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1 in 5 U.S. adults say they've had a family member killed by a gun, new study finds

New survey shows wide impact of gun violence
Survey finds more than half of U.S. adults have experienced gun-related incident 03:21

Nearly one in five American adults say they have had a family member who was killed by a gun, including suicides, according to a new study from the Kaiser Family Foundation. Roughly the same number (21%) said they have been personally threatened with a gun, the study found.

People of color were more likely to report witnessing gun violence or having family members who were killed by guns. More than one-third of Black adults said they had a family member who was killed by a gun, compared with 17% of White respondents and 18% of Hispanic adults who participated in the study.

Three in 10 Black adults and one in five Hispanic adults said they had personally witnessed someone being shot, according to the study. A little more than one in five (22%) of Hispanic adults said they had seen someone being shot.

Black adults were also more likely to report feeling unsafe in their neighborhoods.

"While most adults overall say they feel either 'very' (41%) or 'somewhat' (41%) safe from gun violence in their neighborhoods, significant shares say they feel 'not too safe' (13%) or not safe at all (5%)," KFF said in a statement announcing the results of the study. "One in six Black adults (17%) don't feel at all safe in their neighborhoods, far greater than the share of White (2%) or Hispanic (9%) adults."

Chart showing results of survey on gun violence
KFF/Created with Datawrapper

Black (32%) and Hispanic adults (33%) were also a little more than three times more likely to report worrying daily or almost daily that a family member will become a victim of gun violence than White adults (10%).

"Black adults are far more worried about their kids being caught up in gun violence, being injured in gun violence, than are White parents," said Dr. Céline Gounder, a CBS News medical contributor and editor-at-large for public health at KFF.

The study found that 41% of all adults said they lived in a household with guns. Of those with guns in the home, 75% said the guns were "stored in ways that don't reflect some common gun-safety practices," said KFF, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization focused on national health issues.

"Specifically, about half (52%) say that a gun in their home is stored in the same location as ammunition; more than four in 10 (44%) say that a gun is kept in an unlocked location; and more than a third (36%) say that a gun is stored loaded," KFF said.

"The American Academy of Pediatrics and other medical and public health groups recommend storing your gun safely... because kids are curious. And if they find a loaded, unlocked gun with ammunition... they may well play with that," Gounder said. 

"Gun death has now become the leading cause of death among kids and teens. And many of these are preventable deaths."

If you or someone you know is in emotional distress or a suicidal crisis, you can reach the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline by calling or texting 988. You can also chat with the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline here.

For more information about mental health care resources and support, The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) HelpLine can be reached Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.–10 p.m. ET, at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) or email

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