April 10th, 2013
05:42 PM ET
1 year ago

Gun rights activist dismisses polls

(CNN) – The chief of a powerful gun owners group said Wednesday he doesn't trust the methodology of polls showing an overwhelming number of Americans favoring universal background checks on gun sales.

"I'm not sure I believe any polls at this time. I don't think they know how to ask the right questions," Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America, told CNN's Wolf Blitzer during a contentious interview on "The Situation Room." When Blitzer asked if that included Fox News' survey, Pratt said it did.

Nearly every national survey released over the past several months has shown a large percentage of Americans support increased background checks. The latest, a CNN/ORC International poll released Wednesday, showed 86% of those questioned favoring some form of background checks that are not currently required by law for gun sales.

The CNN survey, along with the previous polls, found no real partisan divide, with very strong support for the checks from Democrats, Republicans, and independents.

Those figures, however, weren't enough to convince Pratt.

"Your polls are hokum," he said, explaining that polls of gun owners groups, like Gun Owners of America and the National Rifle Association, show only small support for increasing background checks. Gun Owners of America has 300,000 due-paying members, per its website, while the larger National Rifle Association has 5 million. Both reflect a small percentage when compared to the overall population.

"When you ask the people involved, maybe we have a reason to suspect how these polls are put together," Pratt said.

At the core of his opposition was the potential for the federal government to keep a registry of gun owners, which he declared unconstitutional.

"The background check is national gun registration," he said. "And all that's on the table right now is to make that more comprehensive gun registration scheme than we've already had."

Sen. Pat Toomey, the Pennsylvania Republican who played a key role in negotiating a deal on expanding background checks, will receive backlash from gun groups, Pratt argued.

"He ought to be held politically accountable, and the way to do that is in the primaries," he said, adding his group was "looking for a viable candidate."

Toomey is up for re-election in 2016.


Filed under: Gun control
soundoff (696 Responses)
  1. Joel Gee

    Along with Norm, I have to question why the upheaval over background checks? A background check is already required when you purchase a firearm from a licensed fire arm retail store. What is the difference if you require the exact same background check when purchasing a firearm from an online retailer and/or a gun show?

    April 11, 2013 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  2. Larry in Houston

    @James PDX – - I like your paragraph on "Hokum" – however I disagree with your last 2 sentences – ( I don't want an assault rifle, w/ 100 rounds of capacity mags)

    April 11, 2013 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  3. tony

    NRA doesn't scratch the surface of all the gun owners in America. The rights belong to the people, God given and are NEVER TO BE INFRINGED on

    April 11, 2013 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  4. beevee

    This guy Pratt seems to be a stupid who is totally oblivious to what a majority of americans have to say about gun control. All these gun rights nuts keep quoting second amendment which was legislated in1800s or so when social circumstances were so different than what they are now. These guys are like the bird whose head is stuck in sand.

    April 11, 2013 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  5. Ol' Yeller

    "At the core of his opposition was the potential for the federal government to keep a registry of gun owners, which he declared unconstitutional."
    Yes, It is right there in the Constitution... There shalt be nor never never be a registry of the ownership of thine Musket.
    Just ignore that "well regulated" part like the "strict consctructionists" on the right side of the SC did. What a bunch of Wankers this group is....

    April 11, 2013 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  6. Gary

    It's amazing how people will support a poll that supports their point of view but automatically diss one that doesn't.

    April 11, 2013 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  7. John

    this is pretty simple....the NRA wants to sell as many guns as possible and background checks at gun shows and on the internet will slow that process down.......this trumps any concerns about school children or movie goers getting "mowed down" in a matter of seconds...........86% of America has common sense....as simple as that..........

    April 11, 2013 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  8. Bill39

    "Your polls are hokum," he said, explaining that polls of gun owners groups, like Gun Owners of America and the National Rifle Association, show only small support for increasing background checks." Hahahaha. What do you expect? You and your gun-promoting organizations are hokum.

    April 11, 2013 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  9. Grombar

    Pratt says, "The background check is national gun registration." That's false. There is no national gun registry, and there's nothing in the Senate bill to create a national gun registry. If more people understood that, people wouldn't be so angry about all this.

    April 11, 2013 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  10. TexaSam

    Seems to me that anyone who doesn't have anything to hide, shouldn't be afraid to register their weapons. That's what the right said when the left complained about Bush/Cheney's spying on Americans, right? Personally, I want a gun traced back to the owner after a crime. It'll force "law abiding responsible gun owners" to report a "lost" or "stolen" weapon, which are usually the ones that end up on street in the hands of criminals, right?

    April 11, 2013 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  11. Sal

    Down with the whole republican party! 

    April 11, 2013 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  12. Cinman

    Any other answer would get him fired by Colt, etc. as they are the ones who pay him.

    April 11, 2013 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  13. John john the pipers son

    moving towards a true civil society mankind must remove the fear and lay down the arms.

    April 11, 2013 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  14. Hogan's Goat

    Pratt sounds crazy to me. He has a delusion of persecution, and I would have no problem seeing him disarmed before he goes on a rampage.

    April 11, 2013 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  15. Mike

    Joel Gee
    Along with Norm, I have to question why the upheaval over background checks? A background check is already required when you purchase a firearm from a licensed fire arm retail store. What is the difference if you require the exact same background check when purchasing a firearm from an online retailer and/or a gun show?
    ==============================
    The thing is that they already have background checks at gun shows and internet sales. What Obama and his supporters are suggesting is that they want to monitor all private firearm transactions and transfers, which is illegal and violates our right to privacy as much as Bush's Patriot Act did.

    April 11, 2013 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  16. Tim

    "I'm not sure I believe any polls at this time. I don't think they know how to ask the right questions," Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America, told CNN's Wolf Blitzer during a contentious interview on "The Situation Room."

    -----------
    IT looks like"Gun Owners of America" went out and hired the most clueless person they could find to head their organization, probably because they could force-feed him their talking points and get him to say anything. (I'll bet they bought him cheap, too.)

    April 11, 2013 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  17. gregblatz

    I don't understand the background check for online purchases. All online purchases ship to a federally licensed dealer who will not release the firearm until the background check has been processed. This is already in place.
    The only online scenario I can think of is if you use the internet to meet a buyer and negotiate a purchase online. However, in that example, the transaction still needs to take place via a private sale, so in this scenario, it is simply a private sale.

    There is a lot of misinformation out there and our legislators are not informed on the existing laws.

    I like the general idea of a background check for every transfer, public or private. However in reality it doesn't work for me. Criminals will not adhere to this law. Further, I believe that this will lead to a registration. The temptation is too great for gun control folks to take advantage of the opportunity in the future.

    April 11, 2013 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  18. Hogan's Goat

    When it became obvious that a hyge percentage of right-wing believers are accumulating guns to "fight the government," gun control became inevitable. I don't like it either, but you are planning a bloodbath, and you are targeting people like the sheriff and firefighters. I went to school with the sheriff, and he is a Good Old Boy, but he wouldn't be sympathetic to you shooting one of his deputies under the pretext of "resisting Obama." How about you all calm down and start saying "we really know the election fair, we're just mad" and "we love America and would never disgrace ourselves" instead of "one of these days we're gonna kill you all for having opinions?" Because if you can't calm down, you will be disarmed by responsible gun-owning police, who will probably not be Obama voters either.

    April 11, 2013 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  19. wadsworth

    @gregblatz – Take advantage and do what? Actually come to your house and take your guns from you? Do you really think this will happen to law abiding citizens?

    April 11, 2013 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  20. Eli Cabelly

    Weren't these the same people who said they didn't believe the polls before the 2012 presidential election, and said that Romney would win in a landslide?

    April 11, 2013 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  21. Larry in Houston

    """"Fine let the 8 million gun nuts foot the bill for any gun related enforcement, crime, lost wages, harm and any other expense caused by their "rights". The other 298 million of us are tired of carrying you. Invoke a national registry, and tax their asses, if you can't afford it you probably shouldn't be spending money on a gun anyway. I hate the way our country has turned into a minority rules system so republicans can stay in control""""

    That's why we need to Vote in 2014 !! Send them packing !! (congress)

    April 11, 2013 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  22. Ol' Yeller

    @tony- "NRA doesn't scratch the surface of all the gun owners in America. The rights belong to the people, God given and are NEVER TO BE INFRINGED on"
    How is the right to own a gun 'God given'... If God would have given us this right, wouldn't we all have been born with guns sticking out of our sides or something? That is just ridiculous.
    And what does that mean (I'll skip the all caps) 'never to be infringed upon'.... The US is based on a system of by the people and for the people.... we establish rights and can take them away (remember prohibition?).
    This one of the major problems with some of these groups and individuals. They either didn't learn our system, they are ignorant, or they are insane. Of course any of our rights can be 'infringed upon'... it is just a process that We the People created. It has nothing to do with God.... crack a book, man.

    April 11, 2013 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  23. emskadittle

    I guess he still thinks that the polls that had Obama winning where false too

    April 11, 2013 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  24. wadsworth

    Even if you accept that the 2nd Amendment means that you should be able to buy and have whatever and however many guns you want, let's think about who wrote that. It's not like it was written by infallible gods. These were a bunch of white men who owned slaves, didn't let women have any rights, and just rebelled from the most powerful country in the world.

    Why is it so crazy to thank that what they wrote 235 years ago just might not be valid today?

    April 11, 2013 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  25. JustAO

    We should definitely check these gun rights groups for mental illness. I'm pretty sure most would not pass and should not be in possession of weapons since they believe that it's okay for criminally insane and dangerous people to have access to weapons.

    Can we atleast start the background checks with these guys first?

    April 11, 2013 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
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