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Americans Attention Shift From Gun Control

Americans Interest in Gun Control Drops

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Gun control, youth
A man wears an unloaded pistol during a pro gun-rights rally at the state capitol, Saturday, April 14, 2018, in Austin, Texas. Gun rights supporters rallied across the United States to counter a recent wave of student-led protests against gun violence. (AP Photo/Eric Gay) VOA

In the wake of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Feb. 14, many Americans said gun control was the most important issue facing the country.

That has changed, despite high profile events like school walk outs and the March for Our Lives protests.

A recent Gallup public opinion poll found those who think gun control is the most important issue dropped from 13 percent, a record, to six percent in just one month.

Now, more Americans think dissatisfaction with government (23 percent), immigration (11 percent) and race relations (seven percent) are all more important than gun control.

Person holding a gun
A person holding a gun. Pixabay

Gallup noted gun control interest spikes after shootings, but the “effects have tended to be temporary.”   But the polling organization said interest in the topic of gun control remains “elevated by historical standards,” adding that since 2001, it has been mentioned, on average, by one percent of Americans as the top problem in the U.S.

In the immediate aftermath of the 2012 shooting in Sandy Hook, four percent of Americans said gun control was the top issue, a jump from zero percent.  Gallup said it remained high for a “few months” and even got as high as seven percent, but when Congress did not pass gun control legislation, the percentage of Americans saying gun control as the top issue dropped back to zero.

Also Read: Fast Food Habits of Americans

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Gallup found Democrats were twice as likely to think gun violence is among the most important issues compared to Republicans by eight to four percent respectively.  Democrats also saw the biggest drop in those saying guns were the top problem, dropping by half in just one month.

The Parkland shooting did spur the House of Representatives to pass “The STOP School Violence Act“, which authorizes $50 million per year to fund initiatives and otheThe Parkland shooting did spur the House of Representatives to pass “The r training aimed at enhancing school safety.  The bill would also provide $25 million to make schools less vulnerable by adding metal detectors, better door locks and response technologies to allow schools to notify law enforcement about emergencies.

The April Gallup poll contacted 1,015 adults, aged 18 and older, in all 50 states and Washington D.C. between April 2-11.  The margin of error is plus or minus four percentage points.  VOA

Next Story

Gourmet Grubs Squirm Onto American Plate

Culinary director, Jeremy Kittelson, says Linger is committed to changing the American palate. “As much as we love beef,” he says, “there’s no scientist who will tell you cattle farming is a sustainable practice. We should eat more insects."

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Food
Andrew takes a tentative taste of baked, salted mealworm at Rocky Mountain Micro Ranch. VOA

A huge shipping container in the suburbs of Denver, Colorado, is the home of some of the nation’s smallest livestock. Rocky Mountain Micro Ranch is Colorado’s first and only edible insect farm, and one of fewer than three dozen companies in the U.S. growing insects as human food or animal feed.

Wendy Lu McGill started her company in 2015, and today grows nearly 275 kilos of crickets and mealworms every month. “I want to be part of trying to figure out how to feed ourselves better as we have less land and water and a hotter planet and more people to feed,” she explains.

Wendy Lu McGill raises mealworms and crickets to sell to restaurants and food manufacturers.
Wendy Lu McGill raises mealworms and crickets to sell to restaurants and food manufacturers.

Feeding the world’s appetite for protein through beef and even chicken is unsustainable, according to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization. Protein from bugs is more doable.

On the global menu

Edible insects are a great source of high quality protein and essential minerals such as calcium and iron. Edible grubs — insect larvae — offer all that, plus high quality fat, which is good for brain development.

Insects are part of the diet in many parts of the world. Analysts say the global edible insects market is poised to surpass $710 million by 2024, with some estimates as high as $1.2 billion. And while American consumers comprise a small percentage of that market today, there is growing demand for a variety of insect-infused products.

Thinking small

Amy Franklin is the founder of a non-profit called Farms for Orphans, which is working in the Democratic Republic of Congo. “What we do is farm bugs for food because in other countries where we work, they’re a really, really popular food,” she notes.

In Kinshasa’s markets, vendors sell platters of live wild-caught crickets plus big bowls of pulsating African Palm weevil larvae. These wild insects are only plentiful in certain seasons.

Farms for Orphans works with Congo Relief Mission, FAO in Kinshasa and the University of Kinshasa to set up small-scale palm weevil larvae farms to bring sustainable nutrition and economic empowerment to orphanages. (Courtesy: Farms for Orphans)
Farms for Orphans works with Congo Relief Mission, FAO in Kinshasa and the University of Kinshasa to set up small-scale palm weevil larvae farms to bring sustainable nutrition and economic empowerment to orphanages. (Courtesy: Farms for Orphans). VOA

Franklin’s group helps orphanages grow African Palm weevil larvae year round, in shipping containers. “Most of the orphanages don’t own any land. There really is no opportunity for them to grow a garden or to raise chickens. Insects are a protein source that they can grow in a very small space.”

Changing the American palate

It’s estimated that more than 2 billion people worldwide eat insects every day. And even though the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has confirmed that consumption of crickets and mealworms is safe and that they are a natural protein source, many Americans, like Denver grandfather Terry Koelling, remain skeptical. As he and his grandchildren take a tour of Rocky Mountain Micro Ranch, he admits, “I don’t think they are very appealing, as something to put in your mouth. You see them around dead things, and it just does not appeal to me to eat something that wild.”

Koelling gets adventurous at Linger, a Denver restaurant that has had an insect entree on its menu for three years.

Culinary director, Jeremy Kittelson, says Linger is committed to changing the American palate. “As much as we love beef,” he says, “there’s no scientist who will tell you cattle farming is a sustainable practice. We should eat more insects.”

Also Read: US Military Planes Deliver Aid to Venezuela-Colombia Border

And so Koelling takes a forkful of the Cricket Soba Noodle dish, with black ants, sesame seeds and crickets mixed in with green tea soba noodles, and garnished with Chapuline Crickets.

“The seasoning’s great!” he says with surprise, adding, “Seems to me there weren’t enough crickets in it!” (VOA)