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(MENLO PARK, Calif.) — One in five Americans personally know a victim of gun violence, and 42 percent of Americans say that they are at least somewhat worried about becoming victims themselves, according to a new Kaiser Health Tracking Survey.

The poll comes out as gun-control has reestablished itself as a major political issue in the wake of the mass shooting in Newtown, Conn.

Of the 20 percent of Americans who know a victim of gun violence, a majority indicated that it was someone close to them; a good friend, family member, or even the respondent themselves.

Certain demographics are more likely to be exposed to gun violence than others.

“That number actually rises quite a bit when you talk about African-Americans or young people,” said Kaiser’s Mollyann Brodie. “So about four in ten blacks and about 28 percent of young people say that they know a victim of gun violence.”

While 30 percent of whites responded said that they were worried about becoming victims themselves, the numbers are again higher with certain groups. “Fully three quarters of Hispanics and six in 10 Blacks are very worried about being a victim of gun violence,” said Brodie.

The poll also surveyed attitudes and perceived discrimination towards those with mental health issues. Nearly half of the public said they would feel at least somewhat uncomfortable living next to a person with mental health issues, and two-thirds of parents objected to having “a person with a serious mental illness” work at their child’s school.

Three-quarters of Americans believed that individuals with mental health issues experience “a lot” or “some” discrimination. Only immigrants were more likely to be perceived as facing discrimination.

The study suggests that these numbers have gone up in the wake of Newtown.

“People believe that people with mental health illnesses do actually face considerable prejudice and discrimination,” said Brodie.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


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