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. lcp75050

    So threatening Toomey is the answer? Oh please.... it sounds to me like the man is just trying to help. I can't vote Republican any more because of their craziness but this brings me hope that the Republicans might just have one sensible person on their side. At least he's not so right wing that he can't think sensibility. I do NOT advocate a gun registry and if that's the purpose then hell NO! However, checking on gun purchaser's eligibility is not a bad thing. If you're mentally ill or a felon then you have no business purchasing a gun through a valid gun dealer. I'm totally in support of the right to bear arms but I'm also totally in support of my right not to be shot by a mentally ill moron just because I happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. I don't suspect anybody else is either! I think background checks sound like common sense provided we can get the right people registered to prohibit them from access to weapons.

    April 10, 2013 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  2. ItSoNlYmE

    You may not believe the earth is actually round either, but that doesn't mean it's any less true. I wonder if New Zealand is accepting emigrants these days?

    April 10, 2013 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  3. slaphappy

    Who in their right mind would believe ANY poll? Polls have been so manipulated and made up for so long by the left that no poll numbers they release hold any weight whatsoever.

    April 10, 2013 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  4. ddrew78

    So I have to do all sorts of paperwork to sell my car, my house, etc. But when I try to sell my firearm, suddenly doing paperwork is an infringement on my rights? I think not. Nobody is saying you can't buy/sell the firearm (as long as you're legally allowed to do so, i.e. you're not a convicted felon), they just want the paperwork in order.

    April 10, 2013 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |
  5. Deb in MT

    "Nearly every national survey released over the past several months has shown a large percentage of Americans support increased background checks. "

    And–unsurprisingly–the gun groups' leaders prefer to ignore those polls, relying instead on their own membership polls that show exactly what they want to see.

    This reminds me of the GOP/TP clinging to their own polls that showed Romney was a shoo-in as Pesident. That didn't work out very well for them. I wonder why they have such difficulty in the reality based world?

    April 10, 2013 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |
  6. FastBoat

    What can I say. Except that, somewhere there's a village deprived of it's idiot. That guy Larry Pratt is definately in denial.

    April 10, 2013 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  7. Jay D

    At the heart of the issue, as in most cases, is big money. Anything that will slow down sales is attacted. Hey gun manufacturers, perhaps you might come up with a safer gun instead of including the same safety features that have existed.. oh say for the last couple of centuries. How about investing the vast amounts of money you have earned into a little thing called R&D?

    April 10, 2013 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  8. Cynthia

    Mitt Romney & Karl Rove III similarly disdained the poll numbers and similarly said the pollsters did not know how to do their job.

    April 10, 2013 11:46 pm at 11:46 pm |
  9. The Dude

    Who cares if you believe the polls or not. You are a puppet of the firearms industry and have no value beyond that.

    April 10, 2013 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  10. ariveria

    didnt the republicans say the same thing before the 2012 election

    April 10, 2013 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
  11. Zane

    Typical Republican strategy – simply dismiss and question the credibility of any information you don't like, but don't bother to research the facts or gather even a shred of evidence to back up your statements.

    April 10, 2013 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  12. Jim

    Yesterday 91% of respondents favored background checks. Today it's 86%.

    I favor background checks. If Congress proposed a law requiring background checks, maybe it would get 86% approval. But Congress – sensing a "sure thing" – then attaches all kinds of other laws to the Bill, creating new agencies, spending, other regulations, etc. If Congress could propose legislation that deals with one issue at a time, we wouldn't spend so much time spinning our wheels.

    April 11, 2013 12:05 am at 12:05 am |

    Background checks are the right thing to do. It's common sense. It's proving who you are. If you don't want them then you have something to hide – which means you have absolutely no business owning a gun!

    April 11, 2013 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  14. D

    Sounds like a case of: "LALALALALALA I can't hear you!"

    April 11, 2013 12:06 am at 12:06 am |
  15. Juan Carlos de Burbon

    It's sad that they won't show the questions specifically asked and the respondent's questions. All we're seeing is a single statistic without knowing what specifically was asked in the survey. There is no value in a single statistic. No value in a survey that's not open. It's just a number with no researchable justification. In other words, it means nothing.

    April 11, 2013 12:06 am at 12:06 am |
  16. RealityBites

    Funny how the NRA and other gun rights advocates fearing a government registry of gun owners weren't around when the Patriot Act was passed then renewed. That act violates more than one amendment, and it allows for spying on people without their knowledge. That's okay to give government that kind of power, but don't keep a record of who owns a gun? Allow assault rifles to whomever wants one, then protect that right when an American terrorist walks into a school and kills 20 kids? And yes. American terrorist. That's what those individuals are who commit mass killings on their home country

    April 11, 2013 12:13 am at 12:13 am |
  17. Skarphace

    Only those who want violent criminals to have easy access to guns are opposed to universal background checks.

    Is it any surprise that the NRA wants violent criminals to have continued easy access to guns? It shouldn't be.

    April 11, 2013 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
  18. whatever1122

    This interview just shows that this nutcase doesnt really care about America, he only cares about people who supports his gun theory. Just cuz someone doesnt agree with him on the background checks, they will go after them to make sure they lose irrespective of how good that candidate might be. Is he ignorant, buffoon or both?!

    April 11, 2013 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
  19. Emmanuel Goldstein

    wow.....extreme paranoia from "gun rights activists".......Who could have expected that?

    April 11, 2013 12:15 am at 12:15 am |
  20. retief1954

    America is a complete JOKE when it comes to managing guns and the violence they're used to inflict. Guys like Larry Pratt are a big reason for that. He wants to talk about backlash... how about some backlash against HIM? Pathetic that he challenges the way multiple polls with results against his position are conducted. Same thing we heard from all the Republicans on Fox News and CNN in the weeks leading up to the last election. Talk about hokum, Larry!

    April 11, 2013 12:17 am at 12:17 am |
  21. Lorebina

    The Poll they've conducted, called only to Democrat supporters. Lame questions are asked.

    April 11, 2013 12:19 am at 12:19 am |
  22. emily

    Ah, nothing like a little self-serving bias to help Ol' Larry sleep better at night. What a tool.

    April 11, 2013 12:20 am at 12:20 am |
  23. danielwalldammit

    Wonder how he handles polls when they don't threaten his politics?

    April 11, 2013 12:20 am at 12:20 am |
  24. Hugh Mann

    America, Ya gotta love it....Freedoms for Just Us

    April 11, 2013 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  25. FreeRadical

    "Those pesky little FACTS are always getting in the way of our LIES."

    -the NRA

    April 11, 2013 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
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