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RELEASE: Poll Shows NRA Members at Odds with NRA Leadership on Commonsense Gun Laws

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Contact: Katie Peters
Phone: 202.741.6285
Email: kpeters@americanprogress.org

Washington, D.C. — Today at the event “After Aurora: Dispelling the Myth of NRA Power,” the Center for American Progress and Mayors Against Illegal Guns unveiled results of a recent survey by GOP pollster Frank Luntz showing that 87 percent of National Rifle Association members agree that support of the 2nd Amendment should be accompanied by commonsense public safety measures to help keep illegal guns out of the hands of criminals. Lowell Baker, president of Luntz Global LLC, the firm that conducted the survey, explained the findings and specific proposals that have broad support from NRA members.

"This past Sunday on Fox News, conservative pundit Bill Kristol said that Democrats were being ‘foolish’ and ‘cowardly’ by not proposing sensible gun regulations while there was ‘support for some moderate forms of gun control,’" said Winnie Stachelberg, Executive Vice President for External Affairs at the Center for American Progress. "Hopefully the release of this poll will embolden politicians, regardless of party affiliation, to enact the policies that both protect the safety of American families and the rights of responsible gun owners."

This poll shows that NRA members overwhelmingly support the practical gun laws that the group’s Washington leaders oppose. For example, the majority of NRA members believe that criminal background checks should be required before selling a gun to a potential buyer (74 percent), with more than half of NRA members believing that everyone who seeks to own a gun already has to pass a background check to complete the purchase. Most NRA members also think that concealed carry permits should only be granted to applicants who have completed gun safety training (74 percent) and gun owners must report their lost or stolen guns to police (64 percent).

The NRA leadership tries to lead politicians into believing that millions of NRA members are behind their vote recommendations and that gun owners are against any legislation that may prevent guns from getting into the wrong hands.

"NRA members are reasonable people, like my dad, who was a licensed gun dealer. But this isn’t my father’s NRA. The NRA’s Washington leadership is in thrall to the firearms industry and, unfortunately, many NRA members turn to the organization for their information," said Mark Glaze, Director of Mayors Against Illegal Guns. "And the mythology that grew out of the ’94 election that the assault weapons ban resulted in the loss of over a dozen seats is devastating, and flatly wrong.”

"No endorsement is more eagerly sought after than that of the NRA but the notion that they carefully select races is not true. They give their money to Republican incumbents in safe districts that will go on to win by 20 or 30 points, to some Democrat incumbents with no benefit, and to some Republicans in open races with no benefit," said Paul Waldman, contributing editor at The American Prospect. "The only statistically significant effect of their endorsement is in the extremely rare case that they back a Republican challenger to a Democratic incumbent, which has an impact of about 2 percentage points. The press makes the assumption that fear of power is proof of actual power but there is no evidence that is the case."

The survey, completed in May 2012, was commissioned by Mayors Against Illegal Guns and conducted by Luntz Global, using a nationwide sample of 945 gun owners. The sample was divided evenly by gun owners who were current or lapsed members of the NRA, and non-NRA gun owners. The survey’s margin of error is +/-3 points.

Related resources from ThinkProgress:

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