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. Jeff

    Why is Obama so focused on gun control? Why focus there, when we know that gun control will do NOTHING to stop murders? Move on to something else, Mr. President. Please.

    April 11, 2013 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  2. TexaSam

    Between NRA & Gun Owners of America, they have about 5.3 million members who pay "dues". That leaves over 300 million of the rest of us who vote. If you're counting team members, it looks like we win.

    April 11, 2013 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  3. TSB8C

    The polls are hocum. I actually got called on one of these polls by AP. The questions were worded in such a way that you would have to appear to support more controls and more background checks. For example, one question asked "Do you believe background checks should prevent the mentally ill from purchasing firearms?" Well what idiot would say "no" to that question? But unfortunately, none of the proposals on the table right now have anything to do with getting mental health data into the current or the proposed expanded NICS system to be checked. So saying I support background checks to catch mental patients trying to buy guns does not mean I support any of the current proposals Feinstein, Obama or others are currently pushing. So I know from my own first hand account that these polls do not necessarily indicate support for any of the current proposals being batted around.

    April 11, 2013 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  4. Anonymous

    So, this was a interview? It was more like an attack. Blitzer wouldn't let the guy finish a sentence. Additionally, you could hear the aggressive (anger) tone Blitzer took. Wolf was just trying to make sensational news.

    April 11, 2013 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  5. RAWoD

    I was called as part of a national poll about gun registration and loophole closing. The questions were straightforward and unambiguous. Anyone claiming that the polls are errored because the respondent "didn't understand the question" or "the question was worded wrong" is either misinformed, lying, or home schooled.

    April 11, 2013 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  6. Dadoo Gozaway

    HEAD IN THE SAND, whistling "Dixie" from his other end.

    April 11, 2013 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  7. Kate

    The Rebublican's keep saying "The price of freedom is not free." Under Bush and Obama, the government passed laws eliminated YOUR right to privacy – law enforcement needs no reason to get your bank records, search your email messages, track your cell phone, put a tracking device on your car, etc.

    And yet Republican's don't want any record they own a gun? You have to license your car, your motorcycle, your pet in many cities, your business, your ability to drive, etc. But, having a license for a weapon crosses the line?

    Republicans don't want women to have abortions without forcing the women to listen to the heartbeat, but, it's okay to own and hide ownership of a weapon?

    Where do criminals get guns – they buy them at gun shows where there is no check. And, Republicans don't want anyone to know they are the ones selling the guns to the criminals.

    Where exactly does the Constitution give this right to gun owners – specific language please?

    April 11, 2013 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  8. chupacabra

    the dems........they take away my guns,they take away my SS, they crap on God.....no way I will ever vote for another democrat,ever.

    April 11, 2013 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  9. Larry in Houston

    from the people I talk to over the last 35 years – more people has "dropped out" of the N.R.A. than actually "Joining" They are saying all they get out of it is a magazine's & other reading material. Saying that they don't need to pay "dues" for getting stuff in the mail, since their "mail" is already full of junk material.

    April 11, 2013 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  10. Jacksonlowerkeys

    Gun Owners of America announced today that they have reduced the deficit far more than Obama. 3300 hundred people have been shot since Newtown. Their press release said, "Many of the victims have paid into Social Security and Medicare for years. Because they will be unable to collect, that money can be used to help keep the programs solvent. We are sorry for the children who were killed because they had not yet paid into our socialist system."

    April 11, 2013 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  11. Truth

    Down with Toomey.......

    April 11, 2013 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  12. RobertOKUSA

    Aren't these the same pollsters who said President Obama would win re-election? Right-wing Republican didn't believe them then either. Congratulations on your second term Mr. President. Stick your head back in the sand Mr. Pratt.

    April 11, 2013 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  13. Jesse

    OK first off I'm sick of idiots being labeled as Republican or Conservative. This guy can claim what ever party he wishes but he is not SMART, end of story. I am Republican/Conservative, served in the military and hunt. I am for gun back ground checks as is anyone who is sane. Please stop labeling ignorant people as one political party or another, because its irrelevant to the issues. This guy is purely stupid, end of story, the news and media need to stop making things political, it's their way of getting us to argue with each other and deflecting away from the real issues. This guy is a moron if he really thinks the average US citizen does not wish for safer gun transaction, purely stupid. Anyone sane wants smart decision being made and we all know people with mental or criminal issues should NOT be sold guns, period.

    April 11, 2013 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  14. seanster5977

    Keep reading the gun manufacturers are against gun show background checks and personal gun sell checks. Why would they care? They are concerned with sells at the dealer level only. They make no money on gun show sells and probably would love to see gun shows abolished to boost there sells in stores. So tired of either ignorance or lies on the subject. By the way, are the current laws keeping criminals from braking the law in regards to guns? If not, why will a new law help?

    April 11, 2013 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  15. yogi

    @ idb
    "Of course the man is totally right. The polls are set up so they reflect the wishes of the president."
    The dumbness, paranoia, and fear knows no boundaries with the righties.

    April 11, 2013 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  16. James PDX

    Some of the dumbest statements ever made by mankind have occurred in the gun control debate, and both sides have carried their weight in that department. The NRA, however, has exceeded everyone combined. The idea that this special interest lobbying group cares one bit about your 2nd amendment rights is hokum. The idea that because the government wants to be able to track something through registration means they want to take it away is hokum. The notion that guns kill people is hokum. Claiming that a basic hunting rifle should be banned because of cosmetics is hokum. Banning cartridges that hold more than 10 rounds is hokum, since most non-revolver pistols come stock with a capacity that exceeds 10, so the vast majority of basic handguns would be illegal. The GOP constantly trying to cut funding for healthcare is hokum when they claim the problem with guns is that we aren't providing adequate medical care for the mentally ill. There is just so much hokum it makes me sick. I'm especially tired of the hokum coming from the mouths of politicians who have become nothing but mouthpieces for special interest groups and corporations, and who now only say what they think will keep them in office. This all makes me wish I owned an assault rifle with a couple of 100 capacity magazines. I could definitely put it to good use while making the world a much better place. /tired rant

    April 11, 2013 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  17. nonamebob

    What is the argument against more background checks? I'm really just ignorant on the subject. On the surface it sounds like of course we should have comprehensive background checks but I'm sure there is a reasonable argument as to why we shouldn't do that, what is it?

    April 11, 2013 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  18. allenwoll

    Many members of these several groups openly voice support for the idea of the violent, forcible overthrow of our constitutionally elected government under circumstances that they themselves deign to define.
    Where does THAT put these people ? ? . THINK about that ! ! !

    April 11, 2013 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  19. Jesus

    Why would anyone not want a background check that would prevent a felon from buying a gun? Of course they could get one illegally, buy why make it easy for them? Common sense. Where in the consitution does it not allow for a registry of gun owners exactly?

    April 11, 2013 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  20. wadsworth

    The gov'ment made me register my car and I just know that any day now they're going to come and confiscate it from me.

    April 11, 2013 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  21. MNChuck

    I would say the polls are more or less correct and this guy is just delusional. I am a gun owner and have a conceal/carry permit. I had to have a background check to obtain that and have no problems getting abackground check for any gun I choose to purchase. It helps confirm that I am not a felon or a whacko. Will that stop all illegal sales, of course not! But it will stop some which is better than nothing. Background checks do NOT equal a gun registry, which I do not agreee with and would probably be unconstitounal anyway. We do need to better enforce the laws already on the books and look at which ones make sense and which don't.

    April 11, 2013 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  22. Hap

    Fine let the 8 million gun nuts foot the bill for any gun related enforcement, crime, lost wages, harm and any other expense caused by their "rights". The other 298 million of us are tired of carrying you. Invoke a national registry, and tax their asses, if you can't afford it you probably shouldn't be spending money on a gun anyway. I hate the way our country has turned into a minority rules system so republicans can stay in control.

    April 11, 2013 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  23. George F

    There is a tendency -

    April 11, 2013 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  24. dd

    Chicago has tough gun laws. The kid who killed the girl was out of jail on a gun charge! The Gun Law Bill first needs to increase the penalty for illegal possession (during a crime) to life in prison without parole. Let us put the people could murder in a cage for life.

    April 11, 2013 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  25. RAWoD

    If congress and the senate do not bring this to a vote soon, We the People should start the project of removing every single one of these cowards from office. Pity We can't begin impeachment of Them.

    April 11, 2013 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
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