Most support NRA despite recent criticism, poll shows

While the National Rifle Association takes a beating daily in the media, a recent poll shows a majority of Americans still support the nation's leading gun-rights group. 

Gallup polling shows 54 percent of Americans have a favorable opinion of the NRA. Thirty-eight percent have an unfavorable opinion. 

The NRA has once again emerged at the center of a national policy debate, as President Obama and congressional Democrats push a new gun-control plan in the wake of the Connecticut school shooting. The group faced criticism for a press conference one week after the shooting in which NRA chief Wayne LaPierre blasted critics and called for armed guards in every school. 

Still, the Gallup polling was conducted around the time of that press conference, from Dec. 19-22. NRA membership has also surged in recent weeks. 

Perhaps not surprisingly, the favorable opinions were even higher among those who own a gun. Among those who don't, just four in 10 support the NRA. 

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Gallup also found that, while many support the NRA, 58 percent also now back stricter gun laws. 

Public opinion on the NRA has fluctuated over time, hitting a low of 42 percent in 1995 and a high of 60 percent a decade later -- the high was recorded shortly after the assault-weapons ban expired. 

The poll of 1,038 adults had a margin of error of 4 percentage points.

Another survey from Rasmussen Reports released Friday found that 65 percent of Americans think the Second Amendment is meant to help people protect themselves against tyranny. Just 17 percent of those surveyed disagreed. 

The poll of 1,000 adults was conducted Jan. 16-17. It had a margin of error of 3 percentage points.