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It took more than 700 deaths over 20 years for Americans to finally dislike the NRA

Children pictured with a pro-gun flag in Texas
AP Photo/Eric Gay
  • Annalisa Merelli
By Annalisa Merelli

Senior reporter based in New York City

Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

It took at least 87 mass shootings and 725 fatalities, but for the first time in 19 years, American opinion has finally turned on the National Rifle Association (NRA).

According to a poll by Fox News (pdf, p.5) published yesterday (Aug. 14), 47% of Americans hold an unfavorable view of the NRA, versus 42% who hold a favorable one. That favorability rating is down from 49% in March (the previous iteration of this survey), and is likely a reaction to the latest string of mass shootings, which killed 31 people in Texas and Ohio earlier this month.

The last time the NRA’s approval rating fell this low was right after the 1999 Columbine High School massacre in Colorado, when two students murdered 12 students and one teacher. The NRA was viewed favorably by 43% of Americans at the time.

According to a database compiled by Mother Jones, there have been at least 87 mass shootings since Columbine. These are events classified as mass shootings according to the US government. Until 2012, that definition included episodes where a single shooter killed at least four people, not including the attacker. Since 2013, the definition includes all shootings by an individual who murdered at least three others.

An overwhelming majority of the people interviewed in the Fox News survey (90%) said they support background checks on all gun sales, and 67% support a ban on automatic weapons and assault rifles.

The same survey found that a majority of registered voters (52%) disapproves of the way US president Donald Trump handled the recent mass shootings, and that far more voters worry about the risk of a mass shooting by an American citizen (60%) than they do of an Islamic terror attack (20%). Further, 46% of respondents thought Trump has made the country less safe from mass shootings, while only 15% thought he made it safer.

On the question of why so many mass shootings happen in the US compared to the rest of the world, the largest percentage of respondents (35%) blamed the ease of getting guns, while 22% think a lack of access to mental health care is to blame.

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