Gun Poll: Americans Oppose and Feel Unsafe with Open Carry


WASHINGTON --- A majority of Americans oppose people carrying loaded guns openly in public. More feel unsafe than feel safer - and a third feel much less safe with that knowledge, according to a poll conducted for the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence by respected polling firm Lake Research Partners.

“Politicians who are doing the bidding of the gun lobby, and businesses who worry about offending gun rights extremists, should look at this data and be aware that there is potentially a large price to pay with voters and customers alike,” said Paul Helmke, President of the Brady Center.  “Having more guns in public places not only puts more people at risk, it clearly makes people feel less safe.”

“We found strong negative reactions to more guns in public - both carried openly and concealed - among many key voting blocks, and stronger-than expected concerns about some of these policies among gun owners,” said Celinda Lake, President of Lake Research Partners. 

There is a sizable gender gap in the polling data, with 63 percent of women feeling less safe with allowing open carry. The gap, of 49 points between men and women, represents “one of the largest divides seen on current issues,” researchers report. Voters who were identified as people of color also “solidly and intensively” oppose allowing open carry.

The poll of 600 registered voters was conducted April 26-28, and carries a margin of error of plus or minus four percent.  Among the findings:

·     Fifty-two percent oppose allowing people in general, not just those connected to law enforcement, to carry loaded guns openly in public;

·     Fifty percent of voters feel less safe knowing that people not connected to law enforcement can carry guns in public, while 38 percent feel more safe.

·     A majority - 51 percent of those polled - said they were less likely to vote for a candidate who makes it easier for people to carry loaded guns in public, compared to 27 percent who were more likely to support such a candidate. Fully 63 percent of women said they were less likely to vote for a candidate who makes it easier to carry guns in public.

·     Women across all groups oppose open carry broadly - 76 percent of women of color, 68 percent of urban women and older women, 59 percent of suburban women 55 percent of younger women and a majority of rural women.

·     A similar majority - 56 percent of those polled - favor Starbucks and other retail establishments establishing strict “no guns” policies for their businesses - and far more gun owners support a “no guns” policy for Starbucks than believe Starbucks and other businesses should allow firearms on their premises.

·     When it comes to concealed weapons, 57 percent of respondents said they felt less safe knowing people can carry loaded, concealed guns in public.  Fully 39 percent of respondents said they felt much less safe knowing that people may be carrying concealed, loaded weapons.

Brady Center Vice President for Law and Policy Dennis Henigan will present further data from the poll at a press conference tomorrow (Thursday, May 13) in Seattle, where the Starbucks Coffee Company is based.  And Helmke, the Brady President, will speak to news media in Charlotte, North Carolina Friday, the site of the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting featuring speakers including Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich.  More data is at:

and more will be added to the website on Thursday and Friday after those press briefings. 

The Seattle press conference will be at 10 AM Thursday at the Washington Athletic Club in Seattle, 1325 Sixth Avenue.  The time and location of the Friday discussion of polling data by Paul Helmke will be announced shortly. 

The Brady Campaign launched a petition online in February, in partnership with CREDO Action, asking Americans to urge Starbucks to bar guns from its stores.  So far more than 35,000 have signed. The Brady Campaign has also posted videos related to the issue. View them at

More information about “open carry,” including which states allow it, is at


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