Devastating mass shootings, one after another. Gun reform legislation for the 1st time in decades. Violent crime up since 2019. Debates over whether to fund or defund police. For the higher part of 2 yrs now, crime and gun violence have consistently experienced the news headlines and on the minds of Americans, which explains why were going for a closer consider the topic in the fourth installment of our FiveThirtyEight/Ipsos survey.
As an individual combined issue, crime or gun violence has consistently ranked as a high concern inside our survey. Weve asked exactly the same 2,000 roughly Americans since late April using Ipsoss KnowledgePanel in what they think will be the countrys most significant issues, and inside our latest wave, 33 percent of the 1,538 adults who responded named crime or gun violence as a high issue facing the united states, rendering it the second-most important topic of the 20 we asked about.
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Only inflation or increasing costs has surpassed crime or gun violence inside our poll, undoubtedly as the country is coping with the highest inflation because the early 1980s. But even prior to the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, that killed 19 children and two teachers at an elementary school, Americans ranked crime or gun violence because the third-most important issue facing the united states.
Having said that, not everyone inside our survey is prioritizing the problem just as. Democrats will cite it as an issue than either independents2 or Republicans. In the most recent wave of our survey, 44 percent of Democrats named it as a high issue for the united states, weighed against 31 percent of independents and 26 percent of Republicans. Moreover, Democrats have ranked it either first or second atlanta divorce attorneys wave of our poll, while independents have placed it consistently within their top three issues and Republicans within their top six.
Section of what were seeing here’s that differing people fixate on different facets of crime or gun violence. Looting, stealing, attempting to hack computers, always seeking to take from others, said a 77-year old man from NY who defined as a Republican and homed in on acts of thievery. Meanwhile, a 37-year old woman from Minnesota who defined as a Democrat focused more on gun violence. Im a lot more afraid of the mass shooting epidemic in this country than of any random acts of crime, she said.
Its why we tried to dig deeper in this survey to raised know how people consider crime and gun violence. Do they consider them separately, for example? To greatly help answer this, we asked respondents to rank a listing of 12 words or phrases by just how much they associated each with either crime or gun violence. So when the chart below shows, we found people tended to associate shooting and murder strongly with gun violence, whereas there wasnt as clear a pattern that words they associated most with crime. Forty to 70 percent ranked shooting, murder and firearm in the very best three words connected with gun violence, while 35 percent to 48 percent put robbery, murder, burglary, shooting and assault amongst their top three for crime. Some Americans also associated gun violence more with mental well-being, as 18 percent placed mental health within their top-three phrases for gun violence.3
Along with asking respondents which words or phrases they connected with crime or gun violence, we also asked which of both they thought was a more impressive issue facing the united states.4 The type of who named crime or gun violence as a high issue, 77 percent picked gun violence because the bigger issue, weighed against only 21 percent who chose crime. This is also true among all respondents, even though gap was less lopsided: Fifty-five percent chose gun violence, and 34 percent named crime.
However, regardless of the greater concern over gun violence, independents were pretty split on what they viewed the problem, siding more with Democrats on the significance of gun violence as a significant issue and much more with Republicans on the question of how far better address crime.
And 56 percent of independents said gun violence was the larger issue, weighed against 29 percent who said crime. Just consider the remaining world mocking Americans and their guns. Were killing ourselves. I don’t desire to fear everyday places: school, grocery, church, the mall, a parade, said a 46-year old woman from California who defined as an unbiased who leaned Republican. Similarly, when asked if they preferred gun laws which were more strict, less restrictive or upheld the status quo, 60 percent of independents said they supported more restrictions, that was about halfway between where Democrats (87 percent) and Republicans (35 percent) stood with this question (61 percent overall preferred stricter regulations).
Having said that, most independents sided with Republicans on the question of how exactly to best spend resources to handle crime. Fifty-five percent of independents said increasing police funding would reduce crime, while 38 percent favored redirecting some police spending to social services instead. This majority view among independents was still less pronounced than among Republicans, 83 percent of whom supported increasing police spending, while just a minority of Democrats (36 percent) thought increasing police spending would reduce crime.
Overall, though, crime or gun violence was a concern that Americans had seen plenty of in the news headlines. Sixty-seven percent said theyd seen lots of coverage during the past month, that was bested by only inflation (68 percent).5 Eddie Ellison, a Black man from Georgia who defined as an unbiased, told us, Everywhere, each time you turn the news headlines on, whatever you see is gun violence, murders and robberies and things like this.
Its perhaps one reason Americans knowledge of crime and gun violence was pretty accurate. For example, we discovered that 60 percent knew that the U.S. gets the highest amount of gun deaths per capita among all developed countries. Exactly the same percentage correctly identified that the amount of active shooter incidents has changed during the last 20 years (its increased). Additionally, 51 percent correctly said that violent crime, such as for example murder and rape, increased in 2020, the final year that we’ve data, while only 9 percent incorrectly said it hadnt (38 percent said they didnt know).
Having said that, Americans also overstated the rate of violent crime and property crime when compared to past, probably partly because we have a tendency to forget about items that havent happened recently. Indeed, 49 percent said the rate of violent crime was higher in 2020 than in 1991 it wasnt while 41 percent said the rate of crimes like burglary and car theft hadnt been declining since 2010, when, actually, it has. These werent designed to be gotcha questions, actually. Instead, we wished to get yourself a sense of how degrees of concern when compared to actual data on crime and gun violence.
About policy ideas Americans want to see implemented to potentially reduce gun violence, there is plenty of agreement, however. At the very least 74 percent backed a bunch of different requirements, such as for example safety training before investing in a gun, universal criminal background checks for several gun sales, a mandatory mental health evaluation before a gun sale and raising the minimum age to get a firearm from 18 to 21.6
This is a location of relative bipartisan agreement, too, as majorities of Democrats, Republicans and independents supported each one of these proposals. They have to have an improved screening process concerning whos in a position to buy a gun, said Stephanie Brown, a Black woman from Virginia who defined as a Democrat. Minimal popular measure was requiring gun purchasers to prove they might properly store weapons, but 68 percent still backed that proposal, including 53 percent of Republicans. Amalia Williams, a Hispanic woman from Arizona who defined as a Republican, told us the procedure for investing in a gun ought to be like the immigration process in the U.S., where peoples backgrounds are vetted. They ought to do something like this with Americans in order that it takes months to obtain a gun, she said.
Yet Americans didnt necessarily think implementing these policies will be a panacea, or that folks shouldnt have the ability to own guns. Just a 41 percent plurality thought greater restrictions on gun ownership would reduce mass shootings, while 35 percent disagreed (22 percent said they didnt know). Meanwhile, 1 / 2 of all respondents agreed that guns were essential to defend themselves and their house, and 47 percent said all Americans must have the right to possess a gun, weighed against just 39 percent who disagreed.
Concerns around gun violence could possibly be politically good for Democrats, who alongside independents will name it as a more impressive concern than crime. In the end, Democrats and independents (and also some Republicans) have a tendency to back certain restrictions on gun purchases, and 3 in 5 Americans broadly said theyd prefer stricter gun laws. However, Republicans led Democrats on the generic ballot inside our poll, which asks voters which party theyd back the race for Congress, 40 percent to 38 percent among likely voters. This marked an extremely slight shift within the margin of error back the GOPs direction after Democrats took a 1-point lead per month ago. Weve seen Democrats continue steadily to gain in FiveThirtyEights generic ballot tracker, which means this is actually a blip, but its a reminder that with the bigger concerns concerning the economy especially inflation its hard to assume issues like gun violence and crime completely ameliorating the presidential partys midterm penalty.
Additional reporting by Zoha Qamar. Art direction by Dan Dao. Copy editing by Santul Nerkar. Story editing by Sarah Frostenson.
Geoffrey Skelley is really a senior elections analyst at FiveThirtyEight. @geoffreyvs
Holly Fuong is FiveThirtyEights data editor. @holly_fuong