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. TheLostSurveyor

    Take statistics and you will find that polls are incredibly easy to manipulate. He's right. You can ask the same question multiple ways and get differing answers.

    April 11, 2013 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  2. maine liberal

    Sir : here is a poll for you

    I am a member of the NRA and the ACLU. I believe in the second amendment and in responsibility.
    Show me that you are responsible : pass a background check (well regulated) and get a gun

    April 11, 2013 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  3. Anonymous

    Didn't the right in the course of the Romney campaign do the same thing, i.e. they declared that they would not rely on the "lamestream" polling numbers, made up their own numbers and were terriibly disappointed on election day to discover that the Romney-invented poll numbers did not have much traction on this planet. And so now we have a NRA genuis refusing to accept reality based statistics. For more breaking news, water runs downhill!

    April 11, 2013 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  4. Truth2012

    This is truly the Enemy With-in... Fighting the right bigotry, hate and total disregard for any of it"s fellow citizens is paramount in keeping these sick, lying old school hicks from ever being in power again... we are a better country and a better people than what the GOP portray....

    April 11, 2013 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  5. ted

    August – september 2012 GOP "stated we don't care about the fact checkers." Mitt campaign camp " we will continue to run untruethful ads". August 2012.

    April 11, 2013 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  6. Derek

    The problem w/ most of those news polls is that the respondents are ignorant of guns & gun laws. Most respondents are not even aware background checks are already required for gun sales by gun dealers & the majority of gun sales are from gun dealers. They're also ignorant of DOJ statistics which show most guns used in crimes are either stolen or bought on the black market & background checks would have no effect on that. Most respondents also don't know what an assault weapon is or that it's not the same thing as an assault rifle. Most respondents are also unaware that less than 2% of all gun crimes involve a so-called assault weapon or that the DOJ does not believe an assault weapons ban would reduce crime. Such polls are unreliable if the respondent is uninformed.

    April 11, 2013 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  7. Thinkergal

    Toomey will be re-elected. The gun lobby is rapidly becoming yesterday's news. Pratt can cry "hokum" all he wants; it's whistling past the graveyard at this point.

    April 11, 2013 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  8. scarf

    Call his bluff. Ask if he is willing to have a binding referendum on universal background checks.

    April 11, 2013 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  9. Timothy M

    Oldest trick in the book. When you don't like the results, claim they're wrong without any evidence to back it up. If Pratt can find real methodological flaws in the numerous polls (including Fox New's) then he may have a leg to stand on. Without that, he just sounds like a whiner who can't accept that the world doesn't match his own private vision of how it should be.

    April 11, 2013 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  10. liberal disease

    yes like the Obama approval rating is 50% and people who agree with the direction of the country is 22%...how are they asking the questions? makes no sense!

    April 11, 2013 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  11. Bapuji

    The gun and mayhem-supporting Senators should similarly be held accountable in the primaries.

    April 11, 2013 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  12. Donnie the Lion

    "Don't agree with me? Your facts are HOKUM." Tired refrain of the narrow-minded (and brainwashed).

    April 11, 2013 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  13. Michael Vick©™

    If you don't believe in cnn's poll, if you're a politician for reelection next year, make the leap of faith. You can ignore the polls and take the chance that the polls were so incorrect. I believe the polls are accurate. I fail to see any sensible reaction from American watching all these massacres involving assult weapons would say "no, we don't need gun control".

    By the way, why in the world would you want to consider polls done by Faux News?

    April 11, 2013 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  14. kite005

    Yeah registration is a joke. Just like we register our motor vehicles. Thats just big governments first step to take away our cars.

    April 11, 2013 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  15. Rodeo Will

    Isnt this the same group that didnt think the polls showing Romney losing were right....wishful thinking much?

    April 11, 2013 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  16. TommytheT

    if such a large % should be very easy to get the support to amend the Constitution...but let's face it that is hard work and they know they do not have the overwhelming support they claim to have to justify the end around of the Constitution.

    April 11, 2013 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  17. Westsacvoice

    Of course the NRA will only trust its questions and its members of 5 million. They want to manipulate the rest of the 300 million plus Americans. That is how you manipulate the government into doing things for the minority rather than the majority. They will phrase the question in such a way so members would be stupid to agree to a background check. How about using logic and asking if there is a way to keep more criminals and mentally I'll people from easily getting a gun? The solution is always arm the populace is not a solution.

    April 11, 2013 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  18. Michael Vick©™

    I find it amazing that we voted Obama in and rejected Romney, yet conservatives still believe they are the majority. They want wild wild west gun scenarios, they want Obama to accept Romney's economic plan. Hello? Romney lost. But here we go again in 2014. They think the voters are on their side and reject any polls that say what they don't want to hear.

    April 11, 2013 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  19. Danny Georgevich

    I agree with his assessment, with states like Texas, Arizona and all the others with similar gun laws how can those numbers be so high? I live in AZ and my opinion that most people in AZ are opposed to stricter gun laws but for tougher and swifter penalties for those who use guns in the commission of a crime. How about a automatic 25 to life no parole if a gun is used in the crime. That would give pause to the bangers, thugs and nut jobs who seem to be the ones creating all this controversy, not responsible firearm owners.

    April 11, 2013 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  20. Billster

    1. If Larry Pratt thinks the CNN/ORC International + Quinnipiac University + FOX News polls are ALL fatally flawed, then the burden is on him (or his organization) to explain why. Dismissing them as "hokum" doesn't cut it.
    2. The commenters here who dismiss CNN as "far left" scare me. CNN is fairly middle of the road – as is our country overall. I seriously worry about the loss of perspective that comes with self-selecting the information we consume.
    3. Why doesn't the sixteenth amendment garner the same level of respect/support? In my (limited) experience, the same people who can quote the second amendment verbatim disavow the sixteenth amendment as government theft.

    April 11, 2013 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  21. Ferret out the BS

    Where is his evidence that the poll is rigged? In every poll there is a margin of error but most polls strive for accuracy because of the reputation an errant poll would leave behind. They're all in business to make money and the more accurate they are the more business they garner. I would take issue with his assertion without clear proof of false manipulation to skew the numbers.

    April 11, 2013 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  22. Stephen

    Look at it this way. 90 out of 100 people might all say they want stronger background checks. But if asked what they specifically would agree to, what they mean by stronger, you might find widely varying ideas, some completely incompatible. Its like saying 90% of people polled want to get lunch. Try getting them to agree on where to get lunch...

    April 11, 2013 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  23. ted

    Gun rights activists also dismiss the poll America had in November of 2012. The poll that said president Obama was supported by the majority of Americans.

    April 11, 2013 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  24. Herb maier

    To guys like Pratt taking his guns away from him emasculated him. He probably drives an over sized truck,loves NASCAR,kicks his dog and hunts for the joy of the kell. These kind of people are pathetic.

    April 11, 2013 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  25. Chris

    Even then for sure people are going to say they agree with universal background checks. It's not that extreme and people think it's going to help(which it won't). People are so dumb it makes me sick sometimes. Why do I, a 25 year old have this stuff figured out.

    April 11, 2013 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
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