Although the National Rifle Association is often referred to as a monolithic force, less than 10 percent of gun owners belong to the NRA, and the organization does not necessarily reflect their views. So how many gun owners belong to the NRA?
The NRA claims it has five million members, according to the Washington Post (which notes that number may be inflated). That’s between 6 to 7 percent of the total number of gun owners nationwide: Between 73 million and 81 million gun owners do not belong to the NRA.
Overall, about 43 percent of Americans overall have a favorable view of the organization. But surveys indicate that the NRA doesn’t speak with one voice for all gun owners. A 2013 Pew Research Center study found that both NRA members (74 percent) and non-members (83 percent) favor background checks at gun shows and private sales, even though the NRA officially opposes it.
The NRA is also opposed to a ban on assault-style weapons, but 51 percent of non-NRA gun owners support it. Even one-third of NRA members support the ban.
NRA annual meeting in Atlanta. Photo: Getty Images
Other studies show that gun owners strongly support more gun-safety regulations, including a federal database of gun sales, banning people convicted of domestic violence from owning guns and prohibiting ownership by those with a mental illness.
It’s a far cry from the unyielding positions taken by NRA officials in the aftermath of the high-school shooting in Parkland, Florida, on Feb. 14.
“Taken as a whole, these numbers indicate that there’s a large and largely silent majority of gun owners who find themselves at odds with the NRA on key gun policy issues. And even within the NRA, plenty of members disagree with the organization’s stated policy positions,” writes Christopher Ingraham in the Post. “This silent majority has been locked out of the gun control debate, on the one hand by gun control advocates who paint gun owners in broad brushstrokes, and on the other by the more extreme elements within the NRA.”