Knowledge of gun-related deaths

View the Findings from the Second Part of the Series “Americans’ View on Key Gun Policies” from APM Research Lab, Guns & America, and MPR Mental Health

Data collection conducted by SSRS

Our nonpartisan, nationally representative survey provides new information about the American public’s opinions about gun policies and behaviors among those who own guns (or live with those who do). The survey was conducted July 16 to 21, 2019, just two weeks prior to the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. It covered several topics which will be released in waves. This is the second release; the first release on “red flag” laws and characteristics of gun owners can be found here.

What Americans know about gun-related deaths

Although suicides account for the majority of gun deaths in the United States — 60% in the latest data — by and large American adults are unaware of this. In our survey, only one-fourth of Americans correctly answered that gun deaths by suicide outnumber deaths resulting from mass shootings, murders other than mass shootings, and accidental gun discharges. This is no better than guessing at random from among the four choices given.

The most common answer to the question, “As far as you know, which of the following is responsible for the most gun deaths in the United States?” is “murders other than mass shootings,” with one-third of American adults believing this is the leading cause of gun death. One-quarter think “mass shootings” are the leading cause of gun-related deaths. Fourteen percent believe that “accidental discharges” of guns account for more gun deaths than the three other categories offered in the question.