Mass Shootings and the Impacts to Emotional Health & Well-Being

Mass Shootings and the Impacts to Emotional Health & Well-Being

Key Findings

  • 2 out of every 3 respondents expressed disapproval of the government’s actions in addressing gun violence prevention, while 19% offered no comment on the issue.
  • 71% of respondents acknowledged that news coverage of gun violence increased their safety concerns in daily life. Among them, 42% of respondents characterized this impact as either “significant” or “extreme.”
  • 36% of respondents reported that fear of a mass shooting has prevented them from going to a public place or event.
  • 1 out of every 3 respondents noted the absence of a workplace response plan for mass shootings.
  • Generation Z is significantly more concerned about mass shootings at schools, with 48% expressing high levels of worry compared to just 6% of older adults.
  • 1 in 2 Americans believe that current mental health support systems are inadequate to address the trauma associated with gun violence.
  • 3 out 5 of respondents are somewhat confident in their local emergency services’ ability to effectively handle incidents of gun violence. 

The Broad Impact of Mass Shootings on Daily Life

The FBI defines mass shootings as “incidents where four or more murders occur during the same incident, without a distinctive time period between the murders.” The immediate trauma for those directly involved in mass shootings or any kind of gun violence is undeniable. And the results of our survey also paint a stark picture — an overwhelming 90% of respondents expressed worry about gun violence in their daily lives.

This article will explore mass shootings in the United States and the emotional toll they have on the health and well-being of Americans. We'll examine the complexities of these incidents, their widespread effects, and the strategies available for fostering resilience and supporting recovery. Let’s look at some of our findings below.


17% of respondents expressed safety concerns about the threat of mass shootings while at their workplace. This demonstrates at least some level of apprehension and unease among employees regarding their safety in such environments. Given the unpredictable nature of mass shootings and gun violence, this concern may simply not be at the forefront of employees’ minds, even if the threat is present.

That said, only 2 in 5 respondents reported being aware of and trained in implementing a mass shooting response plan at their workplace. This suggests a potential gap in preparedness and proactive measures against such incidents in many workplaces, whether employees are concerned about shootings or not.

Working professionals, in particular, face unique challenges in the aftermath of a shooting. The constant fear of gun violence can lead to increased anxiety and adverse effects on mental health.

Offering robust employee assistance programs (EAPs) can provide access to mental health professionals who can help employees cope with anxiety and trauma related to gun violence. Fostering a culture of open communication allows employees to feel comfortable expressing their concerns and seeking support. This is especially important because, according to our survey results, 4 out of 9 respondents do not discuss gun violence and safety measures within their households, often citing trauma as a barrier. That said, 54% of respondents stated that they had regular or occasional discussions about this topic. 


In 2018, it was reported that 28% of individuals who have witnessed a mass shooting develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), while roughly 30% experienced acute distress disorder. In a 2021 study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, researchers found that over 30% of adolescents reported feeling anxious or unsafe at school due to gun violence.

This constant undercurrent of fear can disrupt the very foundation of a healthy learning environment. Our survey reveals that concern levels about mass shootings during school years vary significantly across different age groups. Here's a breakdown:

Over 100,000 American children attended schools where a shooting occurred in 2018 and 2019. Students exposed to a mass shooting, whether directly or indirectly, experience a range of emotional and behavioral responses. Some common reactions include intrusive thoughts, increased anxiety, and fear, manifesting as hypervigilance and difficulty concentrating in school. Feelings of hopelessness, grief, and social withdrawal are also frequent, with students struggling to connect with others and experiencing changes in sleep patterns or nightmares.

 Academic decline and regression in behavior, like bedwetting or thumb-sucking in younger students, can also surface. Outbursts of anger or aggression may erupt as students grapple with managing their emotions. Offering positive activities such as group discussions, campus events, spiritual gatherings, or community service are all healthy opportunities to help students recognize and deal with their grief. 

Public Spaces and Events

A sobering statistic from our survey revealed that 36% of respondents admitted to avoiding public places or events due to fear of a mass shooting. Analysis shows that younger generations and women are more likely to report avoiding such spaces, highlighting varying levels of concern across different demographic groups.

This highlights a deeply concerning trend: the fear of tragedy not only impacts our emotional well-being, but it also actively alters our behavior and limits our engagement with the world around us. In addition, the majority of respondents indicated that news coverage of gun violence significantly increases their concern regarding safety in their daily environments, with over 70% rating the impact as moderate, significant, or extreme.

What Can Be Done About Mass Shootings?

Mass shootings are highly unpredictable events that affect various segments of the American population, and many people in the United States are affected by gun violence. In fact, each year, approximately 44,000 people are killed and 100,000 are injured due to gun violence. The causes behind these tragic incidents are multifaceted, ranging from individual mental health issues to societal factors and access to firearms. 

This complexity makes it challenging to devise a one-size-fits-all solution to prevent such occurrences effectively. Yet, a significant majority of our survey results, 7 out of 9 respondents, believe that the United States could prevent gun violence, at least in some amount, if it really wanted to.

There are actionable steps that individuals and lawmakers can consider to potentially reduce the frequency and mitigate the impact of mass shootings. These actions include but are not limited to:

  • Enhancing mental health support systems;
  • Implementing stricter gun control measures;
  • Improving threat assessment and crisis intervention strategies;
  • Fostering community resilience through education and awareness programs;
  • Addressing the root causes of violence;
  • Ensuring comprehensive background checks for firearm purchases;
  • Promoting responsible gun ownership.

By focusing on both prevention and preparedness, communities can work towards creating safer environments where the risk of such devastating events is minimized.


Properly-enacted legislation can play a pivotal role in addressing gun violence in the United States. A significant 2 out of every 3 respondents disapprove of the current U.S. government's handling of gun violence prevention, indicating widespread dissatisfaction with existing legislative efforts. Analysis by generational demographics reveals that, despite slight variations, this disapproval remains somewhat consistent among respondents of different age groups:

  • Age 18 to 24: 75%
  • Age 25 to 34: 64%
  • Age 35 to 44: 63%
  • Age 45 to 54: 68%
  • Age older than 54: 69%

Though the youngest respondents were most likely to express disapproval, the oldest respondents were the second most likely group to do so. 

Additionally, 71% of survey participants believe that stricter gun control laws have the potential to prevent gun violence. This sentiment underscores strong public demand for legislative measures aimed at curbing the prevalence of firearm-related incidents. 

This consensus highlights a pathway forward in addressing gun violence through legislative reforms that could enhance public safety and reduce firearm-related harm. And America does have a history of addressing gun control. The Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA) established a federal licensing system for firearms dealers and mandated background checks for most gun sales by licensed dealers. While the Firearm Owners' Protection Act of 1986 modified some provisions of the GCA, reinforcing its core tenets remains crucial.

The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993 introduced federal background checks and imposed a waiting period for handgun purchases, significantly preventing firearms from reaching prohibited individuals.

Finally, the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, in effect from 1994 to 2004, prohibited the manufacture and sale of certain semi-automatic firearms and high-capacity magazines. During the ban, deaths from mass shootings decreased significantly, and they rose again after the ban expired. Reinstating this ban could help reduce the frequency and lethality of mass shootings. During the 10 years when the federal assault weapons ban was in effect, the likelihood of mass shooting fatalities occurring was 70% lower compared to the periods before and after the ban.

Further measures like universal background checks and closing existing legal loopholes could also prevent firearms from reaching individuals who should not own them. A comprehensive approach that includes reinforcing existing laws and reinstating the Federal Assault Weapons Ban could effectively address mass shootings and gun violence in the U.S. 


Strong mental health support systems are a vital part of the solution; however, our survey found that a whopping 58% of respondents feel the current mental health infrastructure in the U.S. is inadequate for dealing with gun violence trauma. 

Interestingly, respondents from urban areas were significantly more likely to perceive the mental health infrastructure as insufficient compared to those from rural or suburban areas. This highlights geographical disparities in access to mental health resources and shows a critical gap in our ability to cope with the emotional aftermath of these tragedies.

Even those who weren't physically present during the shooting can be deeply impacted. Exposure to graphic news coverage, social media posts, or witnessing the emotional distress of loved ones can trigger anxiety, depression, and a heightened sense of fear. By prioritizing accessible and effective mental health services, we can equip individuals and communities with the tools they need to heal and move forward. This isn't just about individual well-being; it's about creating a more resilient society overall.

Staying Prepared

Having basic first aid skills enhances personal safety and contributes to reducing anxiety during emergencies. These skills empower individuals to respond effectively to injuries and medical emergencies. This ability can make a critical difference in saving lives or minimizing the severity of injuries before professional help arrives. By knowing how to apply basic first aid techniques like CPR, wound care, or managing fractures, individuals can take immediate action and provide essential care when needed most.

Staying prepared extends beyond personal readiness; it contributes to community resilience. When more people are trained in first aid, communities become safer and more resilient to emergencies. Each trained individual becomes a potential asset in providing immediate assistance, thereby enhancing emergency response capabilities. 


This report draws its conclusions from a survey conducted to assess public perceptions and attitudes toward gun violence in the United States. The survey was distributed to 1,000 respondents, who represented a diverse cross-section of the U.S. population. We aimed to capture a broad range of demographics — including respondents of different ages, genders, and geographic locations — to ensure representative insights. 

This diversity strengthens the generalizability of our findings and allows us to explore potential variations in experiences and concerns across different segments of the population.

Survey Design

The survey included a comprehensive set of questions designed to gauge respondents' concerns, opinions, and experiences related to mass shootings and gun violence. Participants were presented with a series of structured questions covering various aspects of their attitudes and behaviors, such as frequency of worry about gun violence, perceptions of media influence, government actions, support for gun control laws, personal impacts, and emergency preparedness.

We embraced Likert Scale, and the format presented participants with a statement followed by a scale with opposing endpoints (e. g.,"very" or "extremely" concerned). This allowed respondents to gauge their level of agreement or concern on a spectrum.

Additionally, open-ended questions invited participants to elaborate on their experiences and opinions in their own words. This format provided valuable in-depth details and allowed for the emergence of unforeseen themes not captured by closed-ended options.

Survey Questions

  • Demographic information: Age, gender, location (state, county), education, employment status, and household composition.
  • Perceptions and worries: Frequency of worry about mass shootings and gun violence, the impact of media coverage on safety concerns, and personal fears of experiencing gun violence.
  • Government and policy: Approval of government handling of gun violence prevention, beliefs about the effectiveness of stricter gun control laws, and confidence in government actions.
  • Personal experiences and behavioral changes: Personal experiences with mass shootings and gun violence, changes in daily routines due to safety concerns, and discussions within households about gun violence.
  • Mental health and support systems: Questions on perceived adequacy of mental health support systems related to gun violence trauma and the impact of social media on mental health.

The responses to these key questions, along with the corresponding demographic data, were analyzed using a variety of statistical methods. This process allowed us to identify trends, patterns, and relationships within the data. By segmenting the data based on demographics, we could also explore variations in experiences and concerns across different populations.

Data Analysis

The survey responses were analyzed quantitatively to identify trends, patterns, and correlations related to public perceptions and behaviors regarding gun violence. Responses were collected from individuals over the age of 18 across various states in the United States. Descriptive statistics such as frequencies and percentages were used to summarize responses to each survey question.


While efforts were made to obtain a diverse and representative sample, the survey results are based on self-reported data and may be subject to biases inherent in voluntary responses and online surveys. The findings should be interpreted within the context of these limitations. The self-reported nature of the data introduces a potential margin of error, as respondents' memories and perceptions can influence their answers.

Fair Use Policy

The findings and insights presented in this report are intended to be a springboard for productive conversations and collaborative efforts to address mass shootings and gun violence in the United States. We encourage the non-commercial use and dissemination of this information to raise awareness, inform policy discussions, and empower communities to work towards a safer future. When sharing information from this report, please include a link to this page.

This report, along with all its content and findings, is protected by copyright. However, under the fair use doctrine, you are permitted to share and reference this work for non-commercial purposes, such as educational presentations, news articles, or discussions on social media.