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. mjbrin

    "I don't think they know how to ask the right questions"
    hmm.....so what are the right questions?

    April 11, 2013 07:14 am at 7:14 am |
  2. Harpomatt

    Why is it that the Gov't keeping a registry of gun owners is unconstitutional? Preventing gun ownership surely would be but keeping track of who owns guns isn't imho. I am a gun owner by the way.

    April 11, 2013 07:18 am at 7:18 am |
  3. Joan Wheeler

    This guy sounds like Karl Rove; he just won't believe what is right in front of his face. Denial, denial, denial. These republicans just won't accept reality.

    April 11, 2013 07:19 am at 7:19 am |
  4. Honest

    This guy just doesn't seem to get it

    April 11, 2013 07:19 am at 7:19 am |
  5. Oscar Pitchfork

    Actually, I have no problem with background checks to make sure criminals and the mentally defective aren't purchasing weapons. I also agree with the idea that no records should be kept of the buyers, HOWEVER, in the current political climate, when trust in the government is lower than it has ever been in recorded history, I think it's highly unlikely that that scheme could ever be implemented.

    April 11, 2013 07:21 am at 7:21 am |
  6. carlos

    Stop with the bans on freedom and constitutional rights. Just say NO to the nanny state!

    April 11, 2013 07:24 am at 7:24 am |
  7. carlos

    No new assaults freedom!

    April 11, 2013 07:24 am at 7:24 am |
  8. carlos

    I've got a poll for all you gun banners!

    April 11, 2013 07:25 am at 7:25 am |
  9. Sarcastro

    Yeah, that's the issue- it's that silly liberal bias that 'science' and 'math' tends to have.

    April 11, 2013 07:26 am at 7:26 am |
  10. Mike

    Yes, the polls are hokum, just like all those skewed polls, which showed Obama winning re-election. And we saw how that turned out.

    April 11, 2013 07:28 am at 7:28 am |
  11. ToldUSo

    Hmmm... a guy with an agenda over a scientifically conducted poll. Who am I to believe? He probably doubts the moon landing, too.

    April 11, 2013 07:32 am at 7:32 am |
  12. Texas

    Gee, what a surprise, a Shill for the Gun Manufacturers won't listen to the facts when they contradict his point. Pinhead......

    April 11, 2013 07:33 am at 7:33 am |
  13. regertz

    The three year old wants his toys and will hold his breath until we let him keep them. Not a problem if only he or his were involved here.

    April 11, 2013 07:34 am at 7:34 am |
  14. nilla

    Everyone knows the only polls that are legit are ones that show your pre-preferred outcome.

    April 11, 2013 07:36 am at 7:36 am |
  15. Reddog

    I too am somewhat suspect of the polls that CNN keeps referring to that fit nicely into their own bias against guns and gun ownership. It's also obvious to me that in heavily populated areas (cities), where there are already strong gun control efforts that are doing nothing to reduce gun-related crime, those polled are more than likely denied their right to own or keep guns and would favor strong gun control measures, where in more rural areas gun ownership is more common and owners feel that the issue is not gun ownership by law-abiding citizens, but a failure on the part of law enforcement to control crime and a desire on the part of government to deny Americans their Constitutional right to Keep and Bear Arms.

    April 11, 2013 07:37 am at 7:37 am |
  16. Benster

    Polls never show the true for or against since they target a specfic group to get the answer they are looking for. We need a national vote. Polls are biased and it seems our current goverment is using them to regulate us instead of letting letting the American people make the choice and not poll results. It sickens me everytime the presedent uses a poll results to say the "Amercan People" have made the choice....not true nobody asked me for my opinion as well as most that I know.

    April 11, 2013 07:38 am at 7:38 am |
  17. Skeptic

    I find many gun owners teetering on the edge of paranoia so no wonder they think poll data is hokum. And why would anyone think that gun owners would think otherwise?

    April 11, 2013 07:38 am at 7:38 am |
  18. Angela LeeAngela Lee

    These gun ownership nuts need to shut up and go away. Let them make their ill-gotten gains from somewhat covert financial relationships with gun manufacturers doing something else that is not as harmful to the general public. If their children or grandchildren were slaughtered in some mass shooting I would have to wonder this point if they would even care or if they would still keep parroting the same crazy mantras.

    April 11, 2013 07:42 am at 7:42 am |
  19. Sam

    He's on to something – the problem is the simple question of background checks does nothing to reflect the reality that there are background checks already. The background check question is being asked to mask what the proposals really include such as registration databases of legal gun owners. Where's the "common sense" legislation to increase penalties for selling to criminals or those who attempt to bypass existing gun laws? Where's the "debate" about the violent video games Adam Lanza obsessed over? Thiis is a gun grab pure and simple.

    April 11, 2013 07:42 am at 7:42 am |
  20. Surthurfurd

    Odd how so many 2nd Amendment rights focused people seem to not be that concerned with the other Amendments.

    April 11, 2013 07:44 am at 7:44 am |
  21. Captain Obvious

    These are the same people who didn't believe the polls when they said Obama was winning the election.

    April 11, 2013 07:46 am at 7:46 am |
  22. El Flaco

    Conservatives hate science, hate knowledge, and hate education.

    Conservatives protect their ignorance like a good Muslim maiden protects her ignorance.

    April 11, 2013 07:46 am at 7:46 am |
  23. Marcia

    Yes only believe the polls that agree with you -like the ones showing Romney winning 2012 election-and you will be going down-after all -even Wayne LaP thought there should be background checks-I believe that statement and he would still believe it if he had not become a shill for the gun manufacturers and really cared about Americans instead of the big corporations

    April 11, 2013 07:47 am at 7:47 am |
  24. Our Tiny Earth

    The problem is the legal gun owners. Not all of them, just the ones who don't lock up their guns. If you're wondering how the bad guy is getting his guns, well, now you know. My gun is locked in a safe when I'm not home. I know too many people who don't even own a safe or even a lock.

    April 11, 2013 07:47 am at 7:47 am |
  25. MikeA

    Of course, if the polls supported his position, he would regard them as gospel.

    April 11, 2013 07:49 am at 7:49 am |
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