Gun Violence in the United States

NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist National Poll

More Americans Say Local Schools are Not Safe from Gun Violence… Six in Ten Prioritize Controlling Gun Violence Over Protecting Gun Rights

One year after the deadly school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, which took the lives of 19 children and two teachers, a growing proportion of Americans now say schools in their local communities are not safe from gun violence. While there is little consensus about the best method to combat gun violence, the proportion of Americans who say it is more important to control gun violence than to protect gun rights has reached a new high. Six in ten Americans, including four in ten who own guns, currently have this view.

Gun Safety in Schools
In general, do you think the schools in your community are safe or not safe from gun violence?
NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll National Adults. Interviews conducted May 15th through May 18th, 2023, n=1,286 MOE +/- 3.4 percentage points. Totals may not add to 100% due to rounding.
  • 57% of Americans, down from 65% in February 2019, think the schools in their local community are safe from gun violence. 40%, up from 30%, think schools in their area are not safe from such violence. Republicans (69%) and independents (58%) are more likely than Democrats to say their community schools are safe. Democrats divide (49% safe to 48% not safe).

  • 60% of Americans, including four in ten who own guns, think it is more important to control gun violence than to protect gun rights (38%). Democrats (88%) overwhelmingly agree. 55% of independents say the same. While 67% of Republicans think it is more important to protect gun rights, 32% of the GOP say controlling gun violence should be the priority.

  • More than one in four Americans (27%) say banning the sale of semi-automatic assault weapons would be the most impactful in reducing gun violence in the United States. 17% think mental health screenings for all gun buyers would make the most difference. Background checks for gun purchases at gun shows and other private sales (13%), red flag laws (12%), and allowing teachers to carry guns in the classroom (10%) follow. A notable 20% of Americans do not think any of these options would have an impact.

  • 62% of Americans of say their first reaction, when hearing about a mass shooting in the United States, is that the country needs stricter gun laws. This is comparable to 59% in February of 2019. However, a growing proportion of Americans also say their first reaction to a mass shooting is more people need to carry guns. 35% have this view compared with 25% in 2019. Four percent, down from 16%, are unsure.

  • Nearly six in ten Americans (58%) approve of “stand your ground laws” which allow people in a public place to kill or injure a perceived attacker. 40% disapprove. These results are comparable to a 2012 CNN/ORC Poll which found 55% of Americans approved of “stand your ground laws,” and 43% disapproved. While 81% of Republicans and 57% of independents currently approve of these laws, 60% of Democrats disapprove.

"Inaction by lawmakers in Washington on the issue of guns is clearly out of step with public opinion," says Lee M. Miringoff, Director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion. "In fact, Americans see a host of options to address growing concern over gun violence."

More Than Four in Ten Affected by Gun Violence

41% of Americans say that they or someone they know has experienced gun violence. 59% have not. In June of 2022, 38% reported they have been personally impacted by gun violence.