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. Rob_KY

    This guy probably still doesn't trust the presidential polling from last year and is still betting heavily on a Romney/Ryan landslide. Forget the background checks, there ought to be IQ checks to keep guns out of the hands of morons like this.

    April 10, 2013 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  2. Thatguy371

    Typical. Delusional gun nutz won't even believe reality. And we wonder why this nation is in the state it's in now. Loony gun wackos thinking they will call the shots. THEY will determine which laws they abide by and which they won't. And somehow THEY know what's best for everyone... all because of their (sick) 'superior gun knowledge'. And all the while the biggest gun saleman ever, NRA, still blaring away with endless crapola. And the band played on.

    April 10, 2013 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  3. Scott

    Yeah, ok. Just like the polls showing that obama was going to win were hokum too, I guess.

    April 10, 2013 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  4. brasstacs

    I agree ...polls can be manipulated by the questions being ask, to who the questions are asked, how many people are sampled, the area where they live ...In a variety of of ways, polls can be made to fit an agenda..."there are lies, damned lies and statistics" Mark twain.

    April 10, 2013 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  5. Wally

    He's not part of the solution.

    April 10, 2013 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  6. Jeremiah

    I'm a gun owner, an occasional marksman, and from the deep south. I'm proud to say that my grandfather was a US army sniper. That said, gun groups like the NRA and GOA are nothing but shills for the firearms industry. I see so many a-holes on tv and at these god awful gun shows buying up as much firepower as they can when most of it is totally unnecessary. I have a personal carry pistol, a shotgun, and a rifle. I don't NEED any more than that. I don't need a Bushmaster military styled rifle. I don't NEED a magazine capable of holding 30 rounds. I don't NEED a combat shotgun or an Uzi, or a extended clip for my Glock. So much of what is offered in the civilian armory industry is just totally unnecessary. Is it fun to shoot an AR-15? Yes. It is. I've done it. Should anybody be able to just walk up to a store counter and purchase one because they can afford it? Hell no. It's harder to get a driver's license than it is to purchase a firearm whose sole purpose is to maximize the capability of one person to kill another. That is INSANE. Firearms are dangerous. They command respect and dedication to be used correctly. They are not toys, nor are they items to display to friends or show off. They are tools and rigorous training to use them should be required.

    Anyway, I canceled my membership with the NRA. They no longer represent my interests. They represent sycophants who have discarded sanity in favor of instant and constant firearm gratification.

    April 10, 2013 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  7. Travis

    Yes. Like all of the hokum polls showing Obama winning the last election were wrong...

    April 10, 2013 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  8. Nicholas Smith

    Gun Background Checks.

    A Russian Officer once said that, "...The only reason we didn't attack you was that you can't get two Americans to agree on anything, and you're all heavily armed."

    Gun Background Checks would probably be acceptable to the anti-gun control folks if it could be guaranteed that the weapon serial numbers are not included in the Gun Background Checks.

    What is a "Gun Background Check?" A Gun Background Check is a request for buyer personal history information from the gun dealer to the law enforcement agency of the Federal Government Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF). The purchaser and dealer complete a Federal Form 4473, and NICS (National Instant Criminal Background Check System). If the person wanting to buy the gun is cleared by the ATF then the gun dealer is by law allowed to sell them the gun.

    The problem for anti-gun control folks is that the Gun Background Check is tied to the serial number of the gun, and the anti-gun control folks believe that the government cannot have that information that they consider a violation of their 2nd Amendment Rights.

    This is worth repeating.

    Make no mistake, Gun Background Checks are de facto Gun Registration. The dealer keeps the Gun Background Check Forms, but the gun serial numbers are forever tied to the buyer through these Forms, and in case of invasion, the first thing the enemy would do is to get those Forms then to get the weapons. Just like in the movie "Red Dawn." And, a disarmed public is an enslaved public.

    Now, if you doubt this Gun Background Check information, call your local gun dealer and ask about it.

    Gun Registration is unconstitutional, therefore de facto Gun Registration Gun Background Checks are unconstitutional. QED.

    April 10, 2013 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  9. charles bowen

    We need to Disban the NRA they Have No Rational Agenda....Guns Are For Killing not toys Grow Up You Freaks...Charles Bowen Solomon Stone

    April 10, 2013 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  10. Troglodytes Entertaining All

    Another right-wing conservative in complete denial of reality... Thank goodness Americans are finally seeing through their lies and deception..

    April 10, 2013 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  11. tg3043

    the figures for the 90% favoring background checks comes from a Quinnipiac poll that was done the last week of march-beginning of april, 1,711 people from 6 states (NY, NJ, PA, OH,FL, and CT). NY and CT both recently passed strict gun control laws, all 6 are considered to be controlled by the democrats. Last I checked, we have a population of over 312 million people living in the US. So, tell me, How can you compare the 90% figure from a small poll with how the rest of the country feels about this issue. Let me put in another perspective, the poll from 1994 that the administration was using to say that 40% of all firearms what were sold without a background check comprised of bout 2600 people, of those 251 one those actually answered the question about firearms and of those, about 35% said that they didn't do a background check. But the poll had a +/- of 4, so the % was rounded up to an even 40%. Yet the administration and the MSM had no problem using the figures without revealing the rest of the data.

    April 10, 2013 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  12. iconoclast1

    Oh, my God. This is funny. He doesn't believe the polls, just as Republicans didn't trust the polls, or the employment numbers for that matter, before the election. The right just absolutely can't let reality interfere in any way with their delusions. It was embarrassing enough when Romney didn't even prepare a concession speech (and Obama won all the electoral votes he needed with a margin of at least 5% in the states that put him over the top).

    April 10, 2013 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  13. iconoclast1

    Oh, my God. So, he doesn't believe the polls, just like Romney? Romney didn't even prepare a concession speech and yet Obama won every state he needed for an electoral victory by at least 5%. Is this a prerequisite for membership in the GOP and right-wing America: you must prefer your delusions over reality?

    April 10, 2013 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  14. tg3043

    Here is the information on the poll that is listed in this article, it was buried at the bottom of the article that was posted the day of the survey.

    The CNN poll was conducted by ORC International, from April 5-7, with 1,012 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

    Yet, this is the 86% that they are discussing – 1,012 people that picked up the phone across the country on the weekend. they are the ones are considered the "Majority".

    April 10, 2013 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  15. Sp

    Why interview an unbelievably stupid person who believes in nothing but himself and waste time?

    April 10, 2013 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  16. bo

    liberal garbage infringement

    April 10, 2013 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  17. amazed2

    Another idiotic right winger.... why waste the space.

    April 10, 2013 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  18. Thomas

    Ten months after being released from a mental institution, the suspect in the slaying of a West Virginia sheriff was able to purchase a gun that authorities say was used in the crime because his mental health information was not entered in to a federal database, a source with knowledge of the investigation tells CNN.

    "Your polls are hokum ?

    April 10, 2013 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  19. LDH2O

    Didn't Romney say the same thing about polls just before the elections showed that the polls were right and he was wrong? "A bad workman always blames his tools" and a conservative blames the press, the polls or anybody but himself.

    April 10, 2013 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  20. Proud Liberal

    We the liberals of this country are in charge. We won the election and elections matter. That said we are going to "GET" your guns. A national registry is a very good first step. Then when we win the big one we will know where to go.

    April 10, 2013 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  21. vs101

    He must also believe that the polls were wrong and Romney actually won.

    April 10, 2013 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  22. MeanOldMan

    Romeny didn't believe in the polls either and we all saw how that worked out for him.

    April 10, 2013 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  23. JohnK

    I believe majority rule is alive in America and legislators need to be mindful of this or risk losing their cushy jobs in Congress. Minority interests that have no substance in opposition need to be subjected to common sense approaches in promoting public safety and securing individual rights. But no right should be allowed an absolute pass that infringes upon the public’s right to be secure and free from injurious speech or acts. The majority has in the past demanded their legislators restrict your right to yell fire in a crowded theater. And when legislators didn't get it, the Supreme Court stepped in and restricted absolute interpretation of free speech. The same majority now want their police to ensure their safety from gun violence. And they don’t need their police to be armed with weapons the military uses just because military assault weapons are available to the public. The public equally does not need their police to be outgunned by criminals. So the only sane solution is to regulate these assault style weapons so they are only available to militias organized, appropriated, and equipped by State and Federal government. And if the police can't enforce State or Federal laws, then the vast majority of sane American’s are demanding legislation for gun purchasers go thought a background check of criminal and mental health files. There is a reason that files exist to report carriers of disease in order to prevent the spread of contagious disease. Just like the majority of us who don't want guns in the hands of felons, convicts, the mentally ill, or others who have physically abused others in this society. So if you find yourself in the minority on this issue then just get used to what the majority of us want you to understand and start respecting our right to demand these restrictions be imposed on us and need this imposition supported by the majority be respected by you and applied equally to you until you are able to convince the rest of us that we are not in possession of this right granted to us in our constitution !!

    April 10, 2013 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  24. Joshua

    I am all for upholding the constitution, let me start with that. In fact, if we as a people agree to continue to use that document as a basis for our government, then we should follow the provisions and protections it offers as long as they do not violate good conscience.
    This debate for gun control has little to do with law or sense, it is entirely emotional and irrational. I certainly feel for those who are victims of violence and the acts in Newtown were heartbreaking. The reality, however, is that the bill to expand background checks would not have prevented or restrained the violence in Connecticut. The shooter's mother wasn't a criminal, didn't have mental health issues, and so would not have been denied a permit to purchase the guns she had in her home. Her son would still have stolen them.
    If you want to have an effect on this kind of gun violence, Congress needs to put their heads on straight and actually address the real problems.

    April 10, 2013 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  25. jrm03063

    Well here's some good news! I seem to remember that the GOP was in denial of the polls immediately prior to last year's elections! Whether that means that Mr Pratt is just playing for time in his "job" as deadly-weapons for wacka-doodles, or whether he's genuinely unaware that he's about to be handed his backside, isn't important. Still, it will be fun watching this guy take it with the same grace we saw from turd-blossom on election night!

    April 10, 2013 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
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