Fact-check: Has 1 in 5 Americans lost a family member to gun violence?

People place flowers and pay their respects at a memorial for victims of the Allen Premium Outlets mass shooting
People place flowers and pay their respects at a memorial for victims of the Allen Premium Outlets mass shooting   -  Copyright  Elias Valverde II/ 2022 Elias Valverde II / The Dallas Morning News
By Sophia Khatsenkova

A majority of Americans say they have a family member who has experienced gun violence, such as witnessing a shooting, being threatened by a person with a gun, or being shot, according to a new survey.

The second-deadliest US mass shooting of the year took place at a shopping mall on Saturday in a suburb of Texas where a gunman killed 8 people including children. 

At least 208 mass shootings have taken place in the US within the first five months of this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive. 

Mass shootings have escalated in recent years, reaching a record pace during 2023 with a minimum of one mass shooting a week, according to a database published by the Associated Press and USA Today. 

Just one week ago, US Vice President Kamala Harris tweeted: “One in five Americans knows someone who died because of gun violence. Leaders in Congress must have the courage to step up and pass common sense gun safety laws.”

But some are accusing Harris of peddling made-up statistics. The Cube took a closer look and found these numbers to be correct. 

Harris’ office claims this information comes from a recent survey published by the Kaiser Family Foundation. 

Conducted in March, the foundation interviewed more than 1,200 adults in the United States. 

The alarming results show that 19% of respondents – essentially 1 in 5 adults – said they had a family member who had been killed by a gun. This statistic also includes deaths by suicide. 

The poll also found more than 1 in 5 adults said they have been personally threatened with a gun. One in six said they have personally witnessed a shooting.

The results also revealed gun violence affects racial minorities at a far higher rate. Black adults are more than twice as likely as White adults to have lost a loved one to gun violence and to have personally witnessed someone being shot.

Another alarming statistic published by the CDC: in the past three years, guns became the leading cause of death among children and teens in the US, surpassing car accidents in 2020. 

In no other country are firearms within the top four causes of mortality among children, according to another recent analysis produced by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

However, these findings are only based on data from 2020 and 2021. There is no data published yet when it comes to the past two years.

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