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Blog Post · July 5, 2023

Californians’ Views on Mass Shootings and Assault Weapons

photo - Sheriff Line Do Not Cross with Police Car on California Residential Street

The US has endured more than 300 mass shootings—gun-related incidents that injure or kill four or more people—so far in 2023, outpacing any other year on record. Recent PPIC research finds that California has experienced a mass shooting every six days since the beginning of the year. Given these troubling numbers, it might not be surprising that concern about mass shootings is on the rise in California.

Nearly two in three Californians are concerned about the threat of a mass shooting in the area they live in, including about a quarter who are very concerned, according to the June PPIC Statewide Survey. Fewer than four in ten are not very or not at all concerned. The share saying they are at least somewhat concerned has risen to levels not seen since September 2019, about two months after a mass shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival.

Today, majorities across almost all demographic, regional, and partisan groups are concerned—with the exception of Republicans, who are more likely to say they are not very or not at all concerned. Shares saying they are very concerned are highest among African Americans (34%), Latinos (31%), and adults with only a high school diploma (30%). Across the state’s major regions, about three in ten in Los Angeles are very concerned, compared fewer elsewhere.

When asked if they would support or oppose a nationwide ban on the sale of assault weapons, most adults (68%) and likely voters (71%) expressed support. Nine in ten Democrats and about two-thirds of independents would support such a ban, compared to fewer than four in ten Republicans. Support is strongest among college graduates (80%), residents of San Francisco Bay Area (77%) and Los Angeles (76%), Asian Americans (76%), and women (73%).

Among Californians who have a gun in their household, a majority (57%) say they are very or somewhat concerned about the threat of a mass shooting in the area they live in. Gun owners are divided about a nationwide ban on the sale of assault weapons. In our June survey, two in ten adults reported having guns, pistols, or rifles in their homes. This is about half of the share of gun owners nationwide (41%), according to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey. Gun ownership in California is most prevalent among Republicans (39%), whites (28%), ages 55 and older (29%), adults with incomes of $80,000 or more (28%), and men (24%). Residents in the Inland Empire and Central Valley are somewhat more likely than residents elsewhere to say they own guns.

As the country continues to grapple with mass shootings and other types of gun violence—and policymakers look for ways to respond—PPIC will continue to track Californians’ views and concerns.


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