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. mark h.

    New gun controles is not the answer as you can see by this guy who just started stabing people in that collage does that mean we need knife control? No whats going to stop this from happening is if we focuse more on the mental health issues that people have.

    April 10, 2013 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  2. Tommy G

    Trust polls taken by the far left media pushing Obama's agenda??? Of course not. Gun owners know the only polls that matter are those on election day. ANd they will come out in force in 2014 and make the Democrats pay for their endless attacks on our 2nd Amendment rights. There are 100 MILLION gun owners in this country. Good move Democrats! Thanks for the Senate...

    April 10, 2013 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  3. rs

    Yes, reality has been a problem with the gun lobby.

    April 10, 2013 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  4. AL

    Of course Larry Pratt doesn't "believe" in the polls.
    He makes his living by refusing to be swayed by facts and statistics.
    the real question is why anyone interested in public safety would care what he has to say.

    April 10, 2013 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  5. Will

    When you don't like the reality of the situation, make up your own reality.

    April 10, 2013 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  6. facts

    Yeah, you know the nut jobs are in charge when they don't even agree with Faux News anymore.

    April 10, 2013 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  7. Jacob Neal Barton

    Why would anyone trust any poll from CNN or any other MSM website. The only people who support them are people who literally have no education about history or government. Others only get on here to inform the people this website takes advantage of.

    April 10, 2013 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  8. lonewolf

    These nut cases do not believe anything or anyone that does not side with them. These are scary people who claim to support the US Constitution, but in the same breath wish to dictate to the majority. They attack any politician that does not support their will. They do not believe in any type of gun control and are quick to try to convince their hardcore followers that some how the opposition is taking away their constitutional right. No one is taking anyone's gun or guns away now or in the future.

    April 10, 2013 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  9. mike

    You're exactly right. DONT YOU BELIEVE IT! CNN's polls have a liberal agenda so you know they're going to cook the poll results.

    April 10, 2013 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  10. JayDog

    These cowards who run these extreme right-wing proto-fascist gun clubs neither believe in nor support democracy. They have onlty one measure of faith: how much profit they can amass from selling guns (all and every type) to as many paranoid and fear-struck buyers as possible. These are indeed very sad times for our democracy!!

    April 10, 2013 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  11. jmp

    He doesn't buy polls, just congressmen.

    April 10, 2013 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  12. BOb the Prairie Dog

    The guy can't do simple math, why should we trust him with a gun?!?

    April 10, 2013 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  13. wwf

    Lets see if he would say the same if they were in the NRA's favor. Bet he would. He should run for office. He would make the perfect politician. Glad to know that the special interests groups are running this country instead of the American people.

    April 10, 2013 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  14. Wildman

    Pratt is correct. Polls are manipulated to show a desired outcome; especially with biases shown by the MSM. There is almost no objectivity shown because the media must remain politically correct and promote their agenda. It's no surprise that we have so much skepticism and mis-trust in America.

    April 10, 2013 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  15. Steve

    I'm just an unfrozen caveman wingnut gun owner power broker. Your polls frighten and confuse me!

    April 10, 2013 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  16. km

    All the so called leaders of the NRA are clowns. They live in fear of everyone around them!

    April 10, 2013 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  17. nugun

    Why do we question?

    Because we know that the media keeps promoting numerous lies about guns. As such, the average individual who trusts what CNN says, assumes they've got the truth. When given the facts, they're often surprised.

    FACT: Assault Weapons are not fully automatic weapons. They are no different than any other semi-auto rifles – first invented in the late 1800's.

    FACT: 40% of guns are sold without a background check is a false statistic. First off, it's based on a very old study. How old, so old it actually pre-dates the implementation of background checks. 1996

    FACT: Barrel shroud is a safety device to prevent burns.

    FACT: Folding stocks are ergonomic features that allow both a large and small person to shoot the same rifle comfortably and safely. Very much a gender equalizer allowing women to have rifles that are comfortable to shoot as well.

    FACT: Gun shows, mostly involve Federally licensed dealers. Most all of the guns sold at gun shows go through background checks. Exception, a few individuals will go with an old rifle or two and endeavor to sell or trade them. These rifles are often the former property of deceased loved ones.

    FACT: If I change the wording of questions, to "Should a husband or wife be allowed to buy a gun for their spouse." Most, if not 90%, of Americans would probably say yes. How about for your son or daughter when they turn 18? your brother? etc....

    That's why we dismiss polls. Because often the questions rely on false assumptions and a lack of knowledge. Usually perpetrated by biased media like CNN.

    April 10, 2013 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  18. us_1776

    True to form.

    GOP/TEA 100% fact-free.


    April 10, 2013 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  19. GooberPea

    Yes. I think we need to go back to the "normalized poll" methodology that served the Republicans so well in the last presidential election...right up until the point where they got their backsides handed to them. "When the polls don't agree with me, the polls must be wrong." This is the same head-buried-in-the-sand mentality that allows a climate change denier to look outside their window in the middle of January (in the northern hemisphere), see snow on the ground, and then say – "see, there's no 'global' warming because it's cold twenty feet away from me."

    April 10, 2013 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  20. Wow1234

    "I don't believe these polls – because they disagree with my perception of reality"

    April 10, 2013 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  21. Greg Smith

    Did not realize that Mr. Pratt spoke for the Supreme Court. There are gun registries in the states that have not been struck down by SCOTUS but that isn't even being proposed. This is just a scare tactic just as the threat to "primary" Toomey. That is an overt threat to any Senator who is considering voting for extending background checks. The polling of members a pro-gun group is absolutely going get a different result that polling of the population at large. Doesn't mean the polling of the lager group is invalid though.

    April 10, 2013 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  22. Zipliner

    Carl Rove didn't believe the polls either...

    April 10, 2013 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  23. Tom

    Mr. Pratt you are as delusional as the Fox political "experts" were before the election regarding the polls. Poll taking today if very accurate and certainly in this case would not be off far enough to change the fact that the vast majority of Americans favor universal background checks on gun sales.

    April 10, 2013 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  24. jkane sfl the gop national disgrace party will be swept out like the trash they are in2014 ?

    The gop stupid party doesn't even know it lost the 2012 elections yet . Guess what gop morons ,your going to lose the house in 2014 and forget about 2016 and beyond !!!!!!!

    April 10, 2013 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  25. Rex Crouch

    I think they keep calling the same 10 Liberals and asking them if they support Communist style Gun Control. I don't know a gun owner who has ever been polled.

    April 10, 2013 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
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