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. Han Solo

    You can make any argument when you don't believe the truth.

    April 11, 2013 07:50 am at 7:50 am |
  2. rrjackson

    "When you ask dues-paying members of our gun-proliferation lobby about increased background checks they overwhelmingly disagree and there are 300,000 of us. So I'm pretty sure we speak for all 350 million Americans when we tell you that we don't really care who has access to firearms. A lot of our members have felony convictions and they really don't want to see any changes in the status quo!" – Guy Who Reminds You of the Smoking Lobby Guys from the 80's

    April 11, 2013 07:50 am at 7:50 am |
  3. Moonraker

    Classic "cognitive dissonance". If he believes the polls than he must re-think his gun control position. He has to dismiss the polls in order to keep believing in all of his gun rights nonsense. Anyone that into guns creeps me out. Gun control!

    April 11, 2013 07:51 am at 7:51 am |
  4. chuck

    HAHAHAHA, so did the right wing before the last election..! I can hear Rove now..HAHAHA

    April 11, 2013 07:52 am at 7:52 am |
  5. reckless abandon

    This is classic GOP logic. Plug your ears and yell you're not real until it goes away

    April 11, 2013 07:52 am at 7:52 am |
  6. Anonymous

    what ever happened to objectivity in the press?

    April 11, 2013 07:53 am at 7:53 am |
  7. Moonraker

    It"s like a smoker dismissing all the evidence that shows that smoking is bad for you. As long as you dismiss the evidence you can keep comfortably smoking. I love when people summarily dismiss overwhelming evidence against their position on something. Obviously we need gun control, most sane people believe this.

    April 11, 2013 07:53 am at 7:53 am |
  8. pacchardon

    We believe what we want to believe

    April 11, 2013 07:54 am at 7:54 am |
  9. Chris

    Every word out of this guy's mouth is hokum! I'm tired of the tail wagging the dog, especially when the tail is a fascist, gun-loving moron who could care less about the safety and security of his fellow Americans. It's time to cut extremists like this loser out of the discourse! Don't give a guy like this air time!! Stupid and extreme does NOT, NOT, NOT deserve equal time. I'm sorry, but news editors, you have a RESPONSIBILITY in deciding what content airs. Use some better judgement!!

    April 11, 2013 07:54 am at 7:54 am |
  10. j791

    I think if they put up poll data they need to explain the criteria used. I've seen polls that only questioned certain ethnicities about racial issues. Guess what, the poll numbers were inflated and did not represent the majority. CNN and CBS are know liberal media outlets so any poll they do should be questioned.

    April 11, 2013 07:55 am at 7:55 am |
  11. Kurt

    "You don't agree with me, so you must be crazy or lying." Empathy gap much?

    April 11, 2013 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  12. ModernMan

    Answering "no" to the question "Do you think an unstable mental patient should be allowed to buy a gun?" is NOT a support for universal background checks.

    April 11, 2013 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  13. cedaly1968

    The polls say American's favor more gun control laws, not favor taking our guns from us. Most American's are smart enough to see limits on magazine capacity and the possession of assault weapons as well as enhanced and more thorough background checks as common sense. My friend keeps telling me, guns don't kill people, people kill people. Well, bombs don't kill people, people, kill people, so as part of a right to keep and bear arms, should American's be permitted to keep explosives? How do you define "arms" – weapons? A bomb is a weapon. Logic an common sense have to prevail here. The constitution and the founders believed an armed populace would prevent the government from taking over. I believe the U.S. military is sworn to the constitution, not the "government" so I don't fear that outcome at all. If we want to try and be a more safe society, we need to disarm to some degree. But I guess that is a bunch of "hokum."

    April 11, 2013 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  14. Don P

    The gun activist is absolutely CORRECT. If polls were fact there would be no +/- percentage afterward. Furthermore, most polls are sponsored by a lobby wanting credence to their position and the questions and who is asked IS slanted to areas they know that will be responsive. Look it up if you don't believe me.

    Ask Gore or Dewey if polls are fact, they both lost elections even though polls said they won. The reason the media CAN'T name a winner in votes until the booths close is because polls are NOT fact.

    April 11, 2013 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  15. Z_2k

    " 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."

    Obama, Biden, and the rest of the anti-gun activists think that if they just keep repeating the same mantra it will eventually become truth, vs. the fiction it currently is. That those who are currently undecided on the issue will gradually decide to favor it because they want to go along with the fictitious majority. That's how propaganda works.

    April 11, 2013 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  16. Bryan

    Geuss what, dude? 5.3 million nation wide? Divide by 50 (and thats being generous) that ain't enough to take down any politician in any state! Of course the main users would vote the way they do, poll just pot smokers and they'lll all vote "yes" to legalizing it!! Then vote the general poplulation.

    April 11, 2013 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  17. corpsman

    This guy has a lot in common with some CNN forum posters: if multiple polls don't tell you what you want to hear then they must be flawed. How did that work out for you during the recent election?

    April 11, 2013 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  18. Choas

    He must have seen how well dismissing polls helped the Republicans see the light before in the election.

    April 11, 2013 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  19. amarjeet

    There are background checks for President, Senate, Congressmen/Congresswomen and even birth certificate of President Obama was questioned several time by Limbaugh and Real estate market leader. There is background check for each job in free market. Why not for Gun Possession. Giving power to any individual needs minimum check as responsibility is a trust. Gun owners are expected to cooperate with law enforcement authority if needed. In public life, where individual is being trusted & empowered through a license has t have background check. Even for jobs, new people are given training, observed and evaluated before trusting them with job performance responsibility. All rights bring responsibilities with it. American is a free country with free market and freedom of action within constitution and law which is all in public interests. I personally feel none should oppose Gun Regulations as it protects freedom of each individual, in state & public life for all generations as bona fides are very correct.

    April 11, 2013 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  20. Jim Charlotte

    These two gun groups' members only represent 1.68% of the nation's population. Your ability to do simple math is hokum. America does not agree with the fringe view of 1.68% of the population. Get over it.

    April 11, 2013 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  21. Lee

    If they want my guns, they can pry them from my cold dead hands.

    April 11, 2013 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  22. JC

    Nice argument. Just state that you don't believe the results of multiple polls, especially those that put you in the minority.

    April 11, 2013 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  23. IrishinToronto

    Don't know how to ask the right question? You mean the one that gets the response that you would prefer?

    April 11, 2013 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
  24. z2cents

    Reminds me of the Romney campaign..

    April 11, 2013 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  25. david L. Graven

    I have been saying the same thing they are made up numbers for use by Obama and his lapdogs. I know of very few people that support any of this. And why is it in the senate instead of the supreme court where it should be if you are going to restricts inalienable rights the senate or congress should have nothing to do with it.

    April 11, 2013 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
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