The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) Tuesday released a report detailing Americans’ experiences with gun violence. The report demonstrated a disproportionate effect of gun violence on people of color.
The report surveyed 1,271 U.S. adults about their personal experience with guns. Of those surveyed, 21 percent reported being personally threatened with a gun and 19 percent reported having a family member killed by a gun (including suicide). Additionally, 84 percent reported taking some measure to protect themselves or their families from gun violence. While only 17 percent of those surveyed reported having witnessed someone else being shot, this number was significantly higher among people of color, with 31 percent of Black adults and 22 percent of Hispanic adults.
The KFF also reported statistics on knowledge of gun violence in the US. Most notably, only 49 percent of those surveyed were aware that guns are the leading cause of death for children and teens under 20 in the US.
While it is hard for a volunteer-based survey to be completely representative of a population, the results show an increase on the impact of gun violence in the US. Other recent reports, such as the 2022 report from the Pew Research Center, support these findings, noting the large increase in gun violence and gun related deaths over the last decade.
With this increase in gun violence has come an increase in debate over gun control policies in the US. On a federal level, a bill currently up for debate in Congress proposes a ban on assault-style weapons. The bill passed in the House in July 2022 and is up for consideration in the Senate later this year.
Those opposed to this bill consider it be an infringement on the rights protected by the US Constitution’s Second Amendment. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) noted that while the right to bear arms is included in the US Constitution and guns cannot be banned completely, this right is not absolute. They said:
The American Civil Liberties Union firmly believes that legislatures can, consistent with the Constitution, impose reasonable limits on firearms sale, ownership, and use, without raising civil liberties concerns. We recognize, as the Supreme Court has stated, that the Constitution does not confer a “right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.” But some proposed reforms encroach unnecessarily on civil liberties.
The National Rifle Association (NRA), a US-based organization that promotes gun rights, claims the passage of the bill would “infringe on the rights of the law-abiding.” On the other hand, those in support of the bill, such as March For Our Lives, believes that this bill is a step in the right direction towards the end of gun violence.
At the state level, recent legislation has pushed for more relaxed gun control measures. Last week, legislation in Florida allowed for concealed carry without a permit, and a Minnesota court struck down the 21-year-old age minimum on handgun permits. Additionally, in the wake of a Nashville, Tennessee shooting, the Tennessee legislature expelled two lawmakers for protesting gun violence.