With multiple homicide shootings happening on a weekly and sometimes daily basis in the United States, the topic of gun ownership has become a leading topic. One of the leaders in gun rights and individual ownership for more than a generation has been the National Rifle Association, or the NRA. Who is the modern NRA?
48% of gun owners in the United States today say that they own a gun primarily for protection.
The NRA was initially founded as an organization that would help gun owners become familiar with their firearm, provide training, and encourage marksmanship. With the Supreme Court ruling that the Second Amendment applies to individuals and the right to own a firearm, the NRA has now stepped into the gun control conversation. This has created a shift in the demographics that is starting to be seen in its 4.3 million members.
- 37% of American adults report that there is at least 1 gun in their household at any given time.
- Only 1 out of 4 people in a recent survey said that they were the ones who personally owned the gun that was in their home.
- 58% of the people who do not own guns in the United States say they do not do so because it makes them feel uncomfortable.
Most people in the United States don’t actually own a gun. This means that with over 300 million guns in private ownership, the average household is going to own 2 or 3 guns instead of just 1. These ownership figures come from 2010, the last time reliable data was collected, so the amount of guns owned per household has likely increased since then. There is a great focus on handguns that are owned because they are the most likely firearm used in the commission of a crime, but only 33% of guns owned in the US are handguns.
Why Do People Own Guns in America?
- The percentage of gun owners who say that they own their firearms for the primary purpose of hunting: 32%.
- In the last 10 years, the percentage of gun owners who use their gun primarily for protection has nearly doubled.
- Only 2% of gun owners say that they own a gun because it is their Second Amendment right to do so, a 50% drop in the last 10 years.
- Just as many people own guns as a hobby as they do because they feel like it is their right to own a gun.
- Target or sport shooting accounts for 7% of gun ownership in the United States.
One of the leading figures in the NRA today is Wayne LaPierre, who is a Vice President within the agency. In speaking at a recent annual convention, LaPierre said that the organization’s primary focus was to protect the rights of gun owners. This is a clear shift from training and marksmanship, but it seems to be paying off with growth figures that are being seen. Although gun owners are sometimes painted as radicals or people with a grudge, the facts show that only 2% of gun owners have a gun because of “Constitutional” guarantees. Most people own a gun for self-defense and that is clearly a sign of the times.
How Much Influence Does The NRA Really Have?
- More women [44%] than men [34%] believe that the NRA has too much influence over gun control laws in the United States.
- Blacks/African-Americans and Hispanics are more likely to say that the NRA has too much influence over gun control laws, but more of these minority groups also say that the NRA doesn’t have enough influence.
- A liberal Democrat is more likely to oppose the NRA [77%] than a conservative Republican is to support the NRA [58%].
- People who support having gun ownership are more engaged [45%] in political advocacy than those who support gun control measures [26%].
- The percentage of gun control supporters who say that they have made a contribution to an organization that supports their position: 6%.
- 1 out of every 2 households that doesn’t own a gun says that NRA has too much influence on gun control legislation.
What these statistics are showing about NRA demographics is about equal compared to those who really don’t support the NRA. Most people who don’t support the NRA aren’t willing to take more than ideological action against the organization. On the other hand, only about half of those who support the NRA are politically engaged in some way. What does this mean? That a small minority of people are driving the conversation about gun control and are pretending to be bigger than they really are. This brings up a question that must be asked. We know why the NRA supports guns. What is the motivation for the small minority that supports gun controls instead?
How Politically Active Is The NRA?
- The amount of money that the NRA spent during the 2008 Presidential election: $10 million.
- In contributions and membership donations, the NRA earns over $200 million annually.
- 46% of the annual contributions that are given to the NRA are spent on fundraising efforts.
- 98% of the NRA membership holds a favorable view of the current political activities that are being conducted by the organization.
- 82% of NRA members support putting armed security professionals into every public school.
- In a recent survey, 79% of NRA members stated that they suspected any gun control legislation enacted by Congress was part of a series of sweeping regulations that would be used to eliminate Second Amendment rights.
The NRA is made out to be a bit of a bad guy, but it is important to eliminate author and reader bias from the equation. When looking at these figures, on the surface it seems like the average NRA member has some mental health issues. Although NRA members are twice as likely to live in a rural community, they are almost as likely to support some gun control measures as well. The primary mission of the average NRA member is to make sure that they are able to maintain their gun ownership rights. It is the perception of trying to eliminate the Second Amendment that gets the average NRA member fired up and that’s pretty understandable. Imagine going back to Prohibition times and not having alcohol as a right?
NRA Households Provide Some Amazing Facts
- 3 out of every 4 NRA households states that they fully support background checks for private gun sales that occur in the United States.
- The percentage of NRA supporters that are in favor of having a ban on assault-style weapons that are sold: 33%.
- 35% of NRA households are in favor of a ban on high-capacity ammunition clips.
Is NRA support for these gun control measures less than in the general public? It is and that is to be expected. To paint every NRA household in the views of Wayne LaPierre, however, is just as critical of a mistake as assuming every gun control supporter wants to scrap all of the rights of gun owners. About a third of NRA households want to see actual bans in place for weapons that are classified as dangerous. A vast majority support expanded background checks. This means that many of the news stories that are brought to the general public’s attention are on one extreme or the other. There really is a lot of common ground that can be found.
Things You Didn’t Know About the NRA
- In 1934, the NRA supported gun control legislation, licensing firearm dealers, and eliminating the ability for those with mental health issues to own a gun.
- When the KKK was terrorizing minorities, the NRA trained and supported them to combat the racist organization.
- 54% of Americans hold a favorable opinion of the NRA, including those who are not members of the organization.
- The current stance of the NRA is to enforce gun control laws more consistently instead of introducing new legislation.
What many people don’t realize is that the NRA is actually broken up into 3 distinct groups. There’s a lobbying group that only deals with politics and policy and that’s the part of the NRA that tends to get the most attention. There is also a charitable arm of the NRA, called the NRA Foundation, and the NRA of America helps to continue the initial mission of the organization to provide training, safety, and gun education. As the data shows, there are a lot of NRA members who share similar views to gun ownership as non-NRA members. In that area of common ground, we can all create comprehensive policies that will increase our safety, protect gun rights, and an overall solution that will benefit everyone. To do that, however, we must ignore the extremism that comes from the NRA and from those who hold a very unfavorable view of the organization.