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. presisamonkey

    that's because the polls are fake and skewed. the media wouldn't distort the truth now would they CNN?

    April 10, 2013 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  2. ep

    I saw the interview.. Hard to get Wolf hot-under-the-collar but this guy is a real idiot. Sure the polls can be wrong, ask President Romney, but 91 to 8? C’mon! Also I must point out his hypocrisy (and of many others these days) when he is saying that this specific measure would not have helped preventing Newtown. Possibly true, but we got to this point by removing the abolition of the “extra-sized-magazine” and the so called “assault weapons” ban from the current proposals. The banning of those would have prevented or at least would have limited the carnage of Newtown. The technique here seems to be working this time as well: progressively reduce the argument to a point where it is easily dismissed completely by highlighting its ineffectiveness, then move on… This is how we got to 300 million weapons and 30,000 people dead from guns every year… Possibly too late to do anything about it at this time other than arming the smaller portion of the population still unarmed and watch the results…

    April 10, 2013 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  3. yogi

    Sure if you don't like numbers just say the polls are wrong. I have heard just about any excuse from the gun lovers, none of them admit what tragedies the thousands of gun deaths each month really are. We are far away from civilization in this nation with such an obscene fascination with guns.

    April 10, 2013 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  4. CW

    This is like asking if Americans are for clean air. Shock! 90% are for it (even some Republicans -gasp). How about including the details of the legislation proposed in the poll. Your numbers will change.

    April 10, 2013 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  5. kineticontrol

    I believe gun control should be directly proportional to the amount of responsibility required to use a gun. If you go to the shooting range every week, then maybe consider a pistol. If not or if you want a better home defense weapon, get a shot gun. If you are not very proficient with a pistol/rifle, then you can't effectively defend your self. Also keep in mind if you shoot a rifle or pistol in a house and miss(even once), the rest of your house/ or your neighbors won't stop that bullet or make it any less deadly. This is the reason kids are often hurt in drive by shootings. They weren't outside or in line of sight, they were inside a house and happened to get hit. Any wall would stop a shotgun(bird shot) or slow it to a nonlethal velocity. Though the safest thing on all accounts is to call the cops and climb outside through a window.

    April 10, 2013 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  6. Joe in Kalispell

    As Mark Twain once said, There are Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics. That is a pretty good description of a poll.

    April 10, 2013 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  7. Hank F

    When the facts don't fit your point of view, doubt the facts. Oh, polling is an inexact science to be sure, but I doubt this person would believe them no matter how they were conducted. As was once said, it's hard to convince someone of something they are being paid not to believe.

    April 10, 2013 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  8. kineticontrol

    I believe gun control should be directly proportional to the amount of responsibility required to use a gun. If you go to the shooting range every week, then maybe consider a pistol. If not or if you want a better home defense weapon, get a shot gun. If you are not very proficient with a pistol/rifle, then you can't effectively defend your self. Also keep in mind if you shoot a rifle or pistol in a house and miss(even once), the rest of your house/ or your neighbors won't stop that bullet or make it any less deadly. This is the reason kids are often hurt in drive by shootings. They weren't outside or in line of sight, they were inside a house and happened to get hit. Any wall would stop a shotgun(bird shot) or slow it to a nonlethal velocity. Though the safest thing on all accounts is to call the cops and climb outside through a window.

    April 10, 2013 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  9. mlblogscbgoldsmith

    Reason / Polls / Logic ... if they don't matter you know you're a zealot engaged in magical thinking.

    April 10, 2013 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  10. Victor

    Obama is purposefully using skewed information. For instance, I hear a lot of people here talking about how "40% of gun sales are done privately without background checks."
    This is pure fiction. Obama is repeating this little soundbyte over and over again. Here is the problem
    That "40%" was taken from a poll conducted on a short sample size, and was conducted over a period of time, part of which was BEFORE THERE WAS A REQUIREMENT FOR ANY BACKGROUND CHECKS WHATSOEVER.
    This survey is over 20 years old, and is COMPLETELY INAPPROPRIATE to be used how Obama is using it. But there you go. Skewed, biased "facts" that are being reported, and when the NRA refutes them with real data, the NRA is villified, with the mainstream media such as CNN going so far as to call the NRA "cowardly".
    For shame.

    April 10, 2013 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  11. Studypeople

    Way to go. Can't handle the facts? Then just dismiss them.

    April 10, 2013 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  12. Gyrogearloose

    Actually, I think the polls underestimate the support for gun controls. It's the NRA, and the Republicans in Congress who are out of touch with the American public. I've voted Republican most of my life, and now have little in common with the GOP.

    April 10, 2013 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  13. bob

    If he doesn't believe the polls. Then is he willing to let gun control matters be decided by national referendums. Since he's not worried about the polls he should be willing to let the issue be decided by that. Money says he won't agree to that.

    April 10, 2013 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  14. Skeeve

    When did I hear last this "I don't believe no polls of yours" line? Right before Obama's re-election..... keep "not believing"

    April 10, 2013 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  15. Marcus Takatoa

    People can craft a poll to get any result they wish.

    April 10, 2013 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  16. mike hunt

    Polls also said Romney would win the election.

    April 10, 2013 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  17. rep

    None of the Romney supporters believed the polls that said he was losing either. No surprise here.

    April 10, 2013 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  18. JJ

    USA to head of "gun group": Look into my eye. See that one? The other one doesn't care what you buy or don't buy, useless. Shoo. Back under your rock.

    April 10, 2013 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  19. I don't buy the crap that comes out of the NRA, either

    So what's his point? At least the polls are grounded in REALITY.

    April 10, 2013 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  20. Andrew

    Funny, Mitt Romney didn't believe in polls either, well polls that didn't go his way and we all know how that ended.

    April 10, 2013 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  21. craig

    Actually if I were to lack trust in a poll, it would be anything done by the NRA. I can see the question now: "Do you think the government should pass a new law to take away your right to purchase or own a firearm?"

    Yeah, a question like that will come up with really accurate results, but not remotely relevant to the discussion.

    April 10, 2013 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  22. bribarian

    The polls are clearly CNN/marxist propaganda.

    April 10, 2013 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  23. asdrel

    Mr. Pratt seems to be in denial. Basing his opinion that national polls are "hokum" on the results of polls from the members of the NRA and the Gun Owners of America, which comprise less than 2%of the population, is like making conclusion on President Obama's support based on polls taken only from Tea Party members. I could come to conclusions I like if I only ask people who I know already agree with me.

    April 10, 2013 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  24. Hunter Henry

    Perfect example of why we think machine gun/assault weapon advocates are clowns.

    April 10, 2013 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  25. MD2BE

    "It doesn't fit my agenda so it must be false"

    April 10, 2013 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
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