Even Gun Owners Think the NRA Has Gone Too Far

1024px-National_Rifle_Association.svgNow that the NRA has been defeated at the ballot box twice in Washington state, the organization appears to be reeling from internal discord. It seems that NRA leadership has fallen out of touch with the needs and desires of NRA members. Need proof? The Center for American Progress released the astounding results of a Public Policy Polling survey of gun owners yesterday.

This survey demonstrates the existence of an American populace that doesn’t resemble its radical lobbying group in the least. A vast majority, some 83 percent, of gun owners want background checks on all gun sales nationwide. Those are jaw-dropping numbers. Think about it—that’s more than eight out of ten of all gun owners. And way more than half of all gun owners—66 percent—say they’d be more likely to support a politician who does support background checks. But the real eye-opener is this result:

Only 29 percent of gun owners feel that the NRA represents their thinking when it comes to background checks, with 62 percent saying the NRA is out of line with them on the issue. That fits in with a broader feeling that the NRA has lost it way: 59 percent of gun owners feel that the NRA used to be an organization devoted to gun safety but that it has been overtaken by lobbyists and the interests of gun manufacturers and lost its original purpose and mission. Nearly one-third of NRA members believe the organization has lost its way.

Roughly one out of every three NRA members believe their organization is out of step with their beliefs. If the NRA’s claims that they have 4.5 million members is accurate, that’s about one and a half million people. Imagine the kind of explosive headlines we’d be seeing if this were a poll of Democrats, or Catholics. The NRA is an organization that has been unchallenged for far too long, and, like any cash-heavy lobbying group, they’ve become removed from the goals and desires of the people they’re supposed to represent. With numbers like that, we might not be too far from an organized revolt from within the NRA. This many people can’t be unsatisfied with a group doing advocacy in their name without some sort of repercussions.

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Paul Constant
Paul Constant has written about politics, books, and film for Newsweek, The Progressive, the Utne Reader, and alternative weeklies around the country.