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. coyoteliberty

    You know, if the Koreans actually get a nuke off and it hits Hawaii or the west coast, whether it actually hits or not, in the ensuing civil disorder and chaos, there will be a lot of gun control advocates who are going to wish they had a military style assault weapon and high capacity magazine for self defense.

    April 11, 2013 05:58 am at 5:58 am |
  2. The fact of the matter

    "I don't think they know how to ask the right questions..." ... of the right people.

    April 11, 2013 05:59 am at 5:59 am |
  3. Jason

    Please. Please. Help remove Toomey from office. Signed – Pennsylvania Democrat.

    April 11, 2013 06:05 am at 6:05 am |
  4. biff mcguzzle

    II am a Democrat who will be contributing to Pat Toomey's re election primary campaign. Imagine, a politician who listens to the voters instead of a special interest group.

    April 11, 2013 06:12 am at 6:12 am |
  5. JDudg

    Are these the same people who said the election polls were lying and Romney would win by a landslide?

    April 11, 2013 06:18 am at 6:18 am |
  6. Bob

    Claiming that 90% of America favors background checks based on a poll of 800 people is a bit silly. I'm sure the majority of Americans do, but the sampling size of these polls is tiny and they were designed to do 1 thing...get people to say yes.

    April 11, 2013 06:20 am at 6:20 am |
  7. SC

    These NRA guys are delusional. Look @ the one with NRA president & Anderson Cooper. Stop @ 4:31 and listen what the NRA guy said. "Most studies on private guns sales ...." You don't even know who sell it, who buy it and you don't know anything about that gun transaction and where the gun goes. How would you do the studies about those private gun sales? It's like trying to conduct studies on how many babies chew on all the dollar bills that are in circulation. Stupid indeed!

    April 11, 2013 06:22 am at 6:22 am |
  8. Ajax

    Larry Pratt may actually be a prat.

    April 11, 2013 06:27 am at 6:27 am |
  9. JT

    The Right Of The People To Keep And Bear Arms SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED.

    April 11, 2013 06:31 am at 6:31 am |
  10. Question authority

    What part of "shall not be infringed" does the govt not understand? These polls are bogus.

    April 11, 2013 06:33 am at 6:33 am |
  11. Dave

    I love how they ask if you are afraid, and if you say yes then you agree to disarm. Its backwards talk to manipulate the public fear and this solution will not stop the next tragedy. Our schools deserve armed guards. What exactly do we have our armed forces doing once they get back home that they can’t be asked to protect our schools? Heck I bet it lowers kidnapping and all those sex offenders that want to move in to the neighborhood as well. DO IT, I mean a piece of paper isn’t going to stop someone from breaking the law. Ironically they broke the law to cause us to what, write more law? Um… yeah...

    April 11, 2013 06:33 am at 6:33 am |
  12. dave

    Imagine two poll questions:

    A. Would you prefer allowing babies to be killed by insane gunmen or the guaranteed safety of everyone by limiting gun ownership?

    B. Would you prefer letting women defend themselves against rapists by using guns, or government control of every factor of your life?

    The two above poll questions are extreme examples of how the same question can be manipulated in order to give a desired result. The first question favors gun control, the second defends the second amendment.

    Since the actual question is not given in the above article, we can't see for ourselves if the question was neutral or biased.

    Also, who is asked will affect the outcome. If they only asked suburban mothers of small children, they'd get a different response than asking men at a gun show.

    The "hokum" charge may have credibility, but since this is CNN, we'll never know.

    April 11, 2013 06:41 am at 6:41 am |
  13. Ceasar

    "If your polls don't agree with me, then they must be wrong!"

    April 11, 2013 06:44 am at 6:44 am |
  14. Albert911emt

    When the facts don't support your position, deny the facts and claim the "silent majority" are on your side. Typical conservative thinking.

    April 11, 2013 06:46 am at 6:46 am |
  15. OdeWriter

    Yes, Mr. Pratt, our polls are hokum. Fortunately, we can rely on your information ... completely untainted by the interests of the NRA, the gun manufacturers, or the lunatics who swear that 300 million guns is not enough for a nation of 300 million people. Thank you for your unbiased and informative discourse!

    April 11, 2013 06:50 am at 6:50 am |
  16. Namemicmacman

    hokum, did he acctualy say hokum? whats wrong with background checks. if we had known mommy had a littlee nut case at home and was denied access to guns the newtown tradgety never would have happened. hokum indeed!

    April 11, 2013 06:50 am at 6:50 am |
  17. Sashatree

    I seem to remember another group of people who were losing a campaign and took the position of denying poll results and claiming they were bogus, unreliable, without merit and meaningless and that they were going to win by a landslide.......When was that? Oh, yeah. November 2012 – The GOP/Tea Party! Funny how people deny polls when they're on the losing side of them! Bye Bye NRA – you've had your balls snipped – and we're moving ahead without you.

    April 11, 2013 06:52 am at 6:52 am |
  18. Anonymous

    How will a gun registry stop 20 school children from being shot? This is nothing more than an attempt to use a legimate tragedy for political gain. How about doing something that will make a real difference and REQUIRE the mental health profession to put mental health records on the NICS so we can stop the nuts from buying weapons instead of trying to confiscate weapons from those who would willingly put their own lives on the line to protect those school children.

    April 11, 2013 06:53 am at 6:53 am |
  19. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    I'm sure if the polls were the other way around, this deceitful coward would be pointing at it, saying look at the polls it says most Americans are against background checks. But because the polls are supportive of background checks, the right wing coward dismisses it. COWARD!

    April 11, 2013 06:57 am at 6:57 am |
  20. rconatser1

    Typical...if the truth is painful, dismiss it. It happens to be one of the mantras of the Republican party.

    April 11, 2013 07:00 am at 7:00 am |
  21. bearitstrong

    GOA & NRA make sure you get on the wrong side of this issue.

    April 11, 2013 07:00 am at 7:00 am |
  22. albert

    Ok, forget the polls, how about the fact that with 4.5 million members, the NRA represents only 1.5% of the US population. So based on membership, the US really doesn't care about the NRA. Otherwise it would have a much larger membership. The majority of Americans realize that the NRA leadership are puppets of the gun manufacturers and could care less about the 2nd amendment. Ask the government to forbid the NRA leadership from taking money from gun manufacturers and see how long before they go out and find real jobs. Fear, lies, propaganda, and greed is what the NRA is all about.

    April 11, 2013 07:02 am at 7:02 am |
  23. Green Oak

    This is Colorado Rep. Diana Degette (D). She actually said this about high capacity magazines, “If you ban them in the future, the number of these high capacity magazines is going to decrease dramatically over time, because the bullets will have been shot, and there won’t be any more available.”
    This is all you need to know about the Democrats and gun control. This ignorant women does not know the first thing about guns and yet she wants to make the laws governing them.

    April 11, 2013 07:03 am at 7:03 am |
  24. A Normal Person

    Wow, a typical Republican. He does not believe the polls. I seem to remember a certain person who ran for the office of President of the United States who did not believe the polls either. But of course we all know how that turned out!

    April 11, 2013 07:10 am at 7:10 am |
  25. rootintootin

    I'd like to the poll question that he would find acceptable. Probably would go something like this "Would you support a universal background check if it guaranteed you gun would be taken away?" That aught to change the polling results!

    April 11, 2013 07:12 am at 7:12 am |
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