NRA Poll: NRA Members Love the NRA

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Jan. 25 2013 11:27 AM

The NRA Wants You To Know That Its Members Are On Board With Its Message

A membership card for the National Rifle Association
A membership card for the National Rifle Association

Photo by Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images.

What do NRA members like? The NRA and its post-Newtown message. What don't they like? President Obama. At least that's the picture painted by the gun-rights group's new survey of its members.

The organization boasts a stunning 98 percent approval rating from its members. The fact that members of a self-selecting group like the group they've selected isn't exactly a shocker to anyone. Still, the intent of the survey seems to be to push back against the perception that NRA members don't necessarily support the entirely pro-guns message outlined by the NRA's Wayne LaPierre in his Dec. 21 press conference following the Newtown, Conn., school shootings.

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For example: 82 percent of the 1,000 members surveyed favor the NRA's proposal to put an armed security guard in every school, and 86 percent believe that "strengthening our laws regarding mental health records to keep all firearms out of the hands of the mentally ill" is the most effective way to reform gun access to prevent future mass shootings. That last one, presumably, refers back to LaPierre's call to create a national database of the mentally ill. Only 1.6 percent of members believe that a ban on assault rifles will help prevent future Newtowns.

Mother Jones flagged the poll, noting that, if it's even accurate, it corners NRA members as more extreme in their opinions than gun owners at large, at least compared with other surveys. They explain (emphasis ours):

A recent survey by the Pew Research Center finds widespread support among gun owners for some of the proposals shot down in the NRA survey. Some 90 percent of gun owners told Pew that they support keeping guns out of the hands of the mentally ill. But from there the two surveys split: Pew reports that 54 percent of gun owners support a ban on semiautomatic weapons, 49 percent support a ban on high-capacity clips, and 63 percent want more armed guards or police in schools. These numbers roughly line up with the responses from self-identified Republicans and men—who presumably make up the bulk of the NRA's members.

Meanwhile, members were pretty firm in their belief that, despite whatever Obama has said on gun control reform, his real intention is to "take away our 2nd Amendment rights." Nearly 80 percent of members don't believe that the president will pursue a "balanced" gun reform approach, which the survey sums up as "new gun laws, reforms to our mental health care system and addressing cultural issues like violence in movies and video games." Ninety-two percent of members are opposed to the president's use of executive actions in gun-reform work. His overall approval rating among NRA members is 4.5 percent.

Abby Ohlheiser is a Slate contributor.