New Poll has Very Bad News for the NRA

by Alyson Chadwick –

While it may not come as much of a surprise that the leadership at the National Rifle Association (NRA) has a different opinion on gun control than the average American, what is surprising is that same leadership holds a different opinion than the American gun owner. According to a new poll, at least 67 percent of gun owners in the United States believe that the organization has changed its mission from one promoting gun safety to one dominated by professional lobbyists. They say the NRA has been “overtaken by lobbyists and the interests of gun manufacturers and lost its original purpose and mission.”

The NRA of today looks very different from what it looked like before. In fact, for most of its history, it supported, and even wrote, gun control legislation. Adam Winkler, author of Gunfight: the Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America, wrote, “Historically, the leadership of the NRA was more open-minded about gun control than someone familiar with the modern NRA might imagine.”

To understand the relationship the NRA has with gun control. It may help to look at who and why it was founded. After the Civil War, many people in the North believed that people in the South possessed superior skills in the area of using rifles. They blamed that for the length of the war. The national slogan for the NRA was, “Firearms Safety Education, Marksmanship Training, Shooting for Recreation.” Its main goal was to improve men’s marksmanship, not ward off threats to the Second Amendment. The organization was founded in 1871.

That effort didn’t start until the 1970s. In 1934, the nation saw its first piece of gun control legislation signed into law. The National Firearms Act of 1934 was designed to “make it difficult for any not law-abiding citizen to obtain a pistol or revolver.” It was authored, in part, by the NRA. They also helped write the Gun Control Act of 1938.

When these bills were written and signed into law, Karl T. Frederick was president of the NRA. He said, “I have never believed in the general practice of carrying weapons. I do not believe in the general promiscuous toting of guns. I think it should be sharply restricted and only under licenses.”

For about a century, the NRA’s motto remained the same. Then the 1960s happened. With the unrest of the assassinations and the rise of the Black Panthers, The Mulford Act was passed in California. It barred people from carrying loaded weapons around outside. While it was supported by the NRA, the backlash that it spurred also galvanized a new wave of gun support. About a decade after the act was signed into law, a group of gun rights supporters took over the NRA. They ousted the leadership and changed the motto to, “The Right Of The People To Keep And Bear Arms Shall Not Be Infringed.”

Since then, the NRA has opposed many measures that have had widespread support from the American public. In poll after poll, people say they want people who buy guns to pass background checks, they want to limit the capacity of rifles and they support common sense gun control legislation. Even Supreme Court Justice Anontin Scalia supported limiting some of this. In his Heller v. DC decision, Scalia wrote, “Nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.”

New data show more support for gun control from gun owners. While the NRA leadership says one thing, the average gun owner thinks another. A few years ago, Wayne LaPierre, NRA chief, said, “The only thing that can stop a bad man with a gun is a good man with a gun.” This is the response from gun owners to that new poll.

  • 88% say people should need a permit to carry concealed weapons.
  • 86% think people convicted of stalking or domestic violence should not be allowed to own a gun.
  • 85% want people on the federal terror watch or no fly lists to not be allowed to buy a gun.
  • 80% say they support background checks. This includes online sales and sales at gun shows.
  • 60% don’t want guns in schools.

For its part, the NRA is disputing the accuracy of the poll. Jennifer Baker, spokesperson for the NRA said, “The NRA’s strength is derived from our five million members and the tens of millions of Second Amendment supporters who vote. The majority of Americans oppose gun control and they made their voices heard this past November. This was a poll paid for by a gun control group, so it’s not surprising that the so called ‘results’ further their agenda.”

Public Policy Polling conducted the poll between April 19 and 20. It included 661 people who own guns. The margin of error is four percentage points. Americans for Responsible Solutions commissioned the poll.


Reprinted with permission from Addicting Info