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By Larry Keane

America’s rifle – the modern sporting rifle – is growing in popularity.

That fact only follows logic, as lawful firearm ownership in America is on the rise through the COVID-19 pandemic and further propelled by heightened social unrest, uncertainty and acts of criminal violence. There are an estimated 2.5 million new gun owners in recent months, and that’s why the National Shooting Sports Foundation, as the firearm industry’s trade association, has been working to ensure all gun owners are aware of the fundamental rules for safe and responsible firearm use and storage.

We also wanted to understand America’s feeling about modern sporting rifles (MSR), the semiautomatic rifles that are popular with recreational shooting, hunting and increasingly used for self-defense. There are nearly 18 million of these rifles in circulation and they’re proving to be the most popular selling centerfire rifle on the market.

A recent NSSF survey of registered voters in 18 key states showed that most voters, 56 percent, see self-defense and home-defense as the most common reason for someone to own a gun. Considering about one-third of the respondents reported feeling less safe in their homes and communities, the current firearm purchasing increase is not surprising. In fact, over a third of voters have become more supportive of the rights to keep and bear arms because of the current environment.

Reason for Gun Ownership

What does this mean for the perennial debate over banning semiautomatic rifles like MSRs? According to the survey results, a majority of voters in these states oppose a so-called “assault weapon” ban, which would outlaw the popular MSRs based solely on the cosmetic features of the firearm. Nearly two-thirds of the respondents acknowledge that a ban on MSRs would not be effective for reducing crime in their communities.

Voters Oppose a Ban on Semi-Automatic Rifles

Voters were also asked about their opinion on the proposals to limit the capacity of ammunition magazines. Most respondents believe that a magazine capacity limit would have “no impact at all” on reducing criminal violence or that it may increase crime. About 54 percent agree that citizens with a lawfully owned firearm should be able to choose the type and amount of ammunition they use.

With an eye on the upcoming elections, candidates should know that nearly three-quarters of voters would be more likely to vote for a candidate who supports gun safety and education programs. This holds true across partisan divides and without regard to gun ownership.

Voters Support Gun Safety and Education Programs

The collective impression that can be made with voters’ voices in this study is clear: American citizens want to be able to choose the manner by which they protect themselves and their families. These results run counter to the soundbites from gun control groups which downplay the value Americans place on semiautomatic firearms, including MSRs. Americans want the ability to effectively protect themselves and their families in these uncertain times with the firearm of their choice.

The sample size for the survey is 800 likely voters in Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, North Carolina, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, Virginia, and Washington, and the margin of error is +/-3.5% at a 95% confidence interval, meaning that if this survey were repeated, results would not vary from the population by more than 3.5 percentage points 19 times out of 20. Responses were gathered via landline and cell phone interviews conducted with live operators at a professional call center. Demographics were adjusted to reflect the population from which the sample was drawn. The survey was conducted June 23 – 28, 2020 by Harper Polling. The total percentages of responses may not equal 100% due to rounding.


Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

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  1. “56 percent, see self-defense and home-defense as the most common reason for someone to own a gun.”

    As your natural/God given civil right it should rank highest as ones birthright

    Perhaps the NSSF will take their own poll to heart and end the collaboration with civilian disarmament proponents in the infringement of Americans birthright.

  2. Ruger 10/22 remains my most favorite, all time preferred firearm. Have worn out more magazines on that gun than any other.

    AR-15’s are a lot of fun too and bring many advantages. Especially for teaching young person’s on centerfire, semi-auto long guns. Low recoil and low cost, light weight, excellent for the next training step after a bolt action.

    • Its a whole lot easier to carry 1000 rounds of 22 than 1000 of 5.56mm. And I have two 10/22’s and an AR-15. But sadly my bump stock was lost in a boating accident.

      • That’s a good thing. I lost two by giving them to a friend. Really. Because they are foolish, ammo-wasting toys in addition to wrongly unlawful. I bought the two when I felt the right slipping away. Reflex, and it cost me.

        • Doesky>> I don’t consider shooting all over into a berm controllable.

          By controllable, I mean that consistently hitting center mass or head shots on man sized silhouette targets faster than I can with a standard semi auto.

          The recoil rail with a bipod that I had on my slide fire rifle went a long way in improving hits but still does not compare to a real FA.

        • to Cooter E Lee
          “The recoil rail with a bipod that I had on my slide fire rifle went a long way in improving hits but still does not compare to a real FA”

          The Bump stock is not a full auto weapon. It does however perform very similarly to a real FA. Unfortunately the legal owners were not given the time necessary to develop training programs to actually see just how accurate they could be.

          Having trained with machine guns while I was in the army. I saw this as a real less expensive alternate. Have you trained with machine guns? Based on the uneducated public reaction to bump stocks, I’d say most people don’t know how to employ MG’s. And don’t understand that they are not “bolt action rifle” accurate. ie sub MOA or 1 MOA.

          If I remember correctly less than 80 died from being shot by the bump stock equipped AR-15’s at Mandalay Bay. Most of the 500 who were injured, were not shot at all. But were hurt in the panic, trying to get under cover.

          The Thompson sub-machine was marketed to large land owners who might face a mob of cattle rustlers. Like the McCloskeys in St Louis Mo. Large land owners who faced a mob of a couple of hundred criminals. Auto Ordnance had no military sales for 20 years, before WW2. They did very well with just civilian MG sales.

          Besides its our right to own any Arm we choose. Civilians really do have a need to repel a mass attack. And since organized mobs are burning cities to the ground I’d say that need is real in 2020.

          I understand what I’ve said makes some people nervous. However the 2A is not about hunting. And when the current local governments have reverted to tyranny. By using mobs to get what they want from innocent city residence. Then having a low cost alternative to real machine guns is just what the Founders had in mind.

          And anyone can find out if Obama sent machine guns and grenade launchers to your local city or county law enforcement agencies. Its all on the internet.
          I personally want to have better firepower than the cops have. And historically in the USA. Civilians have always had better weapons than the police or military.

          It kept us a free people that way.

        • Cooter…”By controllable, I mean that consistently hitting center mass or head shots”

          I’d wager that most LMG’s over the past 100 years were NOT designed to the criteria that you just stated while in FA mode.

        • My comment wasn’t very well thought out or expressed.

          What I am trying to say is that bump stocks will not typically score more hits in a given period of time. They are not some magic laser gun where 30 bullets fired = 30 kill shots. Neither are real machine guns for that matter, but bump stocks are much harder to get and stay on target due to the reciprocating motion of the firearm and the necessity of holding it a certain way to reliably cycle multiple rounds.

          I agree that FA machine guns (and bump stocks) can be deployed tactically and it is our birthright as Americans to own them.

      • Bump stocks are a waist for self defense. What do you want, 3 bullets in one person or 3 bullets in 3 persons coming at you to hurt you. What would put fear in them would be a bump stock with phospherous tracer rounds. Shot them in the army, totally bad ass, if the bullet doesn’t kill you the phophorous burns right through you to the soles of your feet.

    • We will only keep our right to keep firearms until the 0.1% decides they are no longer willing to allow it to continue. Voting red after that will only accelerate that effort. We’d be much better off educating progressives about how their rights and liberties are guaranteed and strengthened through responsible firearms ownership.

      • They really do not think like you, they are unable to think logically. Until they can think with logic and not feelings you are out of luck.

  3. BuT, buT, BIden Is LEadINg in tHe POlls!

    So, either the presidential polls are misleading, this one is, or both are.

    Or people who vote Democrat don’t understand what Democrats want to do with guns.

    It’s probably the latter, given the anecdotal stories about “new gun owners” and how upset they are at how gun laws delay their acquisition of a firearm.

    • Voters are largely oblivious.
      Remember all the offended Democrat voters during the last VA election who had no clue it was Northam in that picture? Somehow in the age of Twitter, Facebook and the 24 hour newscycle most people are still totally dumbfounded that there exists a world out here.

      The truly awful thing is those morons who do go vote think they’re the informed ones because they bother to cast a ballot. I can’t count how many times I’ve had the “I didn’t know voting was today/here” conversation in line with these idiots. When asked what day Thanksgiving is on they’d respond with “I think it’s on a Thursday this year.”

      • “Somehow in the age of Twitter, Facebook and the 24 hour newscycle most people are still totally dumbfounded that there exists a world out here.”

        They still have no clue that Obama built those cages to detain illegals, and Obama deported more people than Trump has. Democrat voters are an ignorant bunch thanks to the confirmation bias media they consume.

    • Correct,remember when Hellary had it all sewed up in the polls,however she still blames her loss on everything under the sun rather than she’s a corrupt miserable witch who Americans wouldn’t vote for.
      Oh yeah Shotgun Joe Braindead’s a shoe in.

    • 1 + 1 =2 to a logical person. 1 + 1 = what ever I think it should equal to a liberal. Do you see the problem now?

  4. I am a bit surprised that Team Joe would risk losing votes by continuing to publicize the ban part of his platform. He he joyfully outright lies about other things, why not wait until after the election to emphasize that? Surely he knows that he already has the votes of those that require the ban from him. Sure he is mentally challenged but he has paid campaign strategists that are good at their job, no?

    • So one would think. Personally, I think they’re simply counting on hatred of Trump to carry the whole thing; they’re all-in on whatever makes them look like the polar opposite of the Bad Man.

      • That’s it. They think they’re going to ride a wave of hatred and division into power. The virus is his fault. Nancy is calling it the Trump Virus. They’re trying to blame the virus related bad economy on Trump. They’re blaming the civil unrest on Trump. They know their voters are too ignorant to realize that the Left has been cheering on the lock downs and the mostly peaceful rioters. As stated above, they can get away with this because they control 90% of the Trump hating media.

        • “They think they’re going to ride a wave of hatred and division into power.”

          It worked for Trump in 2016, you know. A sizable part of his win was people’s hatred of Hillary.

          The Leftists are *pissed*. Angry people show up to vote. We used that kind of anger to neuter Obama in the mid-term of his first run. That very well could push them to victory this time.

          So make those purchases now, instead of later…

        • I don’t think Trump rode a wave of anger into the oval office. I think he rode a wave of ‘enough of the same old bullshit’ into office.

      • That’s debatable. We were so enraged after ObamaCare was rammed down our throats that we turned the House to our control, and Obama was effectively neutered for the rest of his presidency.

        They can do the same to us in November…

  5. Guys, this doesn’t mean these people won’t vote for Joe Biden. Our very own Miner49er, who seems to agree with 99% of Left wing positions and politics, is against AR confiscation and magazine limits. Yet, he will be voting for Slow Joe, or at least vote against Trump.

    • He’s only for ar 15 and standard cap mags if they are in the right hands. He supports red flag laws, ubc’s, etc.

      He is not a 2a supporter. He’s an arm the antifa and blm supporter.

  6. Well, this is a bit of positive news…however, if they want to keep their arms, then don’t vote for Slow Joe. Kind of have to agree from some of the above comments, some of these folks don’t know who they’re voting for or what day Thanksgiving falls on…

  7. fyi
    From Redwood city California. The Left just “F”‘ed up really bad. I look forward to being able to paint: “The 2nd Amendment is for Everyone” or “Abortion is murder” or “Trump 2020”. And you can paint “Being gay is great”, or “Jesus Christ is King”. What ever floats your boat.
    Public streets are now a public advertising space. The more speech the better I say.
    And all painted at tax pay expense. And guarded by the local police. All thanks to a republican lawyer. A very smart hot chick!

    I remember being told as a kid back in the 1970’s, the answer to the speech of the KKK was more speech. And I agree. Start painting the streets. The world is your canvas. And the pavement is you microphone. video 16 min long.

    BLM Street Mural ERASED After Woman Requests MAGA Mural, Too

  8. BREAKING: Donnie’s sending in the FEDS to Chiraq. And elsewhere…about damn time!

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