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. Loubies from S.C.

    Karl Rove dismissed the polls in Ohio too...

    April 10, 2013 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  2. tammyk tammy

    My conservative rural cousins in PA who regrettably vote REPUG aren't the brightest bunch, but I don't think they are NRA crazy. Yes, most of them treasure their guns and their religion, but they also treasure their children. I don't think a one topic candidate yammering about the 2nd Amendment will move them to vote for the NRA in the primaries. Toomey is safe with PA conservatives and he knows it which is why he supported the reasonable majority on this issue.

    April 10, 2013 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  3. Elliott Carlin

    We live in a bozo-universe these days and Mr. Pratt is spot on...and not just about this particular issue. The truth doesn't matter any more and journalists are merely shills for the powers that be.

    April 10, 2013 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  4. bs1

    There is little doubt that the polls are biased. Typically both in the wording of the questions, not including possible answer choices that wouldn't support the pollster's biases, and also by not clearly presenting what the current background check laws really are such as the myth of the "gun show loophole" that has never existed.

    April 10, 2013 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  5. Gene Brady

    You only buy guns, right coward?

    April 10, 2013 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  6. joe arena

    Right out of the Republican playbook – You don't like the results of (countless) polls, simply say that the polls are inaccurate. See how that worked for the Republicans in 2012

    April 10, 2013 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  7. Paul MUSC

    I actually agree with this person in principal. Universal background checks would mean every sale. Should you have to get a background check on your son or wife if you would like to buy a gun for them or sell them a gun. I do not think so. In addition, if told that background checks would not reduce violence and would increase costs while overly burdoning the lower class and minorities,(like voting id's) to exercise their 2nd amendment.

    April 10, 2013 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  8. 2jivecrew

    Of course he doesn't buy the polls......people like this don't buy anything they don't want to hear. No accident he's being quoted from a Fox News appearance. That network is the grand daddy of cognitive dissonance.

    April 10, 2013 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  9. Lou

    Actually, he should be held accountable in the general election, not in a primary where votes are bought by the gun groups. But that would require acceptance of democracy where you do not get to select the voters.

    I think the real question is how Pratt is put together, not how the polls are put together. You cannot have a conversation with a closed mind!

    April 10, 2013 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  10. badcyclist

    The gun polls are almost as fishy as that poll last year that claimed that Obama was re-elected.

    Mitt clearly won; the ballot just didn't ask the right questions.

    April 10, 2013 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  11. BrianOC7

    Four firemen held hostage by a gunman, a 4 year old boy kills a Deputy’s wife, a 4 year old boy kills a 6 year old, if the guy in Texas used a gun instead of a knife there would be 14 dead people now.…this guy needs to wake up.

    April 10, 2013 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  12. scootfl78

    Better headline: Gun rights activist dismisses reality like Mitt Romney did during the Presidential election...how'd that work out?

    April 10, 2013 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  13. JohnK

    Just encourage them to leave the country if they don't wish to abide by the will of the majority.

    April 10, 2013 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  14. dike

    It is a waste of time to conduct a poll for this. It is more like common sense not to sell weapons to kids, felons, mentally ill etc...

    April 10, 2013 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  15. SanityAndReason

    Sadly, most polls are a a mass of "Bovine Output". Doesn't matter what the subject is, the questions are usually designed to extract the desired response of the poll's commission. To ask the broad question of "Do you favor sensible gun laws?" without defining what is behind the word "sensible" is practically fraudulent. If you notice, most news outlets quoting polls don't actually reveal each question in the poll? It would be embarrassing.

    Same goes for those "studies". Remember when it was common wisdom that chocolate caused acne based off a study? What they didn't tell you was that the subjects actually had to rub the chocolate into their skin before they broke out. While technically true, the way the findings were presented were wholly misleading. Remember when bacon caused cancer in one study? Made big news. But what wasn't revealed is that the mice in the study were fed several times their own body weight in bacon every day. That would give anyone cancer and/or heart failure.

    More recently, the PEW institutes poll that claimed most NRA members favored the proposed Universal Background Checks. They didn't have the list of NRA members, so how can that claim be validated? Polls are merely tools of persuasion rather than fact and most of the time are sheer fiction. How about asking the question of "Do you support gun laws that ban firearms based on their appearance?" or "Does banning guns that look scary make sense?" or "Does a pistol grip on a shot gun make it an "Assault Weapon" and why?"

    Yes, Virginia, polls and "studies" are the stuff of fantasy. Carefully molded and crafted to support a particular position by leaving detail out of the equation and responses out of context.

    April 10, 2013 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  16. bill sims

    The cons didn't believe in the polls in November, either

    April 10, 2013 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |

    My wife and I are gun owners. And we PREFER background checks. Why is this such a problem for people?

    April 10, 2013 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  18. Two Stray Dogs

    I'm NRA, and I don't mind the background checks. But I don't believe the polls, either. The anti-gun crowd seems to manufacture a new "poll" for every opinion they come up with. Its like asking the congregation of the local church, "How many of you believe in Jesus?" ... and then saying a majority of Americans polled believe in religion and consider it central to their lives.

    April 10, 2013 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  19. michael p fink

    how can the media report the polls oh i forgot the obama administration told them what to report and what to say

    April 10, 2013 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  20. abnguy

    I oppose backround checks for private sales. Any law that creates a defacto gun registration needs to be opposed. Gun dealers with ffls already have to do the checks even at gun shows. I think the amendments to the bill would be horrible. These schemes should not be rushed into on the basis of misleading polls.

    April 10, 2013 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  21. mountainlady

    That's 2nd Amendment worshippers for you..... nothing but owning guns matters to them and the wishes of the people aren't important...the safety of children isn't important. These are the most incredibly selfish and arrogant people I've ever seen.

    April 10, 2013 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  22. Ignominious

    I don"t trust the pollsters. Rights are not decided by polls or even the majority or the government. If the government can rightfully take it away it was never a right.

    April 10, 2013 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  23. Corey

    How to fool a Republican? Use facts and logic. I just love when they make that statement come true. This clown is saying well the 5.3 million people we associate with don't believe what you do. Dude the people you are referring to is less than 1% of the population. Even if 100% of those two groups didn't agree with more back ground checks it would barley register. Please tell me there are some reasonable Republicans out there that see how silly this guy comes off as.

    April 10, 2013 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  24. William

    Duh! What else would you expect him to say?

    April 10, 2013 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  25. Kyle

    I don't think anyone take's CNN polls seriously.

    April 10, 2013 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
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