The 2016 Chapman University Survey of American Fears asked more than 1,500 adults to choose the things that frighten them the most. Our forefathers wouldn’t be surprised at most of the results.
The No. 1 fear in the study was “corruption of government officials,” which was also the winner last year. More than 200 years ago during Virginia’s ratification of the Constitution—June 14, 1788, to be precise—George Mason explained one incident that partly prompted the Second Amendment and our right to bear arms. “[W]hen the resolution of enslaving America was formed in Great Britain, the British Parliament was advised by an artful man, who was governor of Pennsylvania, to disarm the people; that it was the best and most effectual way to enslave them; but that they should not do it openly, but weaken them, and let them sink gradually.” History is teaming with similar examples, including Nazi Germany.
“Terrorist attacks” came in second place among American fears and “being a victim of terror” scored number four. Americans have the right to defend themselves, including against terrorists, but even back in 1824 Thomas Jefferson—in a letter to Maj. John Cartwright about state constitutions and gun rights—made a statement still echoed today in reputable self-defense courses. “[A]ll power is inherent in the people; that they may exercise it by themselves, … or they may act by representatives, freely and equally chosen; that it is their right and duty to be at all times armed…”
Number five was “government restrictions on firearms and ammunition,” which broke the Top 10 list for the first time. The Second Amendment addresses it in one sentence. “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
The only unrelated fear that crept into the top five was lack of money for the future.