Whenever NRA reviews other organizations' surveys or polls that claim to represent the views of NRA members, we do so with a suspicious eye. Our membership rolls are not released, so it's impossible for organizations that have no access to the NRA's membership list, to "test the pulse" of NRA members as effectively as NRA can.
That's why we viewed with skepticism a recent Pew Research poll, particularly its supposed findings regarding "NRA Households." While NRA does not dispute everything in the poll, the results cited do show some now-familiar inaccuracies. We know the findings are inaccurate because we recently completed our own polling, of our own members.
Under the heading "NRA Households," the Pew poll stated, "Only about a third of those in NRA households favor bans on assault-style weapons (33%), which assumes that two thirds (67%) oppose bans on so-called "assault weapons." NRA's own polling data shows that a much higher 89 percent of actual members oppose banning semi-automatic firearms.
The Pew poll went on to state, "Yet people in NRA households overwhelmingly favor making private gun sales and sales at gun shows subject to background checks: 74% favor this proposal while just 26% are opposed." On the contrary, our own survey showed conclusively that NRA members strongly oppose these measures.
It is important to note that when the Pew poll says, "making private gun sales and sales at gun shows subject to background checks," what they are referring to are "universal" background checks.
The main thrust of "universal" background checks is the criminalization of private firearm transfers. The checks would be mandated on EVERY transfer, sale, purchase, trade, gift, rental, and loan of a firearm between any and all individuals, including family members and lifelong friends. The cost for a background check for a federally mandated program can be any amount the government decides.
These checks are nothing more than regulatory proposals that mandate the government collection of data on lawful gun buyers and sellers and amount to universal gun registration and gun owner licensing. Furthermore, they aren't necessary or effective in reducing crime.
It is already a federal felony to be engaged in the business of buying and selling firearms without a federal dealer's license. It is already a crime for a federally licensed dealer to sell a gun without doing a background check, and it is already a federal felony to sell, trade, give, lend, rent or transfer a gun to a person you know or should know is not legally allowed to own, purchase or possess a firearm.
NRA's survey results showed that 93% of our members oppose laws requiring gun owners to register with the federal government, and 92% oppose federal laws banning the sale of firearms between private citizens.
The NRA survey of randomly selected NRA members across the country is the only legitimate survey of NRA members on these issues. (See full results of NRA survey here.)
NRA opposes, and will continue to oppose, "universal" background checks and registration schemes. We do believe that records of those who are prohibited by law from purchasing firearms (including those whose mental health history puts them in this category) ought to be included in the federal instant check system.
Please continue to contact your U.S. Senators and tell them to oppose "universal" background check legislation. To identify and contact your elected officials in Washington, D.C., use the "Write Your Reps" feature at www.NRAILA.org, or you can reach your member of Congress by phone at 202-224-3121.