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. hubert39

    Pratt... another gun who loves weapons over humans and especially childern. Why would anybody be against back ground checks? If they are they should be investigated to see what they are hiding.

    April 10, 2013 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  2. Skarphace

    "The background check is national gun registration,"

    If that is so, then we already have national gun registration as FFLs already perform background checks. Obviously, we don't have national gun registration even though an estimated 60% of sales require a background check.

    Therefore, your logic is flawed. Some would call it propaganda.

    April 10, 2013 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  3. jennifer in Houston

    Why does anyone listen to this gun industry lackey.. he works for the manufacturers not the american people. The dirty truth is, it's about money not the 2nd Amendment and the NRA leadership are just paddng their wallets.

    April 10, 2013 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  4. Ancient Texan

    Agree! The polls are taken in such a way that the questions are slanted and can only be answered in the desired manner that the pollster wants. Right and left leaning polls are taken the same way, or are loaded with a majority of the party that agrees with the pollster.

    April 10, 2013 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  5. Klaark

    Wow, really? The conservative refuses to believe facts that make him out to be in the wrong? No way!

    April 10, 2013 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  6. mec

    I've been saying this from the start with CNN polls. You have to understand the source to understand whether or not it's a legit poll. However, to most CNNers, the sheer fact that it exists on their website is enough to convince them of its validity.

    April 10, 2013 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  7. TempTag

    I suspect his group was among those who also doubted the polls leading up to the presidential election that suggested a certain BHO was going to be reelected president...

    April 10, 2013 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  8. 703NOVA

    Gun nuts need to pulls their heads out of the sand. Most Americans want stricter gun laws. We don't fear the government. We fear the armed crazies who seem to be everywhere.

    April 10, 2013 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  9. Will S

    There isn't anything unconstitutional about a national gun registry.

    April 10, 2013 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  10. Bob

    Since the arguments are largely about scale...like round capacity and caliber...Why not take it to its logical extreme. " bearing arms" could just as easily refer to biological, chemical, or nuclear weapons. So why not allow people to have those as well? A 10 round clip can kill 10 people... A 10 megaton bomb can kill 10 million people. It's all a matter of scale which the pro gun groups don't seem too concerned about.

    April 10, 2013 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  11. Larry L

    People tend to reject polls that do not validate their views. In this case Pratt wants us to reject common sense. Background checks are logical and nobody really needs military-designed weapons to defend themselves, for sport, for hunting, or really even just for plinking.

    April 10, 2013 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  12. cedarbranchnikon

    A piece of paper will lie still and let you write anything on it you want. "Polls" and "surveys" usually say what the "pollster" wants them to say depending on how much "cherry picking" they do before posting the "facts".

    April 10, 2013 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  13. Diogenes

    >>"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."

    OK, CNN, how about publishing the exact questions used in your "survey" so we can determine its validity? Did you do a "push poll" in which the questions are intentionally structured to generate the "poll results" which you wanted?

    We are waiting . . . . .

    April 10, 2013 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  14. Name Skyblue45

    This Pratt fellow sounds dangerous! A balance has to be struck between what steps we can take to further protect our fellow citizens, especially our children, and how we keep from interfering with the rights of Americans to own firearms.
    For the sake of those victims at Sandy Hook, we have to tighten up on background checks at minimum. It may be an inconvenience for some, but if it helps to save an innocent life-come on, let's do this.

    April 10, 2013 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  15. andi lee

    What polls? 90% of Americans? I have read every article I could find since Newtown happened. I ran across no polls! And, euen the news then (3 assailants, 911 audio, arieal footage, townspeople interviews, conflicting reports, etc.) does not make sense to me...to Connecticut's own toughest gun laws on the books BEFORE the shooting, the school locked down every morning, did not prevent Adam Lanza, who violated every law on their book of law, from his rampage of killing. I hate to think it...but it all seems to be staged. And then to see our president parading these families out as if the circus came to town when they should still be in mourning, and grief stricken parents. And, to read the release of violent offenders, with a whoops, a clerical error. The lines of America is being blurred, destroyed, piece by piece, to the highest bidder, all to be politically correct or fear of offending someone or some group. Religion is gone, Family values, gone. Morality, gone. Integrity, gone. What's next?

    April 10, 2013 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  16. ak_steve

    Nothing like dealing with far right wacko deniers who think everyone is wrong but them. It's a wonder they are so out of step with the American people. They are convinced that their 1950's old white guy mentality is the answer to everything. Pity they never realized that there is such thing as a color TV. They just insist on seeing things in black-and-white.

    April 10, 2013 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  17. chris

    yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeehaw! i really cant stand hicks with guns

    April 10, 2013 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  18. ogletreeseo

    Why can't we just get a gun amendment to the constitution so all these gun people will quit saying things are unconstitutional. We need a new amendment.

    April 10, 2013 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  19. mcannata

    NRA rule #1 – If you don't like the message...shoot the messenger.

    April 10, 2013 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  20. Thomas

    "Your polls are hokum ?

    This guy is out of touch with the real world .

    April 10, 2013 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  21. MV

    Didn't the right learn anything from the last presidential election? Just because you don't like a fact doesn't make it untrue.

    April 10, 2013 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  22. Dan

    It's 300 million SANE Americans against 5 Million NRA nutcases.. Lets take the United States BACK from these minority nutcases that continue to do nothing but push more weapons into the streets.

    April 10, 2013 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  23. theala

    So, when you don't like the results of the polls, then claim you don't believe any polls are accurate.

    That is so transparent it is pathetic. It's an adult version of a kid holding his hands to his ears and screaming, "I can't hear you!"

    April 10, 2013 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  24. stick it

    We must find "someone"who can come up with unbiast results and tell us how they got those unbiast results

    April 10, 2013 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  25. whta

    I wouldnt trust the polls either

    April 10, 2013 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
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