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. Victor

    Of course, a poll showing 90% support for something is complete hokum. Assuming a 60% margin of error, of course. Or it could just be that Pratt and LaPierre have their heads so far up the gun lobby's posterior that they can't see anything else.

    April 11, 2013 02:06 am at 2:06 am |
  2. Drake

    300,000 NRA members vs 300,000,000 non-members.

    You can't fudge statistics so badly that it would reverse conclusion.

    April 11, 2013 02:16 am at 2:16 am |
  3. Steve Harris

    Who is going to take responsibility for the massive proliferation of small arms that constantly leads to the deaths of innocents and the subjugation of law-abiding citizens at the hands of crazies, criminals, and often enough careless but well-intentioned friends or relatives? Shame on you for continuing to let the innocent die while you stand around and rationalize. Seriously. Act like mature adults and take some responsibility instead of acting like a bunch of paranoid twits. All of you. On both "sides" – because we are all in the same boat.

    April 11, 2013 02:18 am at 2:18 am |
  4. Chris

    That's the problem with modern right-wing – if anything doesn't reaffirm their own preconceived narrative they just dismiss it. Sort of like when all the polls were showing Obama winning the election, they had to go back and "correct the skew" to show Romney being the winner.

    April 11, 2013 02:24 am at 2:24 am |
  5. Dred Scott Jr.

    Tell me how this is related to Dred Scott again?

    April 11, 2013 02:32 am at 2:32 am |
  6. David

    Would someone please start a gun owners group for non nut cases?

    April 11, 2013 02:42 am at 2:42 am |
  7. Mike

    Wolf; love ya man... but I want to ask you a question that you wouldn't allow Larry Pratt to ask you because you were talking over him the entire interview. You asked him why doesn't he think it's important to do background checks for weapon purchases to try to stop the availability of weapons to both terrorists and mentally insane people. First of all; I don't think we have a "registry" of crazy people in America, do we? I'll save you the suspense, we don't have a registry of neither crazy people nor terrorists. So since this is true, even if we do background checks for weapon purchases to thwart sales to crazy people, what are we going to compare those results to? The law protects the doctor/patient relationship, so how many doctors do you think would openly break the law and risk their license to practice; just to add someone to a government watch list? People's health conditions, are none of the government's business. Oh, and stop acting like Nancy Grace and bullying their "guests" on your show. You say the polls aren't lop-sided, but you bully your guests and refuse to allow them to answer your questions in their own words, instead, you try to coerce what you want to hear out of them? Bully. You don't scare me.

    April 11, 2013 02:56 am at 2:56 am |
  8. Moot

    The first step to taking all guns is obviously to write down the names of everyone that has them. There should be no way to store the names.

    April 11, 2013 03:00 am at 3:00 am |
  9. Brandon

    I don't blame him. Polls based right after a national tragedy are bollux and don't really represent a unbiased view of a topic. That's how we end up with things like the TSA and the Iraq war.

    April 11, 2013 03:08 am at 3:08 am |
  10. Back door

    No Fear
    The US is far to Selfish a country to act sensibly on Gun Control
    It's a lost Cause
    Many more will die NEEDLESSLY

    April 11, 2013 03:31 am at 3:31 am |
  11. Charles Stevens

    Jesus Christ, I can't believe I used to be one of these mentally unhinged gun rights nut jobs.

    April 11, 2013 03:34 am at 3:34 am |
  12. Chris Swenson

    I have to agree with him on the questionable polls. Very few people I speak with are in favor of the increased background checks. Obviously my questioning isn't scientific but if I can't find even half that are in favor then I have to question the polls and the people they are asking.

    April 11, 2013 03:39 am at 3:39 am |
  13. Valentijn

    Ah, the GOA. The club for for ultra-conservative, marginally insane, paranoid gun owners that need something even more extreme than the NRA. Of course they don't want background checks – most of them would fail a psych evaluation.

    April 11, 2013 03:42 am at 3:42 am |
  14. JerryT

    I believe in cnn polls like I believe in the tooth fairy.

    April 11, 2013 04:02 am at 4:02 am |
  15. Kris Wood

    What a shock, he'd rather believe NRA supplied polls than open national polls. Sooo shocked.

    April 11, 2013 04:04 am at 4:04 am |
  16. Elwood

    Just like all those polls that showed Obama winning reelection. What is it like to live a life some insular that one simply cannot comprehend the notion that his opinion is not just in the minority, but not even close to viable?

    April 11, 2013 04:50 am at 4:50 am |
  17. Julie

    I agree with the polls being fictitious. That is far too many Americans saying yes to them.
    I know of NO one who is for these laws.

    April 11, 2013 04:58 am at 4:58 am |
  18. J.V.Hodgson

    Gee what a surprise he does not believe the numbers or the wrong question is being asked.
    Mmmm the solution dear sir is not to argue a potential mistake or error but to commission your own poll with question you design and have reputable polling organisation conduct your poll and publish the results.
    Then I and many other might listen to you... the above merely is a meaningless unsubstantiated rant of someone who sees conspiracy betwen multiple polling organisations. Equally nonsense.

    April 11, 2013 05:00 am at 5:00 am |
  19. On Target

    You can have my gun when you pry it from my cold dead hands..... But use caution, the barrel will be Cherry Red and extremely hot.

    April 11, 2013 05:29 am at 5:29 am |
  20. ericmpaul

    Public opinion not in your favor? Blame the polls. Discoveries being made that aren't convenient? Blame science.

    April 11, 2013 05:30 am at 5:30 am |
  21. Brian Smith

    The right question, for Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America, is "Do you want all your privacy and freedoms taken away?" – that he would tie to this to add support to his cause, LOL

    April 11, 2013 05:31 am at 5:31 am |
  22. DrDanno

    I"ve heard this one before. I think it was from the Romney campaign ...

    April 11, 2013 05:42 am at 5:42 am |
  23. Anonymous

    I wonder if he would believe the polls if they supported his argument.

    April 11, 2013 05:45 am at 5:45 am |
  24. LJ

    99% of all statistics are skewed to make a point.

    April 11, 2013 05:50 am at 5:50 am |
  25. Daily Llama

    Marxist control of the media. Keep repeating the same lies over and over, exaggerate / misrepresent the facts, pump up the media shills ... and foolish sheeple will believe what they're told. It's just like hypnotism except you're still barely conscious enough to vote 3 or 4 times in the same election and walk to the mailbox for your unemployment check(s) and S.N.A.P. cards ....

    April 11, 2013 05:58 am at 5:58 am |
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