On Monday, a poll, conducted by Huffington Post and YouGov, was released. The poll asked Americans their feelings about open-carry gun laws and whether or not they were comfortable with armed customers in shops and restaurants. This poll is coming on the heels of recent stories of gun activists in Texas openly carrying assault rifles into restaurants. Last month, Mother Jones posted videos that showed members of the activist group Open Carry Texas entering both a Chili’s and a Sonic Drive-In with assault rifles and being refused service. The videos also showed irate customers who were appalled at the group’s actions. Due to the actions of Open Carry Texas and other like-minded ‘activist’ groups, seven national restaurant chains have decided to ban all openly carried weapons from their premises.
The poll reveals that a large majority of Americans do not want their fellow patrons to be armed when shopping in a store or eating in a restaurant. 55% of those polled supported bans from shops and restaurants on guns, while only 32% felt that customers should be allowed to carry on the premises. 13% were not sure how they felt about the issue. Even more people, 61%, expressed approval of the restaurant chain Chipotle’s decision to ask its customers to not bring guns into their restaurants, even if the restaurants are located in open carry states. Only 32% disagreed with the chain’s decision.
Now, while the poll was first released this Monday, the poll was actually conducted May 20th and May 21st. Therefore, the videos from Chili’s and Sonic hadn’t made the rounds yet publicly. Also, the mass shooting in Isla Vista had not yet occurred. It is very possible that if this poll was conducted today, we’d see an even more lopsided result in favor of gun restrictions in public places.
With gun advocates doing foolish things and making idiotic statements (I’m looking at you, Joe the Plumber), even the NRA has spoken out against its most loyal and fervent supporters and asked them to cool their jets. Over this past weekend, the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action released the following statement condemning the actions of Open Carry Texas and asking that these gun advocacy groups not go out and act “downright weird.”
Recently, demonstrators have been showing up in various public places, including coffee shops and fast food restaurants, openly toting a variety of tactical long guns. Unlicensed open carry of handguns is legal in about half the U.S. states, and it is relatively common and uncontroversial in some places.
Yet while unlicensed open carry of long guns is also typically legal in most places, it is a rare sight to see someone sidle up next to you in line for lunch with a 7.62 rifle slung across his chest, much less a whole gaggle of folks descending on the same public venue with similar arms.
Let’s not mince words, not only is it rare, it’s downright weird and certainly not a practical way to go normally about your business while being prepared to defend yourself. To those who are not acquainted with the dubious practice of using public displays of firearms as a means to draw attention to oneself or one’s cause, it can be downright scary. It makes folks who might normally be perfectly open-minded about firearms feel uncomfortable and question the motives of pro-gun advocates.
As you can see, the NRA is terrified that these gun nuts will bring about a reversal of all of the deregulation and loosened gun laws that the NRA has worked so hard for these past few years. While they don’t want to outwardly offend these so-called activists, as they are their most loyal members and make the NRA’s real masters, the gun and ammo manufacturers, extremely happy as they are the biggest consumers of their products, they don’t want public sentiment to shift all the way over to legitimate gun restrictions, laws and regulations. They’ve worked far too hard and greased way too many palms to let the crazies (who likely make up a very large portion of their membership) ruin it for them.
However, it might be too late for the NRA and its conservative supporters. The perfect storm of another mass shooting, a bereaved father who is determined to get something done, asinine comments from conservative whack jobs and videos of gun nuts walking around carrying assault rifles may just be too much for the NRA to overcome this time around. The fact is, while gun and ammo sales continue to skyrocket, the large majority of households in this country do not even have a firearm in the home. This latest poll showed that only 22% of the respondents actually own a gun, with an additional 16% saying that a member of their household owns a firearm.
In March 2013, a poll from the General Social Survey revealed that the number of households that owned guns had fallen from 50% in the 1970s to 34% by 2012. However, we see gun and ammo sales increasing year by year. Therefore, what we are seeing is fewer people owning guns than in the past, yet those fewer people are now owning more and more guns. Essentially, if you are a gunowner, it is likely you own multiple firearms. Basically, the NRA and Republicans are appealing to group that is getting smaller and smaller as the years go by. However, that group is extremely engaged and energized come election time due to the fetishistic nature of their gun ownership.
For a long time, non-gunowners have not been extremely engaged when it comes to gun laws and restrictions as these weren’t really a high priority for them. However, with mass shootings becoming the norm, and gun nuts terrifying everyday citizens, it’s possible that the tide has finally turned against the NRA and gun manufacturers. They’ve pushed for fewer and fewer regulations so they can continue to make more and more money off of their gun-crazed base. Now, it appears that their loyal customer base might be the reason common-sense gun laws finally get passed in this country, much to their dismay.
Image courtesy of Talking Points Memo