Demographics of NRA

Statistics Square

Ammoland is hosting an article by an NRA instructor and Friends of the NRA committee member that allegedly reveals demographic figures:

* 40% women
* 40% minority mostly Asian and Hispanic.
* Sure a lot of white guys but the average age is down from 60 to 40-45.

He bases his figures on Friends of the NRA, which he claims tally race and gender. As a former committee person, with Bitter being  former committee chair for a Friends of the NRA dinner, this is news to me. Or is he counting the racial, ethnic and gender makeup of his own dinner, which is in no way representative of the Association as a whole? Maybe the field rep told him he’s been seeing a lot more women and minorities. Who knows? But NRA does not release demographic information about its membership.

I appreciate the enthusiasm, but this is essentially nonsense. I do agree, based on looking around at NRA Annual Meeting for the past nine years, NRA seems to be getting a good bit more female, somewhat younger, and slightly less white, just anecdotally. But the stereotypical NRA member is still very much the stereotypical NRA member. I would not draw broad conclusions about what I see at Annual Meeting, let alone a Friends of the NRA dinner in Los Padres, California. As much as I’d love these statistics to be true, I sincerely doubt they are even close to actual numbers.

7 thoughts on “Demographics of NRA”

  1. I run a social shoot in Burbank.

    1 or 2 women. Max out of 39 average.
    The Friends Dinner I attend here. Still mostly stereotypical, but they bring the wives. It is held at the Reagan Libray in Simi Valley.

    My teaching has been Asian and Hispanic majority, but that only reflects the area.

  2. I can’t speak to the NRA demographics, though I do know several latinos who are proud members and a few women. But in terms of gun show attendance the difference between now and just 2 decades ago is astounding.

    Back in the 80’s and 90’s I was a young guy just starting out, so couldn’t really afford to be a sport shooter and wasn’t involved in the pro-gun movement (actually a Clinton voter, though I blush to admit it now). Anyway, as a guy in his 20’s, I felt like I was in a geriatric home for overweight white males. Totally middle class/white/middle aged or older.

    Now that I meet that criteria and attend and work the NRA/CSSA booths at gun shows, I’m amazed at the changes. The middle aged white male is still the most common demo, but not by a lot. Also populating the rows are women and non-whites of both genders and a lot of millennials. It’s not at all like the gun shows of a few decades ago (and less far right wing political crap too). But probably most illuminating of the changes was a few shows ago when I spent 20 minutes talking about defensive firearms and training facilities with a mixed race couple. A mixed race gay couple. Who may no attempt to hide that fact. In fact they were so obvious I wondered briefly if they were a plant to stimulate some bigoted responses and get some negative footage for youtube, but I didn’t see anyone obviously with a camera and after awhile I just realized they were in earnest; they wanted to know more about guns and train more with guns. And no one around them cared.

    The most important thing is probably the millenials. I followed the historical path of not getting into shooting until I was old enough and secure enough in my career to afford it, but many younger people aren’t waiting for that (if you think about it, all the middle age white guys at the show were from my generation and were NOT attending shows back when they were younger, but are now).

    I know we face a last stand by elite billionaire liberals to destroy the gun culture, and I’m not sure the millenials are devoted enough to stand up to them, but overall I’d say we’re in the best shape now as in any point in my life. I mean just 20 years ago a majority of Americans supported a complete ban on handguns. Now that number has flipped.

    1. In the future, you might consider mentioning the Pink Pistols when you run into similar couples in the future: There are many firearm-related issues that are specific to that particular demographic, and other political groups are unlikely to be active on them.

      Politically speaking, we need to be more like your average San Francisco gay pride parade: Sure we need the clean-cut people who don’t wear their sexuality on their sleeves (e.g. Chris Chang), but we also need the people who do (e.g. the Pink Pistols). The media can be best summed up by “If it bleeds it leads; If it shocks it sells.” As such, when they are covering our political activity, it is in our best interest to make sure that the shocking bits make us look inclusive and normal (i.e. Pink Pistols), and not things that make us look bad and/or scary (i.e. carrying long guns).

      As for millennials, I think technology is the driving factor: We’ve pretty much all grown up playing photo-realistic video games, and many of us have also seen the ass-backwards attempts to apply laws which revolve around physical scarcity to digital goods (e.g. copyright law). The former sparks an interest in having meatspace experience with that which we spend so much time in cyberspace, and the latter makes us more inclined to view laws relating to firearms with skepticism and/or outright contempt.

  3. To expect that the NRA would differ in demographics from the public at large surprises me. 77% of the US population is Caucasian, while 13% is black.
    Why WOULDN’T an NRA meeting be mostly white?

  4. So the number of white guys is dropping as membership numbers are soaring? That’s pretty dang telling. I can say, that in my little slice of PA, our gun club are getting less white, less male, and less old.

  5. What percentage of NRA members are Life Members? I’m just thinking that Life Members will remain members until they die, even if they aren’t active shooters or NRA boosters anymore. That could drive the average age up in a way that actually is somewhat artificial in terms of indicating anything.

    New memberships would probably be more indicative of demographic trends, except, that I can’t imagine many people who have been around for, say, 50 years, joining if they haven’t joined already. If nothing has clicked for them yet, it probably won’t. But, I know there will be exceptions.

    1. Not all life members are codgers.

      The first election I voted in was the 2008 presidential primary, and I’ve been an NRA life member since the spring of 2013: At the time they were offering life memberships for $300. At that price, and assuming that they don’t change the annual fee structure in the interim, my break-even point is April of 2025, at which time I will only be 35.

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