Gun Violence Now a Leading Factor in Americans Skipping Public Events

This week, the largest U.S. mass shooting occurred at a large public event in Las Vegas. Reports painted a terrifying picture of a lone gunman with multiple weapons shooting from a hotel window, killing dozens of people, and causing injuries to hundreds more. The debate over gun laws quickly jumped to the top of headlines as Americans tried to make sense of what happened.

concert public event

While that debate continues, the team at AYTM wanted to better understand how this type of violence affects people’s willingness to attend public events. A survey of 1,000 American adults (balanced by gender and age among AYTM’s proprietary consumer panel) shows that despite gun violence, Americans are resilient. However, they do support the use of metal detectors and other safety measures at public events.

Safety is a Common Concern at Public Events

Overall, 58% of Americans feel somewhat or very safe going to public events, with only one in three reporting that the threat of gun violence has prevented them from attending a public event in the past.

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Women are more likely to feel less safe at public events than men. While one in three men (66%) feel safe at public events, only half of women (50%) feel safe. Interestingly, even though fewer women feel safe at public events than men, they’re only slightly more likely than men to skip attending a public event because of safety concerns. In total, 31% of men who responded to the AYTM survey said the threat of gun violence had prevented them from attending a public event in the past compared to 34% of women.

AYTM broke up the results of its survey by age and discovered that feelings toward event safety didn’t differ much between age groups:

  • 18-24 years of age: 60% feel safe
  • 25-34 years of age: 59% feel safe
  • 35-44 years of age: 60% feel safe
  • 45-54 years of age: 56% feel safe
  • 65+ years of age: 54% feel safe

However, the threat of gun violence has prevented a larger number of young people than older people from attending public events in the past as shown in the chart below. Among 18 to 24 year olds, 46% have skipped public events because the threat of gun violence made them feel unsafe. The same is true of 39% of 25 to 34 year olds and 35% of 35 to 44 year olds. Among 45 to 54 year olds, only 28% have skipped public events due to gun violence compared to 31% of 55 to 64 year olds and 19% of people over 65 years of age.

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Americans Take Steps to Stay Safe at Public Events

When asked what steps Americans take to feel safer at public events, four out of five respondents (82%) said they stay very aware of their surroundings. In fact, this was the most common precaution taken by men, women, and respondents in all age groups. You can see the breakdown by gender and age in the charts below.

Safety at events chart 3

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Respondents to the AYTM survey were given the opportunity to provide their own responses to the question asking them what kinds of precautions they take to ensure their safety from gun violence at public events. Some of the most common responses included carrying a gun of their own, not attending public events or avoiding large groups, and making sure a clear exit is available. Some of those responses follow:

  • “I carry my own gun.”
  • “My husband has a conceal carry permit, and he makes me feel safe with his gun.”
  • “I carry my own gun to protect myself and others.”
  • “I make sure I am near a person that can protect me with a gun.”
  • “I look for escape routes.”
  • “I don’t go where there is no clear way out.”
  • “I never attend public gatherings.”
  • “I sometimes don’t go if I feel it could be unsafe.”

Americans Want Event Organizers and Venues to Do More to Keep People Safe

When asked what event organizers and venues should do to improve the safety of attendees at public events, the majority of respondents support the use of metal detectors. Overall, 74% of respondents want venues to use metal detectors. Slightly more women support the use of metal detectors (76%) than men (72%), but across all age groups, approximately three out of four people support metal detectors at public events. The breakdown is follows:

  • 18-24 years of age: 78% support the use of metal detectors
  • 25-34 years of age: 75% support the use of metal detectors
  • 35-44 years of age: 74% support the use of metal detectors
  • 45-54 years of age: 75% support the use of metal detectors
  • 65+ years of age: 73% support the use of metal detectors

More than half of all respondents also support the use of more police and security officers (61%) as well as requiring bag searches for everyone (53%).

The least popular protection method that respondents were asked if event venues should use to protect guests was banning bags entirely. Overall, 66% of respondents believe people should be allowed to bring bags to events. The same percentage of women and men (66%) agreed. However, older respondents are more likely to think venues should not allow bags than younger respondents. While 19% of respondents between the ages of 18 and 24 believe bags should not be allowed, more than twice as many people over the age of 65 (42%) believe bags should not be allowed.

The complete breakdown by age for each of the safety precautions respondents were asked about is shown in the chart below.

Safety at events chart 5

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AYTM asked respondents to share their own ideas for safety measures event organizers and venues could take to better protect guests. Some of the most common suggestions included revamping gun laws, allowing a larger number of responsible people to carry guns, and improving security in the areas surrounding public events. Some of those responses follow:

  • “The best thing is to limit guns. Everyone does not need a gun.”
  • “Enact sensible gun laws.”
  • “Do something about the gun laws. “
  • “Allow responsible gun owners to carry.”
  • “Have someone carry a gun.”
  • “Everybody carry a gun, and don’t be afraid to protect your family.”
  • “Better security surrounding the event.”
  • “Make sure surrounding areas are kept safe.”

School Events Are Not Immune to Safety Concerns

Tragedies at public events have also happened at school events. When AYTM asked respondents if they are concerned for the safety of their children at school events, 67% of people who have children said they are concerned.

Mothers are slightly more likely to be concerned (71%) than fathers (63%), and adults between the ages of 35 and 44 (19%) and 25 and 34 (16%) are most likely to be concerned, which makes sense since those are the most common age ranges for people to have school-aged children.

The Takeaway

In light of tragic recent events, it makes sense that people are questioning their safety at public events. Whose responsibility is it to keep people safe? Is it the government through revised gun laws? Is it event organizers and venues through increased security measures?

Based on the results to AYTM’s survey, Americans have different opinions on the subject, but more than four out of five Americans (83%) do share one thing in common. They don’t feel very safe at public events. Do you? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

You can see the full survey results in the widget below.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Susan Gunelius
Susan Gunelius, MBA is a 25-year marketing and branding expert and President and CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She is the author of 10 books about marketing, branding and social media, and her marketing-related articles appear on top media websites such as Entrepreneur.com and Forbes.com. She is also the Founder and Editor in Chief of WomenOnBusiness.com, an award-winning blog for business women.

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