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. Reasonably

    I only believe what I want to believe, not what's real.

    April 10, 2013 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  2. JD

    Well this is a big surprise!

    April 10, 2013 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  3. motorfirebox

    Of course he doesn't agree with the multiple polls by numerous organizations that all say the same thing. The polls don't agree with him, so they must be wrong.

    April 10, 2013 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  4. skipper_sam

    Yea and Mittens Romney is ahead in the polls too.

    April 10, 2013 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  5. dbdy

    The only way to make the background check palatable to purchasers of weapons is that the government GUARANTIES that no personal information is retained after the check is completed except to record only those individuals that are not legally allowed or the mentally ill that tries to purchase a weapon. But this will never happen. You would need a group of independent database experts to examine the FBI database schemas, procedures, packages and functions to see if the background checks are recording only the two types of information already listed (criminal and mental). That database is jealously guarded and no one will ever see these internal structures at all. So until an independent board can review this background check I for one am against any form of it all.

    April 10, 2013 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  6. Norman

    what an im,becile-polls have been proven over and over again to be over 95% accurate. besides, background checks for somethign whose only function is to kill is just common sense!!

    April 10, 2013 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  7. midview132

    I'm a gun owner, hunter, and sportsman. This guy does not speak for me! We are not talking about a poll that says it 55% to 45% and the media is skewing the numbers. We are talking about polls that say 85-15 in favor of better background checks and this guy questions the polls. Idiocy in America when we decide to lie about everything and say that the polls are just wrong in this case. It doesn't matter what gun owners think only, it matters what all Americans think. If I have to go through a grueling background check to buy my next gun, I don't care. We can't give away part of the 4th amendment and say I have nothing to hide then complain about the 2nd amendment, which says we have the right to own a firearm not an arsenal of any weapon we choose. What are the statistics of how much gun violence is stopped because of background checks, zero. Why is that? Because you cannot count a crime in a statistic when it never happens because you stopped it from happening, that being said will background checks stop all crimes with guns from happening? absolutely not, but I guarantee it will cut down on them but we will never know because those crimes never took place, and that is what I wish every parent of any child has to face, your child is safer today then they were yesterday because of background checks.

    April 10, 2013 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  8. John N Florida

    Calling Karl Rove!
    Karl Rove!
    Another of your patients is having trouble with REALITY!

    April 10, 2013 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  9. Aimhere

    One has to admit, every time a news outlet reports on this poll or that poll, they NEVER actually state the exact wording of the question(s). They only report the outcome in the vaguest of terms, like "56% of Americans are opposed to X" when for all we know the ACTUAL question might be worded to make "X" look like the Devil incarnate.

    A poll is only as unbiased as the questions it asks, and the sampling method by which people are chosen from the population, both of which are themselves dependent on the personal biases of the people running the poll, no matter how "unbiased" they may claim to be.

    I really wish any news organization reporting on a poll would state the exact question that was asked and the sampling method, and let the readers/viewers draw their own conclusions.

    April 10, 2013 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  10. pokey5735

    Remember the names of all those who are willing to compromise on gun control. Never believe the polls. They are designed to deceive people.
    Gun control will not save one life but it will cost many!

    April 10, 2013 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  11. John

    These polls result in 86-91% of the participants favoring gun control. The questions would have to be ridiculously leading to get these kinds of numbers. Of course, the reasonable option is that they are accurate and Pratt's REAL interest is in increasing gun sales.

    The NRA and the Gun Owners of America no longer represent gun owners. They represent gun manufacturers, and as such are completely out of touch with the American pulse.

    April 10, 2013 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  12. Dahl

    I love it - this guy doesn't like what (a large number) of public polls say...so he tries to discredit the polls. Politicians have been doing that kind of thing since the late 1700's–and sometimes, I am loathe to admit, it helps them successfully sidestep the real issue and drum up support for their cause.

    April 10, 2013 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  13. jeff

    I dont get this. You already have to pass a background check to buy a gun. How can they background check you more?

    April 10, 2013 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  14. Floyd from Illinois

    Denial of reality – Cons' core competency.

    April 10, 2013 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  15. pfunkterry

    That's very kind of you, Larry. Leveling veiled threats at a Republican who attempts to be reasonable. A few more years and you and your like-minded brethren will need my peers to help you wipe your bottom and chew your food for you, you misguided and uncompromising dinosaur. I anticipate the day that uncompromising capitalists who masquerade as champions of liberty are compromised by nature and time.

    I am a middle of the road gent who believes in gun ownership, but I also believe in background checks, mental health checks, and registering private sales of firearms. If I have to do it when I sell my car, why not when I sell or purchase a firearm? It's common sense. I'm also for stiffer and more heavily enforced penalties for straw purchases and mandatory minimums for criminals who possess firearms, felons or not, during the commission of any crime. I'm sick of these greedheads who pride themselves on speaking for people that they could care less about. They offer rebuttals, but no intelligent or comprehensive concessions to prevent or punish crime and/or criminals.

    April 10, 2013 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  16. GOPnotforme

    I haven't seen such a clear denial of facts since the Dawkins/Wendy Wright interview.

    Pratt might as well have said, "That's not evidence. You haven't shown me any evidence."

    April 10, 2013 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  17. noly972

    He's so deep in denial he should be in Egypt!

    April 10, 2013 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  18. Steve

    If you counted every NRA member and GOA member, they alone would not even count for he 14% of those who are extrapolated to be against universal background checks. But he said "hokum" so that was pretty convincing.

    April 10, 2013 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  19. what

    lol, 50 years from now people will look back and say how in the world could the GOP leadership be so misguided to stand blindly behind the NRA and their nonsense propaganda....

    April 10, 2013 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  20. Greyman

    Heard the same thing about all the polls showing Obama in the lead before the last election. How did that turn out again?

    April 10, 2013 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  21. Fr33th1nk3r

    LOL– the polls are "hokum", because the polls they took from other NRA members show the opposite! WHo woulda thunk it– NRA members against any additional responsibility on the part of gun owners?

    April 10, 2013 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  22. Ted Nolan

    Only Americans should be polled, not libs.

    April 10, 2013 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  23. oldleftcoastdude

    So what does this guy think "The right questions" are, pray tell?

    April 10, 2013 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  24. toydrum

    Translation: Your polls don't agree with what I want to hear, so they must be false or, at the very least, heavily biased.

    April 10, 2013 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  25. John john the pipers son

    Gun owners are a stupid lot in life. They envision end of days so how does that lift up mankind, oh that's right, its all about them only.

    April 10, 2013 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
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