Gun control activists have demonized the organization, anti-gun rights groups have held protests against them, President Obama has accused them of wielding too much political power and Hillary Clinton has compared them to terrorists. Yet, the National Rifle Association still has the support of the American majority.
Yet in a Gallup poll from Oct. 7-11, a solid majority of Americans (58%) say they have an overall favorable impression of the NRA. This includes the highest recording of "very favorable" opinions (26%) since Gallup began asking this question in 1989. In December 2012, soon after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, 54% of Americans had a favorable impression of the NRA. The highest percentage in Gallup's 26-year trend was in 2005, when 60% of Americans viewed the organization favorably.
These numbers are especially significant considering the mass shootings that occurred this past year. Umpqua Community College, Charleston, Chattanooga and WDBJ are just a few of the schools and communities that were rocked by tragedy. An even more somber statistic comes from The Washington Post: In 2015, 294 mass shootings have occurred in the last 274 days.
Anti-gun politicians moved quickly to exploit these tragedies. Time and again, they blamed the NRA for putting guns in the hands of criminals and, of course, called for stricter gun control legislation.
Americans didn’t take their rhetoric seriously, as the Gallup poll proves. They know anti-gun laws don’t stop murderers from murdering, nor do gun-free zones scare them away. Guns in the pockets of responsible owners, however, that can be pretty intimidating.
The NRA is 5 million members strong, as of 2013. They know and recognize the dangers of mishandling firearms, yet believe that they are important tools of self-defense.
As many have noted, no mass shootings have been tallied at NRA conventions.