentages doing any of these is 13% for purchasing a gun and 12% for avoiding events with large crowds. About half as many say they have avoided stores or other public places (6%) or purchased protective products (6%). For the most part, these four precautions haven’t even entered Americans’ minds. Majorities say they have not thought about purchasing protective equipment (62%) or avoiding public places (56%).
In addition to the 13% of respondents who say they’ve purchased a gun to avoid being the victim of a mass shooting, another 16% say they’re seriously considering it. I wish Gallup would have included a question about giving up guns in its polling. If 13% of respondents said that they’ve purchased a gun, I wonder how many would say they’ve gotten rid of their firearms (I’m guessing it’s a lot lower).
It’s clear that gun control advocates see fear as one of their most effective tools to change the country’s gun laws, but the fact is that the anti-gun crowd may be driving up gun sales instead of, or in addition to, driving up support for gun control laws.
I would also like to see how worried Americans are about being involved in a fatal car crash, losing a loved one to opioids, drowning, or dying because of medical mistakes, since the odds for those events are far higher than the odds of being the victim of an active assailant. The media coverage, combined with the stoking of fear by anti-gun activists and politicians, is driving a lot of the concern over active assailant attacks. If the media doesn’t talk about something, are we as afraid of it?