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Blog Post · August 22, 2023

Concerns about Gun Violence Are Widespread

photo - Police cars responding to an incident with police line tape

With increases in violent crime around the state, Californians are concerned about gun violence, particularly in their local community. Some express nearly constant worry about becoming a victim of gun violence—but concerns vary noticeably across demographic groups, state regions, and party affiliation.

Our July PPIC Statewide Survey found that 25% of Californians worry every (11%) or almost every day (14%) that they or a loved one will be a victim of gun violence. Just 11% say they never worry about this issue. Adults nationwide are slightly less likely to express this concern (8% every day, 10% almost every day), according to a recent Kaiser Family Foundation survey.

The numbers of those expressing high levels of worry vary widely—contrasts across race/ethnic groups, income levels, and political parties are particularly noticeable. Parents are much more likely to worry about this compared to adults without children.

Despite these worries, we find that most Californians—about seven in ten—consider themselves either very or somewhat safe from gun violence in their own neighborhood. In contrast, adults nationwide are more likely to say they feel safe (41% very safe, 41% somewhat safe) than Californians, according to the KFF survey.

Again, these sentiments vary widely in California. This is particularly noticeable across partisan, racial/ethnic, and regional groups, when it comes to feeling very safe from gun violence in one’s own neighborhood. Parents are somewhat less likely than adults without children to say this.

Still, a solid majority say that gun-related crimes, injuries, and deaths are either a constant threat or a major concern. Once again, Californians’ views on this subject are more pessimistic than those of adults nationwide (11% constant threat, 40% a major concern), according to the Kaiser Family Foundation survey.

And once again, we see variation across groups of Californians—especially among those saying it is a constant threat. These contrasts are most notable among partisan, racial/ethnic, and regional groups— and parents are more likely than adults without children to say this.

Nearly half of adults who worry every day that they could become a victim of gun violence also say they do not feel safe at all from gun violence in their neighborhoods, and a third of this group also say that gun-related crimes are a constant threat to their local community.

These perceptions provide context for Californians’ strong support of gun regulation: roughly two in three prioritize controlling gun ownership over protecting the right to own guns. A  similar share supports a nationwide ban on assault weapons.

On the policy front, California last year established the first in nation Office of Gun Violence Prevention. More recently, Governor Newsom has pushed this issue to the national level, announcing an effort to restrict gun ownership in America through an amendment to the US Constitution.

As the state and the nation grapple with gun violence and gun policy, the PPIC Statewide Survey will continue to follow Californians’ views of these challenging issues.


Criminal Justice gun laws gun violence guns Political Landscape public safety Statewide Survey