Majority Have Positive View Of NRA

The National Rifle Association has taken some well deserved hits over its bungled response to the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, but a new poll indicates that a majority of the public still views the organization positively:

More Americans have a favorable view of the National Rifle Association than unfavorable, according to a Gallup poll out Thursday that was conducted during the rollout of a new NRA proposal to have armed guard in every school.

According to the poll, 54 percent of respondents had a favorable opinion of the group, while 38 percent said they have an unfavorable opinion. Those numbers have fluctuated since Gallup first polled on the question in 1993, but the nation’s largest gun lobby has commanded a favorable opinion for most of that time — hitting a low of 42 percent in 1994 and a high of 60 percent in 2005.

Gallup said the poll, conducted Dec. 19-22, came the same time Wayne LaPierre, the NRA’s executive vice president, publicly advocated for placing guards with guns at every school as a response to the Newtown, Conn., massacre. LaPierre first announced that proposal at a press conference on Dec. 21.

Among other things, I’d suggest that this is a reflection of the fact that there remains strong support in the country for gun rights and that support for this issue is reflected in support for the organization as a whole. It also suggests that any debate over future gun legislation is going to be far different from the relative ease with which the Assault Weapons Ban was passed in 1994.

FILED UNDER: Guns and Gun Control, Public Opinion Polls, US Politics, , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. superdestroyer says:

    When Diande Feinstein proposes to give local law enforcement the aility to approve all gun sales, it should be obvious that the left is pushing for gun bans in most large cities and in many blue states. As I said before, if the NRA did not exist, guns would have already been banned in the U.S. except for the private security of the elite.

  2. gVOR08 says:

    Another Low Information Voter phenomenon. People approve of the NRA of thirty years ago, an association of sportsmen promoting hunting and other traditional shooting sports, and providing marksmanship and gun safety training. It still does those things, but mostly it is now a trade association and lobbying organization for gun manufacturers and sellers. If people realized that, they might be less approving.

  3. Geek, Esq. says:

    This is still a nation of gun nuts. The best that we can do is to say “well, we’re gun nuts, but maybe not large ammo mag nuts.”

    280 million firearms in a nation of just over 300 million people makes incidents like Sandy Hook inevitable as a sheer numerical probability proposition. There are way too many guns, and it’s way too easy to get them, and there is nothing that’s going to change that absent a major change in our gun culture.

  4. gVOR08 says:

    @Geek, Esq.: We are a nation with a lot of gun nuts, who each own more and more guns. But we aren’t a nation of gun nuts. Twenty or thirty years ago over 50% of households owned a gun, now it’s just over 30%, and trending down. Speculation is that this is largely a generational thing, young people for the most part aren’t into guns. Also urbanization, end of the draft, loss of hunting opportunities, lower crime rates, and a growing number of female headed households. Like much of conservative politics, the NRA is largely fighting the 21st century.

  5. Rafer Janders says:

    I’d need to see the unskewed version of that poll before I can determine its accuracy…..

  6. NickTamere says:

    I used to have a somewhat favorable impression of the NRA; they used to be a less partisan, more safety and sportsman-oriented group but have since morphed into a GOP proxy composed of paranoid delusionals who oppose any and all restrictions. Working for a call center 15+ years ago where we monitored sales calls for subscription renewals lifted that veil from my eyes pretty quickly, for a group that demands precision & accuracy when discussing firearms they played fast and loose with facts when it came to the laws regulating them.

  7. Nikki says:

    @Rafer Janders: Agreed. It is Gallup, after all.

  8. stonetools says:

    On the other hand, , there’s this :

    A separate question included in the Dec. 19-22 survey asked Americans how often the NRA reflects their views about guns. Thirty-five percent say the NRA reflects their views always or most of the time — more than said so the two previous times Gallup asked the question, in 1996 and 1999.

    Sixty-one percent say that the NRA reflects their views only sometimes or never.

    Polls also show that even NRA members favor more restrictions on the sales of guns. I guess its which polls you pick-or cherry pick.

  9. matt says:

    @gVOR08: Wrong it’s over 47% and trending up.

    You gun control nutters are as delusional as the tea party and other right wing nuts. Facts don’t support your cause? Make up your own and problem solved.

    The devil is in the details though. I guarantee that the restrictions they support are not the restrictions that you want.

    Hell my plan has more restrictions on gun sales.

  10. Nikki says:
  11. NickTamere says:

    @matt: “trending up” depends on the time frame you’re looking at, here and here are other views of the same data. The general trend has been downward over the last 50 years with a big uptick in the last two. gVOR08 didn’t make up his/her own facts, something happened starting/in late 2010 that caused firearm ownership to spike drastically following a long slow decline.

  12. matt says:

    @Nikki: Assault weapon is a made up term that doesn’t have any real; definition. It’s no surprise to see a poll showing people don’t like assault weapon. I don’t think we should allow unrestricted sales of assault rifles (we don’t) and since assault weapon sounds similar I’m sure a great number of people didn’t notice the difference.

    @NickTamere: The link you provided is so full of factual errors that it’s not even worth considering.

    For example .

    Are you for or against a law which would make it illegal to manufacture, sell or possess semiautomatic guns known as assault rifles?

    There is NO such thing as a semi-automatic only assault rifle. The very concept of the definition of an assault rifle is that it’s a selective fire rifle (single fire and burst or full auto or in some cases all three). The rest of the piece is full of factual errors. If I thought for a moment you weren’t a gun control nutter and that you were actually sway-able by evidence I would bother to highlight all the errors. The fact is you’re just another gun control nutter who thinks an assault rifle is a semi-automatic hunting rifle with a pistol grip..

  13. matt says:

    The second name link was supposed to be nikki too.

    @NickTamere: I like how you cut the graph to stop before the upswing in ownership.. Reminds me of the climate change deniers…

  14. grumpy realist says:

    @matt: Look at how many people in the US get killed yearly by guns as opposed to, say, knives.

    Guns are dangerous. And we’re probably not going to do anything about it until NRA members have to start paying for the chaos they have let loose on the US, aided and abetted by Supreme Court Justices.

    How bad would the violence have to get before you admit that the 2nd Amendment isn’t the be-all and end-all of the Constitution? When a whole bunch of Al Qaeda types use those gun rights and loopholes that you are so ardently defending to plan and carry out shooting massacres every week?

    (Hell, I’m surprised that they’re still going for bombs and similar projects, considering what one can do with an easily-obtainable rifle.)

  15. matt says:

    @grumpy realist: 60% of all murders involved a gun of which the vast majority of murders involved a handgun. Following up in a distant second by shotguns and then an even farther distant third rifles. The demonized “assault weapon” aka “scary looking guns” made up a really tiny fraction of the rifle related murders. The other 40% of murders involved knives/bats/hands/poison/blunt objects. Our non gun related murder rate is extremely high compared to other countries so it doesn’t surprise me that our gun related murder rate is higher too.

    Of those killed with a gun the majority of them knew their murderer as either a friend/family or acquaintance. So what we get is a lot of drug/gang related murders being thrown in which will statistically never involve any of you.

  16. NickTamere says:

    @matt: did you even read my post? I didn’t make that chart, and I specifically said “a big uptick in the last two (years)” and “something happened starting/in late 2010 that caused firearm ownership to spike drastically”.

  17. matt says:


    I know quite a few heavy liberals who have started hunting here. Even my mom who used to be extremely anti-gun is looking at getting her first gun.

    I line up on the liberal side here on about any other subject. Just because I’m not scared of a tool and I rely on facts I’m suddenly a conservative or something..

    I believe the patriot act was a terrible idea. That copyrights are out of control. That we should of never invaded Iraq. That Afghanistan was a good idea at first with a terrible to non existent game plan for what to do after we disposed the Taliban. I believe gays should have the same rights as everyone. I believe the government should get out of the marriage business and leave that to the churches (civil unions for all). I believe that the drug war is a failure and is a leading cause in our issues with violence. I believe in legalization with heavy taxes to pay for treatment and education plans.

  18. matt says:

    I ran out of time to edit my post but you get the point.

  19. matt says:

    One of my solutions for our violence problem involves having a public option with strong mental health coverage.

  20. al-Ameda says:

    Guns don’t kill people, people with guns kill people.

    315 Million people, over 250 Million guns – it’s a public health problem. It’s virtually inevitable that we’re going to have periodic mass shootings a few times a year.

  21. Boyd says:

    @al-Ameda: And somehow, quite literally 99.98% of those guns never shoot anyone. I suppose they must all be defective or something.

  22. al-Ameda says:



    It’s virtually inevitable that we’re going to have periodic mass shootings a few times a year.

    I stand by that. We’re awash in guns and we have a cult of guns in this country. It’s too easy to obtain high powered weapons. We’re not at all serious about reducing the odds that mass killings will occur.