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. Justician

    A stilted poll from CNN?! Say it ain't so! Most recent poll lie..."A high percentage of Americans support gay marriage!" (ENGAGE READ BETWEEN THE LINES MODE) The actual question was "Do you support the extension of federal benefits to gay couples in states where gay marriage is already legal." Hmmmmm...yes I might support that...."YOU WANT GAY MARRIAGE!!! YAY!!! Typical...CNN is the propoganda wing of the progressive movement. Read it between the lines only and believe it at your risk.

    April 10, 2013 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  2. steve

    Pratt is as stupid as the GOP on election night 2012.

    April 10, 2013 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  3. Rick

    I'm a gun owner and hunter,I live in hunting country and 90% of the people I know support back ground check,limit magazine size. I WAS an NRA card holder, but I realize the NRA is NOT controlled by iys members but by the big business.

    April 10, 2013 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  4. Zondar

    I don't mind the check. I mind the registry – the list of all gun owners and the guns they own.

    The government has already proven they're willing to forcibly, illegally disarm citizens. I'm not about to give them a list.

    April 10, 2013 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  5. Mr. Moderate

    Ahhhh yes, life in right wing land....if we don't like what it says, dismiss it as part of that vast liberal conspiracy to take over America. That way you can create your own reality.

    April 10, 2013 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  6. Rick

    My hats off to Sen. Toomey for having the courage to stand up to the NRA, If he was my Senator he'ld get my vote.

    April 10, 2013 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  7. Me

    "I'm not sure I believe any polls at this time."

    99% of statistics are made up.

    April 10, 2013 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  8. Liz1388

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

    The "people involved"? Would that be ALL citizens or does he only consider gun group members to be "involved" with gun safety or violence?

    April 10, 2013 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  9. Victor Maffei

    The gun lobby is telling us, in so many other devious words, that all these gun related killings are a worthy sacrifice for their so-called rights to own weapons. Or: SO WHAT!!!

    April 10, 2013 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  10. S.B. Stein

    Of course the activist would deny that the polls are accurate.

    April 10, 2013 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  11. No support

    Let them stay that way, just like Mitt and company didn't believe the polls. Keep living in denial and keep up with your out of touch views and watch those that you currently support lose office. I love when these organizations are lead by old white haired guys who don't believe in new technology and progressing into the future..

    April 10, 2013 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  12. allenwoll

    The GoA, the NRA and similar groups are dangerous, subversive groups advocating the violent overthrow of constitutionally elected government.upon justifications of THEIR definition and choosing.
    What THEY represent, therefore, is a tiresome lunatic fringe !

    April 10, 2013 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  13. Bertha59

    That's what the GOP said before the November election.

    April 10, 2013 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  14. topperG

    I agree, polls are scewed based on network political agenda....it is so bogus and propagandish....

    April 10, 2013 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  15. Seattle Sue

    I dismiss any guns rights activist. I don't think you can believe anything Wayne Lapierre says.

    April 10, 2013 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  16. pep

    You can't fix "stupid."

    April 10, 2013 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  17. Sam Adams

    An interesting but flawed statement:

    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."

    Only the Supreme Court can declare a law unconstitutional. The quoted person is evidently unqualified to utter such a self-serving statement.

    As for registration of owners, there are all sort of other items that require registration, such as vehicles of all sorts. The difference seems to be the 2nd Amendment.

    April 10, 2013 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  18. Crystal

    Well, it depends on who conducted the polls and where they were conducted. I don't put stock in random polls either.

    April 10, 2013 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  19. Sam

    The whole point of the second amendment is so that in the face of domestic tyranny people can rise up and defend themselves- I.e. a corrupt, immoral, despot takes over the government. (We can argue whether that has already happened 'till the end of time).

    The bottom line is that the second amendment is no longer relevant. Despite you and your buddies drinking beer in the woods in orange vests, killing things, and generally being awesome, you can't rise up against the American government. You have a glock, they have drones. You have a shotgun, they have tanks. You have an AR with a high capacity clip, they have SEAL team 6.

    It is a free country and if you want to go out and kill animals or shoot someone because they want your TV you have the right. Deer don't wear flak vests so armor piercing rounds not important, if you need 20 rounds to kill something, you need to visit the range more often. I don't know why we can't be sensible and require background checks. So it takes a week to get your gun. The advantage is that crazy people and criminals don't get them. Is that so wrong?

    Furthermore, if we banned guns in this country it may take some time to get them out of criminals hands, yes. But if policeman arrested suspects and automatically destroyed every gun they found, there would be less criminals very quickly.

    April 10, 2013 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  20. That guy

    Blah Blah Blah, hippity hooplah!!! Nobody is wrong and nobody is right

    April 10, 2013 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  21. Logical

    I agree that the polls are not a correct reflection of the population that knows anything about the issue. CNN has irresponsibly misguided viewers by fueling a witch hunt that ultimately impacts law abiding gun owners, who prevent thousands of violent crimes each year,not including police. Compare that to the less than 100 people who couldn't be protectected by a law abiding gun owner because the attacks occurred in a gun free zone, which ensured that the attacker couldn't be stopped.
    These newly proposed guns laws only continue to impact law abiding gun owners, not criminals. The government should enforce the current laws, not implement more. The irresponsibility and lack of accountability by our judicial system is to blame for the recent tragedies and numerous others caused by repeat violent offenders. That is what the government should be discussing, not implementing new guns laws right after participating in an illegal gun progra, "Fast and Furios," which forced guns to be provided to Mexican drug cartels.

    April 10, 2013 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  22. Michael Porter

    Darn right we don't believe them... because it's like asking the Amish hat it takes to buy a car, they simply don't know what background checks already occur. For example: "Internet Sales" is a HUGE LIE! If you buy online it gets shipped to an FFL as a transfer and the normal background check and 4473 form is filled out. Why? Because if it needs to be shipped it goes through an FFL. What they are trying to lump into this is private classifieds that become a private sale when you go meet the person and make it seem like someone can order a gun from an online store, pay and have it shipped directly to them without seeing a person. That doesn't happen!

    The "gun show loophole" is where a person does a private sale at a gun show. Some dude is usually walking around with the gun and a sign saying for sale. You walk up to the dude and work out a deal. Sold. The average person thinks that a store can take their inventory to a show and forget background checks... nope, it doesn't happen. An FFL must run the normal sale process. You can make a case for this, but many people if explained it would no more like this than the government butting into a garage sale or swap meet.

    Next, Obama IS LYING! He keeps repeating that 40% of sales go without background checks. It's a bald lie. 12% is private sales without a background check. The other 28% is non-sales to relatives and friends or sales to a relative/friend. This is also from a study done decades ago and the methodology was a cold call of a rather small sampling.

    So really, until we see a study/poll where people are told these types of ways we won't believe the poll. People are generally ignorant about guns if they've never been around them or bought one. Heck, my own sister asked if I had to register my guns in Florida (not required)... and I talk to her regularly about shooting.

    April 10, 2013 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  23. Patriot

    Must be the same lunatic who maintains Sandy Hook is a government hoax. You know, freedom of speech doesn't mean that you give every wacko a platform. Yes CNN, I know that controversy boosts ratings but there is a point where it just plain turns folks off.

    April 10, 2013 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  24. sbuler

    Nothing that comes out of these kooks surprises me anymore. If the polls went their way they would be quoted like the scriptures.

    April 10, 2013 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  25. Distrust Authority

    Toomey is just another sellout RINO. The polls are rigged by the way they pose the questions. I don't know of anyone in my circle who favors any background checks at all because they are ultimately meaningless. Ask yourself a simple question, DO YOU TRUST YOUR GOVERNMENT? Only the mentally challenged would answer yes, I guess they shouldn't be trusted with a firearm.

    April 10, 2013 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
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