Poll Reveals Gun Support, Shifting Attitudes

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It’s finally here. The month we learn who will be the next President of the United States. Most, if not all of us, are suffering from an acute case of MWDAPCFS — Mud Wrestling Disguised As Political Campaigning Fatigue Syndrome.

While the national elections have gripped our attention, there are crucial battles being fought in numerous states, major cities and even small communities. Regardless of who the next president is these battles will increase in number.

It’s vital for those of us in the industry to realize there is an important shift underway in our customer base. Many Americans who own firearms and fervently support the Second Amendment don’t always support our initiatives. And many of these voters are strong influencers in their communities.

The most recent Pew Research Center poll reveals just how passionate Americans are about critical firearm-related issues that impact the firearms industry.

Protecting Gun Rights

On Aug. 26, Pew released the survey: “Opinions on Gun Policy and the 2016 Campaign.” Conducted August 9–16, Pew surveyed 2,010 adults. Of those, 1,567 are registered voters.

The poll reveals the number of U.S. households with firearms is up 5 percent from last year, with 44 percent answering “yes” and 51 indicating “no.”

A 5 percent increase may not seem significant, but the boost came during an up-tempo of attacks on the Second Amendment, overall gun-bashing and threats of more gun restrictions.

An increase in “gun in household” during the past year is a welcome addition to the market base. But more significant, it’s an important indicator of how Americans view gun ownership, despite the attacks on many fronts.

The poll also reveals favorable indicators on how Americans view protecting the right to own firearms vs. gun control, and their position on guns for protection vs. putting them at risk.

The majority of those surveyed (52%), believe it’s more important to protect the right of Americans to own firearms, as compared to 46 percent who favor controlling gun ownership. The 52 percent mark is the highest ranking achieved for this Pew poll.

Of those surveyed who identified themselves as “Trump Supporters,” 90 percent believe protecting gun rights is important, while 9 percent prefer gun control.

Not surprising, 79 percent of “Clinton Supporters” say controlling guns is more important, with 19 percent of her supporters favoring protecting gun rights. It’s important to note the 79 percent is higher than during the last four presidential campaigns.

In the area of whether firearms protect or endanger the public, a majority of those surveyed, 58 percent, say gun ownership “protects people from crime,” while 37 percent believe it “does more to endanger personal safety.”

Eighty-nine percent of Trump Supporters indicate gun ownership provides protection, while just 9 percent say it puts people at risk. Sixty-five percent of Clinton Supporters believe guns present a risk, with 32 percent saying firearms provide protection.

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Many Americans who own firearms and fervently support the Second
Amendment don’t always support our initiatives.

Mixed Support

The expansion of background checks is one of the key goals of the anti-gun movement. Pew reports 81 percent of those surveyed support “Background checks for private and gun show sales.” Ninety percent of Clinton Supporters favor the issue, as do 75 percent of Trump Supporters.

Overall support for “Creating a federal database to track gun sales” (which translates to gun registration) continues as a strong issue: 68 percent in favor vs. 30 percent opposed. Eighty-five percent of Clinton Supporters favor the database, while 46 percent of Trump Supporters say they support the measure.

Pew reports 52 percent of Americans favor a “Ban on assault-style weapons.” This is a drop from 57 percent and the lowest for this issue in this poll. Seventy-four percent of Clinton Supporters support the ban, as do 34 percent of Trump Supporters.

Overall support for a “Ban on high-capacity ammunition clips” has also dropped — from 53 percent in the last poll to 50 percent this year. Clinton Supporters favor the ban at a 74 percent margin, compared to a 34 percent approval from Trump Supporters.

New Demographic

The volatility of the gun issue during this presidential election has been revealing. The clear lines of “who is with us” as an industry have been and continue to be blurred.

At the same time our consumer base, while growing, is also changing. Today, those who own firearms may not always embrace our core values or vote with us in key gun issues nationally or in our states and communities. For example, in the Pew poll, while 90 percent of Trump Supporters favor gun rights over gun control, 75 percent of them also support expanded background checks.

Learning how to communicate with this new demographic, beyond selling them another firearm, is essential to our success regardless of who is sworn in as the president in January.

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