WASHINGTON, (Xinhua) — Despite a rash of recent mass shootings nationwide and much criticism from media and gun control advocates, the National Rifle Association (NRA), a major U.S. gun lobbying organization, continues to get support from a majority of Americans, found a Gallup poll released Thursday.
Indeed, Gallup found that 58 percent of Americans have a favorable view of the NRA — a non-profit group that has also lobbied for and against certain firearms legislation — with conservatives and gun owners leading in support for the organization.
In a year plagued with mass shootings, including a recent tragedy at a community college in the state of Oregon in which nine victims were killed by a gunman on a rampage, there has been a national debate as to whether the NRA is somehow complicit in these shootings.
For example, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has blamed the NRA, which is an ardent supporter of gun rights, for what she said was stifling the movement toward gun control.
More broadly, some commentators in the news media and on social media have criticized the NRA for its theory that “a good guy with a gun” may stop “a bad guy with a gun” in mass shootings, Gallup noted.
Yet in a Gallup poll on Oct. 7-11, a solid majority of Americans — 58 percent — say they have an overall favorable impression of the NRA. This includes the highest recording of “very favorable” opinions — 26 percent — since Gallup began asking this question in 1989, according to Gallup.
In December 2012, soon after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in the state of Connecticut that left 20 children dead, 54 percent of Americans had a favorable impression of the NRA. The highest percentage in Gallup’s 26-year trend was in 2005, when 60 percent of Americans viewed the organization favorably, Gallup said.
While Americans overall view the NRA favorably, the favorable-unfavorable divide is stark among political ideologies.
Among conservatives, 77 percent have an overall favorable impression of the NRA, contrasted with 30 percent of liberals. For conservatives this includes 41 percent who say they have a “very favorable” impression of the group.
Ten percent of liberals share the same very favorable impression, with 45 percent saying that they have a “very unfavorable” opinion of the NRA, Gallup found.
There is also a divide in support for the NRA among those who are gun owners and those who personally do not own a gun. Among gun owners, 78 percent have an overall favorable opinion of the NRA, while only 20 percent have an unfavorable opinion, Gallup found.
The results are more mixed when examining non-gun owners. Forty-nine percent have a favorable opinion of the group, while 42 percent view it unfavorably. In the U.S., 28 percent say they personally own a gun.
The NRA has been a political advocate for gun rights, lobbying on behalf of particular legislative bills and candidates who support the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution — the right to bear arms — nationwide, while lobbying against most restrictions on gun ownership, Gallup noted.
The organization has also stoked controversy by suggesting that more Americans should be armed in public places, and that guns are not to blame for mass shootings. In short, they believe that gun rights generally should not be restricted, Gallup said.