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. CueBallSTL

    I think any reasonable person would agree that it's impossible to get 90% of the country to agree on just about anything related to gun control. I'd love to see the questions that were asked, and the polling method.

    April 10, 2013 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  2. AtlJack

    I'm sure he did not believe the polls showing Obama would beat McCain and Romney either.

    Right-wingers are not swayed by things like facts or scientific evidence.

    April 10, 2013 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  3. jodyhall77

    This is not about controlling guns or stopping criminals. This is about stripping rights from and controlling free people. The bill of Rights was put there to protect all of us from the federal government. Whether you currently own a gun or not this is about one of your inaliable constitutional rights that the ruling class of Washington DC is demanding you to forfeit.

    April 10, 2013 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  4. AtlJack

    I'm sure he did not believe the polls showing Obama would beat McCain and Romney either.

    April 10, 2013 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  5. Seth Hill

    The polls are all lies. CNN tells nothing but lies. The President lies when he opens his mouth. Wolf Blitzer lies. Even Larry Pratt lies. The only 2 people on earth who tell the truth are you and me. And I'm not sure about you.

    April 10, 2013 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  6. t3chn0ph0b3

    "Math is stupid. Who needs it?" – the Gun Lobby

    April 10, 2013 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  7. Jim8

    Guns are a drug to some.

    April 10, 2013 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  8. t3chn0ph0b3

    "Math? What's math?" – the Gun Lobby

    April 10, 2013 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  9. Quixote

    Toomey squeeked by in his last race only because he was beneficiarynpf the extremely low turnout n 2010. He os in a solidly blue state that is also one of the worst for republicon dirty tricks . Repubs had a tiny margin in the state leg. And got a repub governor by the same means as toomey got in.....2014 and 2016 will not be good years for hard right consvatives in Pa. Frothy santorum lost his seat by a whopping 19% to an unknown untested candidate and toomey will face the same fate ispf he sticks with the gun nuts and the baggers.

    April 10, 2013 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  10. Bob1god

    Larry Pratt, answer the door, reality wants to talk to u.!

    April 10, 2013 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  11. ted

    Sure Pratt and you might as well add Lapierre to this, if you disagree with a poll that goes against you, question the questions and how they were put together and asked. Sorry, but American citizens want background checks on gun purchasers. If your members are clean without mental disease or criminal backgrounds, then they have nothing to fear. And another thing, stop worrying about the second amendment, it will be fine. You might actually think about the rights of the people, which includes gun owners, to live a life without constant reminders of guns. Use your brain, if you have one.

    April 10, 2013 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  12. Kevin

    Yep, every article on the subject seems to draw about an 80% anti-gun control response. Something isn't right in the pols quoted by the gun control side these days. There was a poll of police officers released this week that showed that the vast majority didn't think these bans would improve crime and many thought it would hurt the situation.

    April 10, 2013 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  13. CG

    Umm, no bubba, it's that you belong to a fringe minority of less than 2% of the population. The vast majority of us want something done about gun proliferation and gun violence. Get used to it.

    April 10, 2013 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  14. Bob

    That's funny, the NRA's statistics are hokum. Whenever someone points out the number of gun deaths a year (the number one cause of death for people under 30), they will say "We'll sure 35,000 people in the U.S. are killed by guns each year, but guns save 200,000 each year" And the "saved" number keeps changing and getting more ridiculous. If you dig deep, you find out how they arrive at that number. It turns out any robbery or police call in which a gun was present (whether it was used or not) that doesn't involve death, they count as lives "saved". So if a burglar rattles a window and a security light comes on and scares off the burglar, but the owner kept a gun under the bed- they count the entire household as "saved" even if they never got the gun out.

    April 10, 2013 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  15. Mathew Keirinsky

    yeah unskew the polls. These people are delusional. It is not one poll there are polls from 4 of the major polling outfits. All of them show over 80% support for background check for any sale. Any sale. In favor also of banning the damn assault weapons.

    April 10, 2013 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  16. Andrew Vrba

    Translations: The results aren't what I want them to be, therefore the poll is "hokum".

    April 10, 2013 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  17. erivera63

    well of course they disagree with the poll..It doesn't favor their side..If it did, they would agree..That's usually how it works.

    April 10, 2013 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  18. tony

    Sounds like the NRA would rather the US have a dictatorship than a democracy.

    Funny that's what the second amendment is supposed to be designed to prevent.

    April 10, 2013 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  19. who you calling big nose?

    Reminiscent of "unskewed polls" during the election. Conservatives continually think they can alter reality by stubbornly insisting it aint so. Must be that lack of science education....

    April 10, 2013 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  20. Jack

    "A man only hears what he want to hear disregards the rest" from "The Boxer"

    Kind of Sad!

    April 10, 2013 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  21. sick and tired of being sick and tired

    Reminiscent of "unskewed polls" during the election. Conservatives continually think they can alter reality by stubbornly insisting it ain't so. Must be that lack of science education...

    April 10, 2013 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  22. Florida

    OK, he doesn't agree with polling data. How about reality? If your gun is discharged and wounds or kills someone, at a MINIMUM there is a 9 out of 10 chance the owner of the gun knew the victim. This is a soft number. The real numbers are FAR greater that the owner knew the victim. But these are facts based off crime reports, not polls. One more number, if the gun is discharged, chances are that the gun owner (50% of the time) was acting in a a suicide attempt. Nobody wants to talk about these REAL numbers. Nobody in this country is trying to take away your guns. That is just NRA noise. But if you OWN a gun, you need to know that you just raised the chances that you will kill yourself, or someone will use your gun to hurt/kill someone you know by a factor of nine. That is real. Your choice. Read a newspaper.

    April 10, 2013 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  23. Tyler Banks


    April 10, 2013 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  24. ericgoestoholland

    The fact that they used the word "hokum" tells me they're losing the battle...

    April 10, 2013 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  25. MaryM

    Of course he does. He, the NRA leadership, Wayne LaPierre and the gun manufacturers don't want to hear what the Majority of Americans want. The NRA just wants more guns, sell more guns, LaPierre says the hell with the lives of Children

    April 10, 2013 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
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