April 10th, 2013
05:42 PM ET
10 years 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. Hogan's Goat

    Grombar, they used the California gun registry to collect all the guns when they decided to ban them, so it's not unreasonable to worry. Me, I don't think banning guns is anything but stupid, but we have hit a level of population which is forcing us to control them and register them. Collect them all, NATIONALLY? Ha ha, heck no. Nobody's going to do that, because why? Too much trouble and too many legit gun owners. It might get down to where if you get a speeding ticket or fall behind in your mortgage payments, they come for your guns until you calm down.

    April 11, 2013 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  2. JS

    funny how many people that support stricter gun control laws refer to gun owners as "gun nuts" I see it over and over and over again. People that make comments like that are showing their ignorance. The way I see this whole debate is that gun control advocates are simply spewing out false information and trying to push their own agenda on the entire population of the united states. Pro gun advocates are fighting back with facts and voicing legitimate concerns. Concerns over a national gun registry and also the concern to stop violence instead of focusing on guns, this entire debate should be over violence. What gun control advocates fail to realize is that criminals are the reason behind mass killings or any killing for that matter and no matter how many laws you have, it doesn't mean a darn thing if you don't enforce them. Also, criminals don't shop at the same places law abiding citizens do. They will continue to get their weapons from the same places they did before, they will steal them or buy them on the black market where anything goes. The other thing that most people seem to be forgetting or overlooking is the fact that ALL gun control legislation that is being proposed will grandfather in high capacity magazines and existing assualt style weapons. So what positive effect will these new laws have? None, absolutely none. From what I see, most gun owners have problems with passing new gun control legislation because no one enforces the laws we have now and none of the new laws would have prevented any mass killings in the past and they will NOT prevent mass killings in the future.

    April 11, 2013 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  3. TexaSam

    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?

    You hit the nail on the head. Many of the so called "responsible" gun owners would never pass an MMPI. Between the lack of anger management skills, the bullying and the bigotry, not to mention the voices in their heads, none would qualify to legally buy a weapon.

    April 11, 2013 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  4. wadsworth

    @ Hogan's Goat – When were guns taken from people legally permitted to own them in California?

    April 11, 2013 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  5. The REAL Truth...

    @Jesse – OK first off I'm sick of idiots being labeled as Republican or Conservative.
    Absolutely !!! 1000%... the problem arises when the pro-gun posters start the hate stuff assuming those who are opposed to their thinking are Dems or Libs! No true either way, so both sides of the argument are guilty of labeling incorrectly.

    April 11, 2013 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  6. DMG2FUN

    Polls can be made to say whatever the person paying for it wants them too.

    April 11, 2013 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  7. Hogan's Goat

    Stuff changes. The Constitution is also quite concerned about peoples' homes being used as barracks for soldiers. This is extremely unlikely to happen today, although a lot of teenage girls would like it, and was part of why the framers assumed everyone needed guns (to keep the soldiers off their daughters). We used to be able to live through crazy people having guns, but they are more and more dangerous today. So stuff changes again, and gun laws are part of the change. I don't like it either.

    April 11, 2013 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  8. Hogan's Goat

    Wads, it's been brought up a lot, but I can't find it with a quick search. Probably just certain guns, but they used a registry to collect them after a ban. I don't really have an opinion, except that if you want to be viewed as responsible, you should tone down the "overthrow!" rhetoric and try not to admit you think Obama controls all media worldwide with his mental powers and UFO network.

    April 11, 2013 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  9. not perfect yet

    Good one hogans goat

    April 11, 2013 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |

    Check them for GREED! GUNS=$$$$$$

    April 11, 2013 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  11. Kevin

    Polls are not meaningful in discussions about rights. A system where the majority can dictate the rights of the minority is not a democracy; it is a mob.

    April 11, 2013 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  12. Dakota

    41 Laws were broken the day of the Newtown Shooting, from what I read Lanza was stopped from purchasing a gun himself because the current Background Check worked. His mental health professional reported him, how many laws do you want when those breaking the law don't care about the current ones?
    As far as the the poles, I would like to know what questions were asked, today CNN released a Immigration Poll, the question asked was " Do you think immigration adds to our society as a hole?" Well duh, it does our differences as individuals is what has made our nation great, because we can disagree and argue, but yet we're all Americans .
    So am I for gun control, sure.....I control my guns, they're my responsibility not my neighbors not my Congressman's, do I need the local Sheriff knocking on my door once a year to make sure they're safe? No, I am an adult and well be treated like one.
    Judging, by some of the discourse of our elected officials, they know as much about firearms as I do nuclear science....and that is a fact, so while most how are advocating for more laws and tighter gun control measures I would say sure, but lets sit down and discuss this with members of the gun community. We don't need more sound bites like, and I am para phrasing here, "A Magazine ban is good, cause once they're all used up people won't be able to get their hands on these ammunition." Or how about " All a woman needs to do to stop an attacker is urinate on herself" or " In a True Rape one can't get Pregnant" My stars, that would be like me stating that Plutonium is a magic rock that makes electricity. Hey let's ban 32 oz soft drinks large value meals, red meat and bubble gum too........

    April 11, 2013 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  13. scranton

    Reminds me of the polls showing that Wisconsin Governor Walker would be overwhelmingly recalled.

    April 11, 2013 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  14. MS

    We all register our cars, but nobody's all up in arms that the government might one day decide to take away cars from individuals.

    April 11, 2013 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  15. kchhsl

    No one is surprised by the responses and it does beg the question are the right questions being asked. I would also bet there would be a 90% plus response in agreement to the following:

    1 – do you support tougher punishment for people who use guns in crimes
    2 – do you favor that those with mental illnesses be placed into the data base for background checks.
    3 – do you favor an in-depth study (completed by all interested parties) on the issues surrounding gun violence

    I would anticipate that if the gun violence numbers were reported differently people might actually change a lot of their views. If you pull gun violence crimes out that are related to drugs or gang violence gun crimes drop dramatically. If people see these numbers chances are "background checks" become a "so what" response and questions are raised "but what are you doing to deal with inner city and drug related deaths". If pushed to be honest most people are not going to be concerned about gang bangers killing each other or drug dealers doing each other in.

    April 11, 2013 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  16. Binghamton

    Get your head out of the sand republicans.

    April 11, 2013 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  17. Mark

    Want to close the "gun show loophole" Make it a law that only licensed firearm dealers can sell at gun shows. We have a background check system, and it works, somewhat. The problem is that a lot of people with mental problems do not make it into the registry. I think you will find that the same people fighting for more gun control are many of the same people who would protect the rights of these people not to be labeled mentally unfit. It seems society is so hell bent on protecting the rights of criminals and the likes, that it is easier to restrict the rights of law biding citizens and restrict their rights

    April 11, 2013 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  18. David in Tampa

    I feel that there is a HUGE issue with the point that many present gun owners cannot PASS a background check. Domestic violence has a lot to do with this problem.

    No weapon can be purchased from a dealer in Florida without a background check. I don't care if ya got checked yesterday. If you are buying today, you need another check.

    April 12, 2013 05:26 am at 5:26 am |
  19. David in Tampa

    Yepper.....now let's try it without the words

    April 12, 2013 05:29 am at 5:29 am |
  20. srsly

    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?

    You hit the nail on the head. Many of the so called "responsible" gun owners would never pass an MMPI. Between the lack of anger management skills, the bullying and the bigotry, not to mention the voices in their heads, none would qualify to legally buy a weapon."

    Relating anyone who owns a gun or supports the NRA as having a mental illness is beyond ridiculous. Just a few more gun grabbing libs showing their juvenile behavior, spouting their hate for anyone who doesn't agree with them.

    April 12, 2013 05:34 am at 5:34 am |
  21. sifto

    congress and obama should have their security taken away if they want guns to be taken away from law abiding people–they are no more targets than the thousands of Americans killed by guns–give me a break.......

    April 12, 2013 07:48 am at 7:48 am |
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