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. Danram

    Typical far right wing gun nut.

    April 11, 2013 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  2. RKN

    Where in the constitution does it say the people have a right to keep and bear UNREGISTERED arms?
    Where does it say what kind of arms?
    Maybe everyone can have a muzzle loader.

    April 11, 2013 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  3. Alex

    I have guns. I enjoy them. I hunt with (some of) them. Two are "assault" types. I do NOT need them. NO-ONE needs them. They are unnecessary and foolish in a civilized society. They, and ALL high-capacity magazines should be banned. Background checks should be mandatory in ALL firearms transactions. I fear that even such checks will be inadequate to curb the insanity. But, maybe they will help.

    April 11, 2013 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  4. keven

    Don't confuse these guys with the facts.
    NRA = American Taliban

    April 11, 2013 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  5. doughnuts

    Sorry, Mr. Gun Lobbyist. While you are certainly entitled to your own opinions, you are not entitled to your own facts.
    Even among gun owners, support for universal background checks is overwhelming.

    April 11, 2013 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  6. Wake up People!

    Well he is right, sort of..... I'm just thinking about the Fox polls, that swore Mittens would be POTUS. The man was absolutely positive that he would win. I keep thinking back to the last debate when he kept saying, "When I'm president." And him ONLY writing an acceptance speech...... Him waiting hours to concede..... And I definitely cannot forget Karl Roves' meltdown even after all the News organizations had it called for President Obama.

    The absolute best laugh I'd had all year.

    April 11, 2013 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  7. doughnuts

    @mike_- Yes, you can order guns and/or ammunition online. Ammunition can be shipped to you (I think), but weapons are sent to the nearest licensed gun-dealer. You have to go to there and get an NICS check before you can take it home.

    April 11, 2013 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  8. paradisehotdog

    The recent knife attack where numerous were injured but no deaths as of this date shows the importance of limiting the access to guns. Most of the victims will eventually recover – doubtful that would have been the case had the attacker had a gun.

    April 11, 2013 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  9. cedar rapids

    polls are useless, polls are fixed, polls are wrong.......because when we polled our members we found a different result and our polls are perfect, our polls arent fixed, our polls are right.....because....erm, well they just are.

    April 11, 2013 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  10. dillweed7

    Denial. Doubt casting.

    April 11, 2013 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  11. Frank A NYC

    "your polls don't agree with my position so therfore they are flawed!" Perhaps he just does not understand polling. Asking his members, who are gun owners only, would obviously give a different result than the larger American population.

    April 11, 2013 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  12. paradisehotdog

    Math you do as a gun lobbyist to make you feel better.

    April 11, 2013 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  13. This week alone

    On Saturday a 4-year-old boy near Nashville accidentally shot and killed the 48-year-old wife of a local county sheriff’s deputy.

    On Sunday in Lavinia, Tenn., a 2-year-old pulled the trigger of a 9-mm Glock pistol, wounding his 22-year-old mother as she slept with her three-week-old baby. The gun had been kept under the mother’s pillow.

    On Monday — the same day Brandon Holt was shot — a 4-year-old girl in Baltimore was hit by bullets as she sat with her 23-year-old father in a parked car. The father was also wounded.

    And on Tuesday, a 3-year-old boy accidentally killed himself while playing with a gun he found in an apartment in Sumter, S.C.

    April 11, 2013 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  14. soooooo

    the skewed poll argument again....

    April 11, 2013 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  15. Mike Wallace

    Looks like Mr. Pratt is suffering from a severe case of cognitive dissonance. It is scary how so many people believe that math is a conspiracy simply because they lack the wits to understand it.

    April 11, 2013 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  16. harry Baxter

    Really? Let's settle it once and for all, and put it to a vote. To quote Jack Nicholson in "A Few Good Men", YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH!

    April 11, 2013 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  17. rockysfan

    And you sir, are hokum! You must subscribe to the Repub was of angry old white men. Guess you didn't pick up on the election that you're going the way of the dino. Sucks to be you now doesn't it, being in the MINORITY!

    April 11, 2013 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  18. Duke

    Do polls have problems? Polls are paid for and written by, people with an agenda in many cases. But not all are. Polls are like statistics, you can use them however you think will benefit you. If a poll is unbiased and independent, however, and you choose to ignore it, then you accept the consequences for being wrong.

    If you only choose to pay attention to polls from a small biased data base however, you are being willfully ignorant.

    Everyony thought Dewey beat Truman based on the polls, too.

    April 11, 2013 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  19. BobTheJanitor

    The EPA released the names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses of thousands of farmers and ranchers recently to environmental activist groups...then asked the groups to give them back when the public learned what happened.

    I can hardly wait to see what happens with a national database of gun owners!!!

    April 11, 2013 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  20. dzerres

    If poll results are in the 50 percentiles then maybe you could say that a question phrased differently might result in a different conclusion. When your results show 66% or more then you can pretty much conclude, unless you are the NRA, Karl Rove or Mitt Romney, that the people are not with you on this one.

    April 11, 2013 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  21. matt

    This from a man who uses the same firm that the GOP trusted last election!

    April 11, 2013 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  22. Payne

    to the question as to why you register your vehicle. think of it like this, you register it, so the government can continue to tax you. that is simply all there is to it. Therefore the idea of registering a firearm for them to just keep leeching money from you is the same.

    April 11, 2013 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  23. Marv Crawford

    The NRA and extreme Republicans just don't get it! They are both so out of touch with mainstream America it's ridiculous. I will bet that the Republicans will take massive losses in the next election..........which will be for the good of America. Republicans, extreme conservatives and the NRA are will become a thing of the past in the not too distant future.

    April 11, 2013 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  24. Gatordave

    Mitt Romney didn't believe the polls either.

    April 11, 2013 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  25. Common Sense

    A poll of a few thousand people in a nation of 310,00,000 is pure hokum.Let alone the demographic areas where these polls are taken is hardly a cross section of the country as a whole.

    April 11, 2013 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
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