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Half of American Adults Have Experienced Gun Violence

Tennessee’s Republican Gov. Bill Lee is calling for gun control legislation in the wake of another American shooting. New research helps paint a damning picture of U.S. gun violence.

A police officer walks by an entrance to The Covenant School on March 27


Tennessee’s Republican Gov. Bill Lee signed an executive order Tuesday strengthening background checks for gun purchases, while also calling on the state’s Republican-controlled legislature to pass so-called “red flag laws” that would allow authorities to take guns away from dangerous people.

“When there is a clear need for action, I think that we have an obligation to remind people that we should set aside politics and pride and accomplish something that the people of Tennessee want to get accomplished,” Lee told reporters at a news conference.

The order comes about two weeks after three children and three adults were obliterated by a gunman who fired 152 rounds from an AR-15 style rifle at The Covenant School in Nashville.

It also came the same day a new survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation found over half (54%) of U.S. adults say they or a family member have experienced some type of gun violence.

  • Kaiser found 21% of U.S. adults say they’ve been threatened with a gun, while similar shares say they have a family member who was killed by a gun (including suicide) (19%) and have personally witnessed someone being shot (17%).

  • Smaller shares report using a gun in self-defense (4%) or being injured in a shooting (4%).

The survey also found 84% of adults have taken at least one precaution to protect themselves from gun violence, including 58% who report talking to their children or family members about gun safety.

Why it matters:

Kaiser’s survey shows about one in five American adults have experienced some sort of gun violence in their life, including actually being threatened with one.

Do Republican lawmakers understand how deplorable that is? One out of every five of us has experienced an incident like being threatened with a gun, watching someone get shot, or dealing with the death of a loved one.

One in five adults is a devastating figure and, truthfully, an embarrassing one.

That’s more than the percentage of adults who report using cannabis (16%). Or have a speeding ticket on their record (11%). Or have Alzheimer’s disease (2%). All things we take measures as society to address.

It’s also certainly more than the 1% of Americans who identify as transgender, though that hasn’t stopped Republican legislators from targeting them with a record number of anti-LGBTQ bills.

And it helps contextualize the fact that firearms are now the leading cause of death for American children and teens, while not ranking higher than fifth in any of our peer nations.

Kudos to Gov. Lee for having the political will to take some sort of action on gun control (even though he can and should do more), but we’ll see what his colleagues in the state legislature say and how right-wing media will spin the next mass shooting.

If you find yourself in a debate with someone opposing gun control legislation, here are three facts you can use to shut them down.

Read this post on Medium here.