Four years ago, “fear of mass shootings” did not even appear on the American Psychological Association’s annual survey of things that stress out Americans. Now, however, it has become the single biggest stressor in their lives, according to the most recent sampling by the APA.
Slightly more than seven out of 10 respondents said they fear gun massacres, up from 62 percent last year. One of the reasons for the big jump may be the timing of the poll. The monthlong survey had just begun when two mass shootings, in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, left a total of 32 people dead.
Further evidence that these massacres had a direct impact can be found in the demographic breakdown of the poll. Hispanics, who were specifically targeted by the shooter in El Paso, were most likely (84 percent) to rank mass shootings as a major source of stress. They were followed by other minorities, while white Americans were least likely to list mass shootings as a stressor.
However, the two massacres alone do not explain why fear of violence now tops the list of things Americans are personally concerned about.