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. Steve

    Ask Mitt about the polls – seems they are pretty accurate.
    My question – why are we letting these NRA bullies take control over this issue. Our politicians are horrible and are not doing their jobs.

    April 11, 2013 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  2. Kelster

    another gun loving crazy dirtbag.

    April 11, 2013 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  3. EZ

    jack Be Humble – do you get cable in your underground bunker? you guys are crazy

    April 11, 2013 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  4. KJH16

    What is the problem here ? How can you gun nuts have a problem with a background check ? UNless of course, there's something in your background that would raise suspicion and keep you from getting your grubby little mitts on your precious assault weapon. Then you won't be able to brag to your buddies about your newest toy. How can you not see that groups like the one this clown represent and the NRA only profit from the violence ? I guess you all won't start to wake up until someone prays up another school and 50 kids die. Why don't you try standing in front of one of those parents in Conn. who had their 5 year old shot in the head, and tell them that guns are a good thing. I'm not for a total ban, but there are some guns that don't ned to be sold to the public.

    April 11, 2013 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  5. Puhleeze

    When are politicians going to stand up to the gun lobby? These knuckle-dragging nuts have had Congress by the short hairs for decades. The polls clearly show what the MAJORITY of Americans want – and that's background checks at gun shows. Why does that prospect scare the NRA so much that they have to threaten lawmakers about campaign support? Seriously, why does anyone put up with that kind of bullying nonsense? EVOLVE, already, America. It's not 1843 and you don't need an AK-47 to land some deer meat at Costco.

    April 11, 2013 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  6. gladiatorgrl

    I'm surprised he didn't promptly go stick his head in the sand....

    April 11, 2013 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  7. BSH

    What do the polls say about support for a national gun registry? Schumer keeps trying to include that with the background checks.

    April 11, 2013 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  8. Dianne Fix

    Yes! No gun control! And there won't be any. Laza's mom was garbage.

    April 11, 2013 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  9. brad

    Of course he doesn't believe the polls, they don't support his own beliefs. Here's hoping he gets shot in the leg by an unregistered gun owner.

    April 11, 2013 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  10. Vince

    These people also didn't believe the polls that showed Obama pounding Romney.

    April 11, 2013 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  11. 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 fool dismisses it. COWARD!

    April 11, 2013 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  12. Dexter706

    People need to realize these are not political polls. A lot of time and effort are put into political polls whereas these obvisouly are not that way. If a poll were taken in my area it would be quite the opposite result. This is just some data that makes it look like gun control is the way to go.
    Im not so worried about this passing as I am a assault rifle (which is not really an assault rifle unless its selectable fire) and clip limits. These people need to just move to Europe. Just sad to see America going in the same direction of Europe before our ancestors migrated here.

    April 11, 2013 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  13. Arsh

    People favor background checks which is ALREADY A LAW. stop trying to pass new stuff. our government is filled with morons.

    April 11, 2013 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  14. Moonraker

    I love it when people don't believe in "polls" or other forms of data. It's cognitive dissonance (i.e. "I have to deny the evidence in order to keep promoting my dumb beliefs"). The fact is that most of us want gun control. Only paranoid nuts fear gun control.

    April 11, 2013 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  15. Thomas A. Hawk

    Calling the polls "hokum" is both a cheap shot and a lazy shot.

    The people who conducted the polls did a lot of work. The responsible polling organizations (such as Quinnipiac University) publish their methods and their questions. A responsible critic will read the published methodology and questions for each and every major poll on the issue. Then the responsible critic will issue specific challenges to the methodology and/or specifically challenge the integrity and/or skills of the organization that conducted the poll.

    The irresponsible critic will say something like "it's hokum."

    If you are a critic, which kind of critic are you?

    April 11, 2013 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  16. Quori

    funny. lets go with the basis that the pools are right for a moment. Lets say 90% of Americans do favor background checks and a majority favor stricter gun laws. One of the key arguments from the NRA has been that the pools are inaccurate. A key argument from the opposition to the NRA has been that the NRA is out of touch.

    Now this man stands up and says "Your polls are hokum" Just the word. THE VERY WORD from early 1900's origin. Who says "hokum"?!?

    Yeah. Sorry NRA and Gun Advocates....but you ARE out of touch. Your very choice of vocabulary shows that.

    April 11, 2013 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  17. Victor Maffei

    All the gun lobby is saying on the gun killings is: SO WHAT!!!

    April 11, 2013 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  18. Alan Matthews

    Indeed the polls are wrong. All the people killed by guns don't poll. I doubt that the 6 and 7 year olds who were killed would have been allowed to participate in a poll in the first place either.

    April 11, 2013 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  19. Jeff

    If gun rights activists want the Second Amendment enforced, the whole thing should be enforced. It says "well-regulated", yet they cry at the hint of any regulation whatsoever.

    April 11, 2013 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  20. Michele

    I don't understand why 4 million NRA members are allowed to dictate to the other 296 million Americans. This would not even be a talking point if we had campaign finance reform and took our elected "representatives" off the market.

    April 11, 2013 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  21. Ancient Texan

    nugun- Your list of facts are 100% correct. the anti-second admendment extremists lose sight of the fact that there are over 100 million gunowners and just a small percentage are members of a gun club. Their vote will determine the future of the politicians who mess with the second admendment.

    April 11, 2013 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  22. afaquaholic

    simple solution, put it to a popular vote. make the words very clear, no legalize, no riders. Straight forward and simple. The more complex you make it the worse it is. Make it background check only, no persisted data for passing checks, just failing ones. If the person does fail due to a glitch make the due process very quick and simple, and then fix their background and wipe the record of their failed check. Sure bad guys will still get guns, but it will be harder. People will steal from houses with locks on the dooir, does that mean we just say why bother locking the door then?

    April 11, 2013 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  23. Sniffit

    "The Romney camp dismissed the polls too. That turned out well......"

    Many of the truest believers in he conservative base STILL DO. That's the funnest part. They ramble endlessly abotu conspiracies and voter fraud and wild imagings about bussing in immigrants to vote in exchange for some pizza....it's hilarious. They're still absolutely convinced that he only reason Mittens lost is because of some nefarious doings by shadowy groups and, of course, feckless brown people who want to pillage Amurika's rightful plutocracy.

    April 11, 2013 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  24. Deesnutz

    I don't trust any gun polls either, they are really biased and the ones i normally see are always in favor of no new gun laws so i don't trust the reporters either cause they are coming up with wrong numbers.

    April 11, 2013 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  25. Janet

    As a gun owner, I fully support gun registration and common sense gun control as well as responsible gun ownership. This week, we've had two preschoolers in different states shoot and kill another person by accident while playing with a loaded gun. What's Mr Pratt's solution – let's arm all preschoolers so they can defend themselves?

    April 11, 2013 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
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