The man, in a pink polo shirt tucked into pressed khaki pants, held an AR-15-style rifle. His wife was more casually dressed and held a pistol. As marchers passed, they stood outside their restored 1909 mansion in defense of their house, estimated by Zillow to be worth nearly $1.7 million.
This sight of well-dressed homeowners emerging from an expensive house with firearms to stave off a peaceful protest appeared to strike many observers as incongruous. There are a slew of expectations about gun owners in the United States — rural hunters, suburban enthusiasts — but a pink-shirted lawyer emerging from a re-created Renaissance palazzo holding a long gun isn’t among them.
And yet, as a Post-ABC News poll from September makes clear, this combination of factors isn’t uncommon at all.
That poll dug into gun ownership in the United States and asked respondents whether anyone in their house owned a gun. Just under half of Americans said that they did, with majorities of men, whites and Southerners giving a yes answer. About half of respondents from the Midwest — into which Missouri falls, by most definitions — said that they lived in a home with a gun, too.
On other metrics, the couple would seem to diverge from the norm. They live in St. Louis, in a suburban-style neighborhood in an urban area. Both lawyers (as revealed by a later public statement), they both have graduate degrees and, one would expect, earn more than $100,000 a year. Urban residents and those with advanced degrees were least likely to live in gun households among education levels and type of community, according to our polling.
Wealthier respondents were less likely than middle-income earners to do so. But those numbers mask a more interesting detail: Wealthier Republicans and Republican-leaning independents were significantly more likely than poorer Republicans to live in a household with a gun. No party/income group was more likely to report living in a household with a gun than the wealthiest Republican leaners.
Analysis by the voter data firm L2 of public voter registration records matching the names of the couple suggests that they are most likely Republicans. (Missouri doesn’t require party affiliation when registering to vote.) The man has repeatedly donated to President Trump.
Through their own attorney, the couple released a statement about the incident.
“The peaceful protesters were not the subject of scorn or disdain” by the couple, it read. “To the contrary, they were expecting and supportive of the message of the protesters.” It was “actions of violence, destruction of property and acts of threatening aggression by a few individuals commingling with the peaceful protesters” that spurred their taking up arms.
The couple, the statement concluded, “want to make sure no one thinks less of [the Black Lives Matter movement], its message and the means it is employing to get its message out because of the actions of a few white individuals who tarnished a peaceful protest.”
Assuming the couple are Republican, that sentiment, too, isn’t as unusual as you might have expected. A Post-Schar School poll conducted several weeks ago found that most Republicans strongly or somewhat approve of the protests that have become common in the past month.