The NRA doesn’t want you to be considered a member, because you may have crazy views of guns

The NRA only claims to have 5 million members, but that's not Pew says they have more. What gives?

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published July 12, 2017 12:28PM (EDT)

 (AP/Damian Dovarganes)
(AP/Damian Dovarganes)

You would think that the NRA would be thrilled at a poll that claims they have roughly 14 million members. And they are — kind of.

"Pew’s recent survey on firearm-related attitudes and experiences of U.S. adults found — based on the percentage saying 'yes' to the question about whether they are NRA members — that more than 14 million Americans consider themselves NRA members," the NRA wrote in a recent newsletter.

That's consistent with the Pew Research Center's recent report, which claimed that "three in 10 U.S. adults say they currently own a gun, and of that group, 19 percent say they belong to the National Rifle Association."

But the NRA isn't fully embracing Pew's findings, perhaps because some of them paint an unflattering portrait of the individuals in their organization. It found, among other things, that "NRA members skew even more heavily to the political right than other gun owners," that "gun owners who say they belong to the NRA tend to own more guns, on average, than gun owners who don’t belong to the NRA" and that "about half (52 percent) of Republican gun owners who belong to the NRA, for instance, say gun laws in the U.S. should be less strict than they are now; 33 percent of Republican gun owners who don’t belong to the NRA share this view."

From the NRA's perspective, "Pew did not actually survey NRA members.  Any views, beliefs, or opinions they ascribe to 'NRA members' is a simple guess on their part.

They added, "Pew does not know what percentage of NRA members support one law or another, how many guns they own, or anything else for that matter. At best, they can claim to have the responses of Americans who SAY they are NRA members, but they certainly cannot say much beyond that."

Of course, it's a bit strange that the NRA would try to distance itself from political positions that could be perceived as excessively radical. Last month it released a controversial ad in which right-wing commentator Dana Loesch said that liberals "use their media to assassinate real news. They use their schools to teach children that their president is another Hitler. They use their movie stars and singers and comedy shows and award shows to repeat their narrative over and over again… and then they use their ex-president to endorse the resistance."

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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