Poll: Majority of Americans view the NRA favorably

The president said he supports a ban on assault weapons. Getting it though Congress quickly, however, is unlikely, and the mere mention of the ban is enough to send people running to the stores to buy guns before they become illegal. Chip Reid reports.
CBS News

A new poll conducted after the mass shooting that killed 20 children and seven adults in Newtown, Conn., found that a majority of Americans have a favorable view of the National Rifle Association.

In a Gallup survey of 1,038 randomly selected adults, 54 percent said they have a "very favorable" or "mostly favorable" opinion of the powerful gun lobby. The NRA's support is down from its peak in 2005 - the last time Gallup asked the question - when 60 percent of respondents said they had positive views of the organization. The NRA's low point among public perception occurred in 1995 when only 42 percent of respondents said they viewed the organization favorably.

The NRA has become the target among critics of gun ownership with its absolutist views on guns, including assault weapons. A week after the Newtown massacre, Wayne LaPierre, the CEO of the NRA, held a news conference where he proposed a solution to school shootings, calling for "armed police officers in every single school in this nation." LaPierre's highly-publicized remarks happened at the midpoint of the poll, which was conducted from December 19-22.

Not surprisingly, respondents who keep guns in their homes had a more favorable view of the NRA than respondents who do not own guns. Seventy-five percent of gun owners view the organization in a positive light compared to 40 percent non-gun owners who do.

Also unsurprisingly, 83 percent of Republicans, who tend to prefer less gun control, backed the NRA while only 36 percent of Democrats had a favorable view. The poll has a +/- 4 percent margin of error.

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    Leigh Ann Caldwell is a political reporter for