CHICAGO (Reuters) - Most Americans maintain a favorable view of the National Rifle Association despite criticism and a presidential rebuke of the gun lobby after a massacre in Oregon this month, Gallup said on Thursday.
The NRA is viewed favorably by 58 percent of Americans, Gallup said. That compares with 54 percent after the December 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, and is just 2 points below its highest showing in Gallup polls since 1989.
Another poll by Gallup, released earlier this week, showed 55 percent of Americans prefer tighter regulations on gun sales, something the NRA generally opposes. Pro-gun groups say increased background checks for gun buyers could infringe on Second Amendment rights to keep and bear arms.
After a gunman shot dead nine people at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, and was himself killed by police on Oct. 1, President Barack Obama angrily said the country had made a "political choice" to allow mass shootings and condemned the NRA for blocking reform of U.S. gun laws.
"Somehow this has become routine," Obama said. "We've become numb to this."
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has said she wants to build a "national movement" to counter the influence of the NRA. Clinton said she would pursue expanded background checks and take steps to hold manufacturers accountable for crimes committed with their weapons.
The NRA, the top U.S. gun-rights advocacy group, spent $28 million during the 2014 election cycle to pay for communications promoting the right to bear arms and the candidates who support it and against candidate who favor restrictions, according to OpenSecrets.org.
Conservatives and gun owners lead in backing the NRA, according to the nationwide Gallup poll of 1,015 adults, conducted by telephone from Oct. 7 to 11. The margin of error was plus or minus 4 percentage points.
The highest percentage of support for NRA was in 2005, when 60 percent viewed the organization favorably, and the lowest was 42 percent in June 1995, Gallup said. At that time, Gallup said, the NRA sent a letter to possible donors calling federal law enforcement agents "jack-booted government thugs" after the deadly confrontation with the "Branch Davidians" sect in Waco, Texas, in 1993.
(Reporting by Suzannah Gonzales; Editing by Fiona Ortiz and Mohammad Zargham)