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. beckyanddrew

    Mitt Romney didn't believe the polls either. You can't dismiss a poll simply because you don't like the results.

    April 11, 2013 12:25 am at 12:25 am |
  2. Kuron

    To paraphrase Larry Pratt: "Don't confuse me with the facts because they are nothing but lies!"

    April 11, 2013 12:40 am at 12:40 am |
  3. Mark

    Typical garbage. I have no issue with gun ownership, there exists 2nd amendment. But to so brazenly doubt so many polls showing the same results from multiple sources just points to a stunning denial of the obvious.

    April 11, 2013 12:48 am at 12:48 am |
  4. just bob

    and that dude still believes the polls that say Romney would win the election

    April 11, 2013 01:01 am at 1:01 am |
  5. tedmkopec

    Yeah, he would like some polls like the ones that predicted an overwhelming Romney victory. You know. Wrong ones.

    April 11, 2013 01:01 am at 1:01 am |
  6. Chris

    I never trusted polls. In my entire life I've NEVER been nor known ANYONE who has EVER been polled on anything political.

    April 11, 2013 01:03 am at 1:03 am |
  7. Ualv

    These are the same people who refused to believe the polls that clearly showed Obama leading Romney, and the ones who claimed that Nate Silver was a partisan fraud. They can believe and hope and pray to their little heart's content but that won't change the facts.

    April 11, 2013 01:06 am at 1:06 am |
  8. bankrupt1

    they can make these things say whatever they want them to say.

    April 11, 2013 01:06 am at 1:06 am |
  9. Kris

    Mr. Pratt is 'hokum'. For one, where in the Constitution does it claim that a gun registry is not allowed? No where. Second, a poll of a sampling of 5 million people compared to a poll of a sampling of a much larger population is bound to more incorrect. It's like only polling Republican's about who has been the best President since 1950 and claiming that it must be Ronald Reagan because that sampling was somehow better.

    April 11, 2013 01:07 am at 1:07 am |
  10. bankrupt1

    a lot of people won't participate in a lot of these research things anymore. that throws the data also.

    April 11, 2013 01:07 am at 1:07 am |
  11. Joshua

    I have to agree with Mr. Pratt on this one. I do not know how acurate these polls really are. I;m a registered voter, where's my say in your poll, I haven't been asked a thing.

    April 11, 2013 01:10 am at 1:10 am |
  12. dljr60

    but you are not precisely defining what you mean when you say BACKGROUND CHECKS. Sure most want the background checks when purchasing a gun. But does your polls are ask about a REGISTRY? You choose to be general with you questions and answers and HIDE specifics. CNN, FOX, MSNBC, not so trust worthy

    April 11, 2013 01:11 am at 1:11 am |
  13. warren dowd

    Hokum. The definition of the iodits at the NRA and the idiots who follow them. How can anyone with an iq more than a soap dish not see through these hucksters?

    April 11, 2013 01:16 am at 1:16 am |
  14. Beefburger

    "Those who trade liberty for security will have neither." ~Thomas Jefferson

    April 11, 2013 01:18 am at 1:18 am |
  15. Beefburger

    NONE of the proposed laws would have stopped the Sandy Hook shooter. He broke 40 laws in the commission of his heinous act, please extemporize on how the 41st would have stopped him. Criminals do not abide the law, they only seek where they will be least likely to be stopped from breaking it. Such as a "GUN FREE" school zone or college campus.

    April 11, 2013 01:24 am at 1:24 am |
  16. judith

    Larry Pratt is in the same deep denial of all the Republicans who claimed the brilliant Nate Silver's prognostications based on polls were terribly wrong and that Mittens would beat Obama. Public opinion is turning against the gun lovers and God bless those Newtown survivors who have the courage to take their argument to Washington. They are true heroes.

    April 11, 2013 01:24 am at 1:24 am |
  17. hjc

    Just like when you poll Americans on how they feel about congress we will usually see low ratings. Ask those same people what they think of their congressmen and you will find they "love" their rep!

    Start polling on specifics and see how the numbers shake out. Get back to us with that.

    April 11, 2013 01:26 am at 1:26 am |
  18. FNORDZ

    Massive denial: "The polls don't reflect what our little group polls think, therefore it must be some sort of flaw in the methodology or a conspiracy of some sort!"

    Just can't accept reality, can ya...

    April 11, 2013 01:27 am at 1:27 am |
  19. J.T. Fey

    Classic case of shooting the messenger.

    April 11, 2013 01:27 am at 1:27 am |
  20. Sue

    Sooooo tired of the gun lobby, and the more these types of statements are made, the more tired I get.

    April 11, 2013 01:35 am at 1:35 am |
  21. Locker

    Typical. We don't like the truth so we'll just say it's "hookum". We don't want the CDC to find out that owning a gun increases the likelihood of death by %300 so they ban the CDC from studying gun violence. Innocent people shot every single day but it's not guns. Dylan Quick stabbed 15 people this week and none of the died. If he would have had a single handgun it would have been much worse, let alone an assault rifle with a few 30 round clips.

    Nothing matters other than the threat to our macho manliness which can only be achieved through gun ownership and lack of reason, empathy or common sense.

    April 11, 2013 01:42 am at 1:42 am |
  22. Rogue351

    I want one person to ask the question of "Responsible Gun Owners". How did do many guns get onto the streets of the United states and into the hands of the criminals. Something is wrong and the NRA id unwilling to address the problem. If "Responsible Gun Owners" are actually responsible then who is selling to the criminals ? If "Responsible gun owners" are actually protecting their weapons then how are these weapons being stolen and ending up in the hands of criminals ? If mandatory back ground checks for EVERy person buying a gun could stop one person from getting a gun that should not have a gun then why is it such a bad idea ? Basically if you are not in trouble with the government, a criminal, planning a mass attack then who cares if the government knows you have a gun ? That is called paranoia. The same old true for car registration, IRS tax collections, Drawing from social security. The government already knows who you are, Were you live, etc. If you have nothing to hide then why is a back ground check a problem. I think all guns should be legal as long as they are registered. As long as the owners are actually as they say they are "Responsible gun owners". The only reason not to trust the government is because of the messages put forth by people like Beck, Limbaugh and Hannity. These people make their money ratcheting up fear and NONE of their listeners believe this. they think of them as protecting the constitution. When actually the constitution would not protect Anyone from owning anything more than a single shot musket if it was held to the time it was written. So, what this basically boils down to is a bunch of paranoid people that know they are paranoid and are afraid because of new laws than they could possibly losses their guns. And the fact is, if they are this paranoid maybe they should not have guns in the first place.

    April 11, 2013 01:45 am at 1:45 am |
  23. ya rights

    |I guess we will see come the next election if they are right or not. Time to vote out any pro NRA gun nuts out of any representation in this country.

    April 11, 2013 01:47 am at 1:47 am |
  24. cliffintex

    Polls depend on how the question is couched...phrased. If you ask most Americans are they for a woman having the right to choose what happens to their body – most of us would say yes. In the same poll, should you ask if an 8 month old fetus should be removed from the womb and killed, most of us would say no. Different groups would ask these types of question to answer the same question, as the pollster is paid by an interested group. Ask yourself, have you ever been polled? That some states don't require bcakground checks at gunshows is a terrible thing. That you should require me to have a background check on mu grandson if I want to give him a shotgun...is terrible idea.

    April 11, 2013 01:55 am at 1:55 am |
  25. budshot

    How conVENient.

    Denial is the coward's tool.

    April 11, 2013 01:58 am at 1:58 am |
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