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Leon Kaye headshot

As the Gun Violence Debate Continues, More Data Suggests Brands Should Take Stands

By Leon Kaye

As we have recently covered here on TriplePundit, last month’s tragedy in Florida has compelled many companies to take a stand on gun violence. The definition of corporate social responsibility is evolving rapidly - no longer is this movement solely about tabulating a company’s greenhouse gas emissions or improving supply chain transparency.

The debate will continue to rage and citizens will continue to yell at the TV screen based on who the talking heads are on Fox News or MSNBC. But some evidence suggests the debate does not even matter. More data suggests that when it comes to gun violence, consumers are becoming more comfortable with companies and brands taking a stand on this controversy.

According to the research firm Morning Consult, 58 percent of adults polled agree that it is appropriate for brands to wade into the gun control debate. Only one-third of respondents disagreed, with less than 10 percent undecided.

The survey polled 2,200 adults, who were interviewed via an online survey. Morning Consult said the data were weighted to represent a sample of U.S. adults based on age, race or ethnicity, gender, educational level, and the region in which they live.

It is no surprise that almost three-fourths of the respondents who identified as Democrats side with brands taking stands on gun control. Political independents’ sympathies almost mirrored the overall survey pool, agreeing at a rate of 53 percent versus 34 percent who disagreed.

But even amongst self-identified Republicans, there was a split: 46 percent of them agreed with the statement that they were comfortable with brands taking a stand on gun violence; 47 percent disagreed.

Of course, semantics can make a difference in how people respond when polled - far more American sided with efforts to work on “gun violence prevention” than “gun control.” And this is only one survey, even if its respondent pool is perfectly weighed.

Yet brands must keep in mind that the response to any and all policy changes will vary. Morning Consult’s data suggested that after MetLife announced the end of its NRA discount, its overall favorability perception rating ticked upward. Delta, however, faced an overall downward trend in the wake of the controversy over ending its NRA discount and the response of the Georgia State Legislature. Dick’s Sporting Goods witnessed its perception rise or fall based on political affiliation. Meanwhile, Walmart saw its positive sentiment rise across the political divide shortly after it announced that gun buyers would have to be at least 21 years old.

As with any hot-button issue, the challenge companies will continue to face on problems such as gun violence will rest on how well such policy changes are communicated. Nevertheless, insists Morning Consult, 71 percent of its survey respondents said taking stands on social issues, period, is important - whether they are environmental sustainability, gender or LGBT equality or health care access. What is clear is that staying silent or “neutral” is no longer an option.

Image credit: Lorie Shaull/Flickr

Leon Kaye headshot

Leon Kaye has written for 3p since 2010 and become executive editor in 2018. His previous work includes writing for the Guardian as well as other online and print publications. In addition, he's worked in sales executive roles within technology and financial research companies, as well as for a public relations firm, for which he consulted with one of the globe’s leading sustainability initiatives. Currently living in Central California, he’s traveled to 70-plus countries and has lived and worked in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay.

Leon’s an alum of Fresno State, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California's Marshall Business School. He enjoys traveling abroad as well as exploring California’s Central Coast and the Sierra Nevadas.

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