The NRA prides itself on being “freedom’s safest place,” and its members exemplify what is best about our beloved country. A pair of recent national surveys on patriotism bears out what many instinctively understand: that for those who embrace traditional American values, the NRA remains an important cultural touchstone in its own right. Meanwhile, the surveys also show Americans strongly embracing the right to keep and bear arms, including younger adults for whom other traditional aspects of patriotism are less central to their identity.
The online surveys were conducted during October and November by the American Culture & Faith Institute (the Institute), and each involved a sample of 1,000 subjects 18 years or older that reflects the demographic profile of the U.S. adult population. The Institute published its findings in a report entitled “American Views on Patriotism.”
The organization with the highest patriotism rating among all respondents was none other than the National Rifle Association, which 33% of respondents identified as “very patriotic.” This eclipsed the patriotism rating of the Supreme Court, both chambers of Congress, both major political parties, and major news outlets from across the political spectrum.
Unsurprisingly, a majority of the respondents – 51% – also indicated they “strongly agree” with the statement that “[b]asic freedoms are under attack in America.” An additional 32% agreed with that statement “somewhat.”
Fifty-seven percent of respondents indicated that the right to bear arms was “very” personally meaningful to them, with an additional 21% rating it as “somewhat” personally meaningful. Only 9% of respondents answered that the right to bear arms was “not at all” personally meaningful to them.
A clear majority of both white (59%) and black (55%) respondents identified the right to bear arms as “very” personally meaningful.
Perhaps the most heartening result of the survey, however, was that Millennials aged 18 to 29 identified the right to bear arms as “very” personally meaningful at the highest rate of any age group, with 60% providing this response. This was so, even though this age cohort ranked lowest in rating the American flag, the pledge of allegiance, and the National Anthem as “very” personally meaningful.
A full 90% of respondents rated the statement that “[i]ndividual rights come with responsibilities” as an “accurate” description of what it means to be patriotic. This sentiment, of course, is integral to the prevailing mindset of American gun culture, which prizes responsibility for one’s own safety and emphasizes care and responsibility in the handling of firearms.
Overall, while the survey did show some marked divisions among Americans’ views on patriotism across a range of issues, the NRA and the right to bear arms continue to be strongly associated with this notion in the American consciousness. That, and particularly the strong attachment to Second Amendment rights by the youngest generation of American adults, bode well for the nation’s future.