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NRA Members strongly oppose new gun restrictions, poll finds

Strong majorities of National Rifle Association members reject newly proposed gun restrictions, according to a survey released Thursday by the gun advocacy organization.

The poll finds more than eight in 10 NRA members oppose bans on high-capacity ammunition clips and semi-automatic assault weapons, with at least seven in 10 opposing each "strongly." At the same time, 91 percent support changing laws to stop people with a mental illness from acquiring guns, and 82 percent favor placing armed guards in every school, a central proposal of the advocacy organization.

While some survey questions ask about gun restrictions that go beyond what President Obama laid out in a news conference last week -- such as bans on private sales and confiscation of previously purchased high-capacity clips -- the poll may provide the clearest look at where NRA members stand on new gun restrictions.

The poll results come amid a heated debate over whether the NRA's leadership is in sync with the group's members or catering to the interests of gun manufacturers. In a major news conference announcing new proposals to combat gun violence, Obama argued that "more than 70 percent of National Rifle Association members" support universal background checks. He referred to a survey was conducted in May 2012 by Republican pollster Frank Luntz for Mayors Against Illegal Guns. It used a non-random opt-in Internet panel to contact self-identified NRA members. The group did not provide requested details about the poll's question wording.

Notably, the new NRA poll did not ask about expanding background checks to sales at gun shows, a measure supported by 86 percent of gun-owning households and 90 percent of those without guns, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll released last week. While polls show that Americans in gun-owning households oppose restrictions on assault weapons and high-capacity clips, the new NRA poll finds more intense opposition among its membership.

The survey also finds strong support for the organization and disdain for Obama and Democratic leaders. Fully 93 percent of members say they see Obama in an unfavorable light, and 91 percent say the same for Vice President Biden. New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg (I) -- an outspoken advocate of new gun-control laws -- receives an 80 percent unfavorable rating from NRA members. Fully 98 percent of the NRA's members rate the organization favorably.

Clement is a polling analyst with Capital Insight, the independent polling group of Washington Post Media.

Scott Clement is the polling manager at The Washington Post, specializing in public opinion about politics, election campaigns and public policy.

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