April 24, 2014

5 facts about the NRA and guns in America

The National Rifle Association, one of the most politically powerful advocacy groups in the U.S., begins its annual convention today in Indianapolis, featuring a lineup of Republican governors and senators as speakers and also a planned rally. NRA Vice President Wayne LaPierre said the organization, with its focus on protecting rights of gun owners, had more than 5 million members last May, although such claims in the past by the group had been questioned by the Washington Post’s “Fact Checker” blog.

Here are five facts related to the NRA and the issue of gun rights and gun control:

1The reasons Americans give for owning funsJust as the NRA’s focus has shifted over time from its start as an organization focused on training and marksmanship to one that is a major player in the battle over gun control, the reasons why Americans own guns also have changed. About half (48%) of gun owners said the main reason they owned a gun was for protection, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in February 2013. About three-in-ten (32%) said they owned a gun for hunting. That was a turnaround from 1999 when 49% said they owned a gun for hunting and 26% said they had a gun for protection in an ABC News/Washington Post poll. 

2Views of U.S. public about the influence of the National Rifle Association (NRA) on gun legislationDespite the NRA’s reputation as a formidable opponent of gun control laws, the public is divided over whether the organization exerts too much influence over whether such laws are passed or not. While 39% held the view that the NRA exerted too much influence, 35% said it was the right amount and 18% said it was too little, according to a survey we conducted last May. An ABC News/Washington Post poll, also conducted last May, found similar results.

3Gun supporters are more politically engaged than gun opponents. Our May 2013 survey found that there was a substantial gap when it came to political involvement between gun control supporters and gun rights advocates, whether NRA members or others. A quarter of those who prioritized gun rights said they had, at some point, contributed money to an organization that took a position on the issue, compared with 6% of gun control supporters. There was less of a gap on other activities, such as contacting public officials or expressing opinions on social media. But when all those activities were combined, gun rights proponents outnumbered gun control supporters by 45% to 26% when it came to those who said they were involved in one or more instances of activism.

4NRA households favor gun rights but also background checksAlthough a measure to expand background checks on gun sales failed in the Senate last year, Americans who live in a household where they or someone else is an NRA member overwhelmingly favored the idea of making private gun sales and sales at gun shows subject to such checks. About three-quarters (74%) backed these expanded checks compared with 26% who opposed them. But far fewer people in NRA households supported proposed bans on assault-style weapons or high-capacity ammunition clips.

5How widespread is gun ownership? Our February 2013 survey found that 37% of adults reported having a gun in their household, with 24% saying they personally owned the gun and 13% saying it was owned by someone else in their home. The survey also found that 58% of people who did not have a gun in their household said that having a gun would make them feel uncomfortable.

Category: 5 Facts

Topics: Domestic Affairs and Policy, Gun Control

  1. Photo of Bruce Drake

    is a Senior Editor at the Pew Research Center.

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45 Comments

  1. ntpasaoljr_61@yahoo.com1 month ago

    It’s just a tool. One way of how to kill or to die. It’s just a tool.

    Reply
  2. Chazim762 months ago

    As for the first one the NRA is still number one with the Eddy Eagle program in training people on how to use a firearm. They have plenty of NRA instructors that teach people around America on how to use a firearm safely and advanced techniques. They even have a DVD series you can get.

    Reply
    1. Scott1 month ago

      You do realize…those “NRA” instructors are actually paying for that supposed certification since it does nothing more than make the NRA and the instructor look good? As a result, the certification itself means…nothing. I can get certified by the NRA tomorrow for gun instruction. I don’t even own a gun. But I do have a few hundred dollars for the certification fee.

      Reply
  3. dylan2 months ago

    put a gun on the table and tell it to kill someone it wont it needs someone to pull the triger people kill people the gun is just a object i am a hunter/fisherman and trust me i have never had my gun fire by it self just giving you all a pice of my mind

    Reply
    1. Scott1 month ago

      People are the ignorant ones that place the gun on the table and “tell it to kill people”. The gun can’t fire without the willful consent of irresponsible gun owners.

      Reply
  4. RDNK2 months ago

    These gungrabbers and their lies.It keeps blowing up in their faces but they keep trying ! Thats all they have now,…desperation ! There are b/g checks already ! The liberal want UBC’s and that will never happen,..just a road to confiscation ! Nothing the liberals have proposed would have done a damn thing to stop the recent shootings ! Gun ownership is at historic highs and gun related crime is at 30 year lows ! ’nuff said !

    Reply
    1. eskalale2 months ago

      LOL.

      Reply
    2. Scott1 month ago

      Yes, more guns, legal or not is obviously…the answer, since the NRA argues against regulation of any sort!

      Reply
  5. ks2 months ago

    Ive got an idea, don’t sell weapons to anyone

    Reply
    1. Scott1 month ago

      But then…we wouldn’t be…Patriotic!

      Reply
  6. Peter4 months ago

    Four thoughts on this article and on the comment thread.

    1) DEMOGRAPHICS – The demographics of gun ownership clearly are evolving, and they don’t favor gun owners, who are predominantly older white males in rural parts of the South and Midwest. Probably the most important divergences are urban/rural, white/black-hispanic, male/female, and older/younger. Irreversible trend lines in the next 50 years do not favor gun owners, with the nation becoming more urban and less white, and with more young people growing up in an environment where there is no functional need to own a gun and where the idea of owning a gun seems weirder. Of course, guns are prevalent with certain groups of young people in inner cities, but gun ownership here is largely associated with gangs and drugs. Revamping our drug and incarceration policies to keep kids in school and out of jail and to remove the market incentives for illegal drug trafficking would likely make a big dent in this population of gun users/possessors. The general point, of course, is that the gun-owning population is likely to continue to shrink for demographic reasons.

    2) PROTECTION – Interesting that the percentage who say they own a gun for protection has risen dramatically at the same time that crime has generally fallen dramatically. Suggests the protection argument is based less on reality and on actual probabilities than it is on a new sense of what constitutes a threat and how best to handle that threat, whether that threat is real or imagined. Guns give people the fantasy of control, not the reality of control, so to understand ownership obsession we need to understand what fantasies are at work. For example, there is a significant fear among whites of black youths. But most violence is geographically and specific, committed by black youths against other black youths, who more than likely know each other personally. This really removes any reasonable argument for stand-your-ground laws.

    3) CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT – Most citizens of other nations feel no enormous need to own guns and their rate of gun violence is far lower than it is in the United States. American need to understand how far out of the global mainstream we are when it comes to our gun ownership obsession, and how weird and creepy it seems to people in other countries. Falling back on an abstract “Constitutional” or “God-given” right really is not useful. Most legal scholars would agree our Constitution, which is one of the oldest in existence, and and which has never had a fixed meaning but has always been in instrument of political conflict, is long-past due for an overhaul. Our 225-year old Constitution was drafted for a nation entirely different from the country in which we now live. As for our right to own guns being God-given, I think most people would agree that is simply a bizarre, virtually meaningless idea.

    4) POLITICS – Probably the biggest obstacle to reasonable gun-control laws, akin at a minimum to the laws governing licensing cars and drivers, is the political tilt toward rural parts of the country within state legislatures, and to some degree in the U.S. Congress, which gives interests favoring extreme gun ownership rights disproportionate power to both legislate laws opening the floodgates to gun ownership and block laws that would enact even the mildest background check or gun safety provisions. Of course the other major source of influence in this debate, when one looks under the skirts of the NRA, is the firearms industry.

    Reply
    1. eskalale2 months ago

      Beautifully put and 100% correct. Thank you!

      Reply
    2. Matthew Cioffi2 months ago

      There is a very good reason that the Constitution has the right to bear arms as the second amendment. It is GUARANTEED and therefore cannot be removed.
      Do you even know what that reason is? Telling you would be redundant. It is more constructive if you search for the reason yourself and reply what it is.
      There is an old quote which goes, “Those who do not know their opponents’ argument, do not completely understand their own.”
      Misconceptions, misinterpretations, and outright lies are THE reason why politics can be so frustrating.

      Reply
    3. Anne1 month ago

      May I quote you?

      Reply
  7. Jill Blackwood4 months ago

    I would like to have more data about whether guns in the home do more harm than good. It certainly appears as though more people THINK they need guns for protection. But anecdotally I read more about gun accidents in the home causing harm than I do about folks successfully protecting themselves from harm with guns. Is this true? Is the perception that guns are essential for protection created by those who sell guns?

    Reply
    1. Ric4 months ago

      Generally speaking, it is not newsworthy when someone successfully defends themselves from harm.

      If you like stats, see justfacts.com/guncontrol.asp – for example compare the numbers who successfully defend, vs. the numbers of handgun accidents which would include those in the home accidentally harming someone. Just food for thought.

      Based on survey data from a 2000 study published in the Journal of Quantitative Criminology, U.S. civilians use guns to defend themselves and others from crime at least 989,883 times per year.

      In 2007, there were 613 fatal firearm accidents in the United States, constituting 0.5% of 123,706 fatal accidents that year.
      In 2007, there were roughly 15,698 emergency room visits for non-fatal firearm accidents,[123] constituting 0.05% of 27.7 million emergency room visits for non-fatal accidents that year.

      Reply
    2. James Darby3 months ago

      Sure there’s an increased risk. Just like buying two different lottery tickets doubles your chances of winning. 80 million people in the US have a firearm. 606 died from an accident. 11K from homicide. 22K from suicide. If it was all that dangerous, wouldn’t those numbers be a whole lot higher and our 330 million person population a whole lot lower?

      Reply
    3. Larry2 months ago

      Suicide is generally a very spontanious action, most do not plan it. In studies done a good majority of those people would be alive today if they did not have a gun in the house.

      So you don’t feel that almost 34,000 people dead from guns yearly is not that big of a deal, not a dangerous trend ? What does 34,000 dead people yearly have to do wih having 330 million people. So we have pleanty of people to spare???

      Reply
  8. MrApple4 months ago

    “…37% of adults reported having a gun in their household…”
    And you honestly expect people to be open and forthcoming about their firearm ownership with the ever growing abuses being committed by the very Government that is supposedly there to “protect and serve” them?

    Reply
  9. OLDBRO4 months ago

    Folks fighting for their rights are always more tenacious than the those trying to take them away.
    Bloomberg is a guilt ridden robber baron attempting to buy his way into heaven, for 50 million, by taking our guns. Me, just a retired union member spending what I can to make sure he fails on both accounts. Who’s more powerful? I have one vote, Bloomberg one, seems fair to me. Who’s winning
    the argument? Millions more citizen buying guns every year. Concealed carry is sweeping the nation
    under court order. The harder the left tries to crush us, the more united and powerful we become.
    I consider myself a reasonable citizen. I worked hard all my life, put my wife and kids through graduate school and they are all now envoled reasonable citizens. I’m not here to convince anyone of anything, I’m just letting you know that you have got your hands full if you think you are going to
    roll over me/us on this issue.

    Reply
  10. Elizabeth Davidson4 months ago

    Unfortunately, while that is true it isn’t the reason the the voting public doesn’t have a voice: policymic.com/articles/87719/pri…

    Reply
  11. Elizabeth Davidson4 months ago

    The vast majority of Americans want background checks on guns. Why are our elected officials refusing to pass laws requiring them?

    Reply
    1. Jim Floyd4 months ago

      Elizabeth I think it as this article stated that pro gun activists are more likely to be politically motivated while reasonable citizens that favor new regulations for gun control are not as politically active.

      Reply
      1. JAson4 months ago

        So….are you saying that pro gun activists are not reasonable Citizens? I think your statement is very lop sided and offensive. Is it not reasonable to favor the US COnstitution and the Bill of Rights? Is it not reasonable to expect the legistature to abide by the restriction in the 2nd Amendment that the right of the People to keep and bear arms SHALL not be infringed? Is it unreasonable that our right to self defense and self protection comes naturally from GOD and not granted by any government? Is it not reasonable to expect law enforcement and the judiciary to enforce ALL of the current laws that exist regarding firearms?

        The 10th Amendment also supports the 2nd, ( All Powers not granted to the United States by this Constitution nor Prohibited by are reserved to the States or to the People) since the 2nd RESTRICTS Congress from infringing upon a right. A right not granted by the Constitution…that right come from GOD and pre-dates the colonies, the United Colonies and the United States.

        Tryanny did not go away with the end of the American Revolution. I have ancestors to bore arms in the defense of America. I will bear arms in her defense too, from ALL enemies, foreign AND DOMESTIC. The media speak of “anti-goverment” people…….I am not anti-government. I have pledged my affirmation and support to the Constitution of the United States and for the Republic she represents. Those….Representatives, Senators and others elected to office, take a similar oath, but yet disregard that document for their own purposes or to promote some personal agenda..yes, even presidents……ARE domestic enemies of the COnstitution and the Unites States. I am not ‘anti-government” I am PRO CONSTITUTION and am PRO restoration of our Constitutional government.

        Reply
    2. Gary4 months ago

      The question should be why are Republican politicians BLOCKING any laws regulating guns.

      Reply
    3. Roger Tranfaglia4 months ago

      Because background checks are allready in effect…(?)…

      Reply
    4. TexTopCat4 months ago

      The question of “do I support background checks for all gun purchases” is quite different than any of the proposals actually presented by law makers. Now, if you asked the question, “do I support background checks when I loan/give my gun to a friend/relative?” you would get vastly different results. Also, adding an extra $50 to $100 for every BC is not fair or appealing either.
      Also, everyone that has studied history knows that gun registration is a prelude to gun confiscation in some manner. The gun control groups all have as their ultimate goal, total gun confiscation, even none of them are honest in most of their public policy statements. Not a single one of the background check plans do not include some form of gun and owner registration.
      Now, another issue is that even with the hundreds of millions of dollars spent every year on NICS, the data is not accurate or complete. Over 50% of the denials are incorrect. Only 11 people were found guilty of NICS violations last year. So, if background checks are important, fix the existing system first.
      We also have a problem with the current administration wanting to permanently deny gun access to thousands of military vets that have even talked to a doctor about any mental problems, such as dealing with the loss of their legs. People like D Feindstein claims that every vet has PTSD and should be denied.

      Reply
      1. AJ4 months ago

        Excellent reply. Saved me a lot of typing. A lot of people ask why anyone would be opposed to universal background checks (including some people posting in this thread). The short version of the answer is that if you research the issue a bit more, and see the statistics regarding where criminals actually get their guns, you’ll end up asking why anyone in the government would even think UBCs would address any significant problem in the first place.

        That leads you to one unavoidable conclusion – that the UBC is a tool to implement a national registry, which is the first step to gun confiscation – and this is targeted at law abiding. Whether they will ultimately achieve that goal or not is a separate discussion, but this is the first step towards it.

        Reply
    5. MrApple4 months ago

      There are already plenty of background checks that must be completed in order to purchase a firearm. How have any background checks stopped the people that passed the background check and then committed crimes or the people that purchased their firearms illegally?

      Reply
  12. J F Hanson4 months ago

    This press release demonstrates why the Pew Research operation cannot be trusted to produce relevant, journalistic materials.

    1. Note that the date of the poll from which these talking points are taken is some four-plus months after the Newtown incident, and it originally done during the week that the rhetoric was white-hot about the Senate vote for either the Schumer bill or the following Manchin-Toomey bill for firearms registration.

    2. Note that it is produced today, some twelve-months plus later–and newer polls have been done that show a notable lessening for at least some of the gun-control positions cited in these so-called ‘facts.’

    3. And, interestingly enough it is produced and distributed some ten days after Nanny Bloomberg pitches his $50,000,000 into the ring to sway public opinion against the NRA and on the same day his new front operation releases its first ad attacking the NRA.

    Finally, the latest Quinnipiac poll about the controversial gun control laws in CO show that opposition against them continues to increase–but Pew Research has nothing to say about this.

    This press release is a disservice to anyone, pro or con, interested in honest and timely discussion of the issues in this topic.

    Reply
    1. Marilyn Berko4 months ago

      Just because a fact changes over time ( the rate of an answer to a question in this case) does not mean it is a “fact”, which implies it was not accurate or truthful to begin with. If you have more recent accurate data, please feel free to offer it.

      What I do understand from this poll ( unless things have changed dramatically) that the majority of Americans do not have guys in the house because “they would feel uncomfortable having them in the house”. Now we are increasingly at risk not only from our paranoid neighbors in their own homes but from those same paranoid people carrying their weapons into movie theaters, in their cars, at political events, etc, so that if they feel threatened they can shoot us, even if their fears are unfounded. A bunch of bullies with guns disrespecting the rights of the majority.

      Reply
      1. JAson4 months ago

        We live in a Republic, Ma’am…NOT a democracy. Soverginty does NOT rest with the majority in a Republic. The right that we defend is protected by the US Constitution Bill of Rights number 2. It is a RESTRICTION upon the federal governemnt upon infringing upon a GOD given right that pre-existed the formation of Jamestown and the United States. It is a right that cannot be granted by a government and thus cannot be taken away. Only tyrants try to take away rights that are natural and God given. That same right that we defend so rigorously is YOUR right, as well. You are free to choose to excercise it or not. If you want to live a slave under an opressive government who tells you how, when, where, with whom and under what conditions you live your life, that is fine. I will not.

        ” We Solomely declare that we Shall preserve our Liberties being with one mind Resolved to die FREE men rather than live our lives slaves” ………Thomas Jefferson on the necessity of taking up arms 1775

        Reply
      2. GT4 months ago

        Sorry, but your comment isn’t correct. The article doesn’t give you enough information to make that assertion. The article only says that 37% report having a gun in the house. This implies that 63% don’t have a gun in the house. There is nothing in this article to confirm that implication. However, of those 63% (?), only 58% reported feeling uncomfortable having a gun in the house as a reason for not having one. That equates to 37% of the sample size saying that they are “uncomfortable”. Thus, your comment about the “majority” is wrong.

        I would also say that your implication that gun owners are paranoid is wrong as well. I could say that non-gun owners are the paranoids. Why do you fear gun owners?

        Reply
  13. Matt McCarter4 months ago

    Seems that a more recent poll is in order, than a Feb 2013 data set, if you want to draw any real meaning and understanding of the public’s attitude towards guns , their rights and proposed controls.

    I don’t have a political science degree but I fully understand that a poll taken less than three months after Newton wouldn’t reflect a true picture of American attitudes.

    After all, look at the recent polling of CO citizens who enacted laws shortly after this polls time frame, they have fell out of their frenzied state and have soured on their new laws realizing they do nothing to advance protection.

    Reply
    1. eskalale2 months ago

      Yeah because this debate is brand new.

      Reply
  14. Jordan4 months ago

    I was surprised to see that ONLY 37% of adults reported to have a gun in their household. I wonder in what states this study was done and also if some people didnt want to answer the question to keep their privacy.

    Reply
    1. Milano4 months ago

      No one that I know or have known in the past 2 decades owns a gun. Go the percentage, on the contrary seems too high to me.

      Reply
      1. JAson4 months ago

        No one I know or have known in the past two decades has NOT owned a gun.

        Reply
      2. TexTopCat4 months ago

        How do you know that? Did you search each of their residences? Did you use water boarding to obtain that information. My daughter considered me gun free and a anti-gun person for 25+ years. Not until I got my CHL and started going the the gun range weekly did she become aware of my position. The subject of guns and self-defense just never became a topic of conversation.
        I will not admit to gun ownership, NRA/TSA membership or support for 2A to anyone taking a poll.

        Reply
  15. Milo Schield4 months ago

    Knowing the political makeup/implications of gun owners is important. But it is also important to know who they are and what are their motives and circumstances. It would have been nice if all the political questions were split between gun owner households and their opposite. Other questions include:
    1) What percentage of gun owners: are women? are minorities? have used/shown their gun in defense of self or others? have needed a gun for protection of self or others?
    2) What percentage of those owning a gun for protection: are women? are minorities? have used/shown them in defense of self or others? have suffered harm or loss that a gun might have mitigated/prevented?
    3) What percentage of each group (men, women, whites, minorities) owning a gun for protection: have used/shown them in defense of self or others? have suffered harm or loss that a gun might have mitigated/prevented?
    Finally, knowing the number of respondents in the various subgroups would help apply the survey margin of error to that subgroup.

    Reply
    1. TexTopCat4 months ago

      I can not answer your questions, however, based on observations locally at the gun ranges of the new gun owners, the women out number the men. A few years ago when going to a gun range you would see “old white guys” and “military want a be’s”, Now you see family units with young children, groups of working age females, and college students. You also see waiting lists for gun classes, especially the ones where the instructor is female.
      The article was correct that people are not buying guns for hunting, but for sport shooting and self/home defense. Small semi-automatic pistols suitable for CC are in most demand.

      Reply
  16. Tom Malinowski4 months ago

    Background checks of potential gun purchasers is a BOGUS idea in the attempt to ensure that no guns get into the hands of “crazies”.
    Lets call a spade a spade – criminals and criminal organizations WILL ALWAYS GET GUNS as long as there are unscrupulous people selling stolen armament “under the radar” of law enforcement agencies.
    When it comes to combatting the above what chance does law enforcement agencies have when indifferent, lazy and criminally inclined judges, lawyers, lawmakers and/or civil-rights organizations to include media outlets which do not nor ever will criticize these criminal actions.
    America needs to pull together acting as united citizens to DO WHAT’S RIGHT!!!!

    Reply
    1. Milano4 months ago

      Since some people will drink and drive no matter what laws are created and put in effect, does that imply that looking at driver history records is a “BOGUS” idea? Some people still will certainly choose to drive drunk, but with the laws in effect, there is likely to be less drunk driving because it’s HARDER for drivers to get away with minimal repercussions by driving drunk. The point is to make it HARDER for people with questionable backgrounds to get guns. No one is naive enough to think that it will erase all crime.

      Reply
      1. JAson4 months ago

        But if criminals will always acquire guns by not obtaining them the way that law abiding people do, how is it going to get harder for them to acquire them? How many attempted purchasers who have completed a form 4473 and lied on it have been arrested and prosecuted for illegal attempt for purchase a gun? Those that have tried, have been denied and not arrested just go elsewhere to obtain their guns. And in nearly ALL those cases, it is a handgun that they obtain…not a rifle nor a so called “assault weapon” (A political misnomer if there ever was one). Rifles are not very concealable and of no use to the average criminal.

        Reply
      2. TexTopCat4 months ago

        Look at all of the mass shooters, would UBC have stopped any of them from having access to a gun? If you are planning to kill lots of people, why would you not kill to get a gun. After all, every police car is a mobile gun store for such people.

        Reply