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EDITORIAL: Gun owners less rigid than the NRA

The National Rifle Association is the political face of the nation's gun owners, a visage synonymous with special interest clout. As its executive vice president visits Albany for a planned Second Amendment advocacy day today, elected officials wary of offending the powerful lobby should look beyond the image. Gun owners are apparently not as monolithic as it may seem.

That's the key conclusion from a poll of gun owners commissioned by Mayors Against Illegal Guns. The NRA is unwavering in its opposition to almost any gun-control measure, but the views of gun owners - including NRA members - are much less rigid. A majority of them support proposals to combat illegal firearms currently stalled in Congress, according to the survey, which was conducted by Republican pollster Frank Luntz.

Take closing the "terror gap." Eighty-two percent of NRA members and 86 percent of non-NRA gun owners support prohibiting gun sales to anyone on a federal terrorist watch list. There is also support for closing the gun-show loophole. Sixty-nine percent of NRA members, and 85 percent of non-NRA gun owners, support background checks for all sales at gun shows - including those by private owners, which are now exempt.

Many gun owners, regardless of NRA membership, do oppose policies that they believe violate their Second Amendment rights, such as national gun registration. But in some important ways they are clearly not as ideological as the NRA. Lawmakers should look past the lobbyists for a view to the voters. hN