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Americans Equally Worried About Mass Shooting and Terrorism
Politics

Americans Equally Worried About Mass Shooting and Terrorism

Americans Equally Worried About Mass Shooting and Terrorism

Story Highlights

  • 46% worried about being a victim of terrorism
  • 45% worried about being a victim of a mass shooting
  • Partisans' levels of worry changed after President Trump took office

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- As mass shootings and acts of terrorism have increased in the U.S. and are even tied together in some high-profile incidents, Americans are now equally worried that they or a family member will be a victim of each. Similar slim majorities of Americans are not worried that they or a family member will be a victim of terrorism or a mass shooting.

Americans' Worry About Mass Shootings and Terrorism
How worried are you that you or someone in your family will become a victim of …?
Very worried Somewhat worried Not too worried Not worried at all
% % % %
Terrorism 15 31 30 22
A mass shooting 16 29 28 27
Each question asked of a half sample
GALLUP, Sept. 16-30, 2019

Overall, 46% of U.S. adults are "very" or "somewhat" worried about being a victim of terrorism, and 45% are similarly apprehensive about a mass shooting. Fewer than one in five Americans express the highest level of concern about either in these latest results. At the same time, 55% are "not too" or "not at all" worried that they or a family member would be a victim of a mass shooting, while 52% are not worried about terrorism.

The questions were asked of separate randomly selected halves of the sample in the Sept. 16-30 Gallup poll, each consisting of approximately 1,200 respondents. Although these two questions have not been previously asked in the same survey, they appeared in separate December 2015 surveys in the wake of the San Bernardino massacre that was deemed both terrorism and a mass shooting. In contrast to the current findings, in 2015 there were significant differences in levels of worry about each, as 51% of Americans were worried about being a victim of terrorism and 38% were worried about being a mass shooting victim.

Worry About Mass Shootings High on Relative Basis

December 2015 -- after the San Bernardino shooting that left 14 people dead -- marked the first time Gallup asked the mass shootings question; the second was in 2017, after one gunman killed 58 people in Las Vegas. The readings after both incidents were similar to each other -- 38% of Americans were worried about being the victim of a mass shooting in 2015, and 39% were worried in 2017.

The latest reading is nearly identical to one taken last August, several weeks after 31 people were killed in two separate mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, over a 13-hour period. At that time, a record-high 48% of Americans said they were worried about being a mass shooting victim.

Americans' Level of Worry About Being a Victim of Mass Shooting
How worried are you that you or someone in your family will become a victim of a mass shooting?
Very worried Somewhat worried Not too worried Not worried at all
% % % %
September 2019 16 29 28 27
August 2019 19 29 27 25
October 2017 10 29 34 26
December 2015 11 27 35 27
GALLUP

Americans Register Above-Average Worry About Being Victim of Terrorism

Gallup has periodically measured Americans' level of worry about personally being affected by terrorism since 1995, with more frequent readings beginning after the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the U.S. in 2001. Since then, an average 42% of U.S. adults have said they are very or somewhat worried about being a victim of terrorism. The latest 46% reading is slightly above the average, but significantly below the 59% record-high worry recorded in early October 2001, a few weeks after 9/11.

Line graph. Percentage of Americans very or somewhat worried about being a victim of terrorism since 2001.

Partisans' Levels of Worry Has Changed Since 2015

In December 2015, Republicans and Republican-leaning independents registered significantly higher levels of worry than Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents about being a victim of both terrorism and a mass shooting. The latest data show that Democrats have become more worried (particularly about mass shootings), while Republicans have become less worried.

Party Differences in Levels of Worry About Mass Shootings and Terrorism
% Very/Somewhat worried that they or a family member will be a victim of each
December 2015 September 2019
% %
Terrorism
Republicans/Leaners 58 43
Democrats/Leaners 43 49
Mass shooting
Republicans/Leaners 46 25
Democrats/Leaners 32 62
2015 data for mass shootings are from Dec. 11-12 polling; and for terrorism, from Dec. 8-9 polling
GALLUP

This reversal in the views of partisans coincides with a change in the occupant of the White House. Gallup has noted similar shifts in the opinions of partisans across a wide range of topics between Barack Obama's and Donald Trump's presidencies.

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Gallup https://news.gallup.com/poll/267383/americans-equally-worried-mass-shooting-terrorism.aspx
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