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. Jack

    "The polls are wrong!" "The polls use the wrong methodology" The last time the right wingers ran with this, it didn't end well.

    April 10, 2013 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  2. Jeebusss

    LOL. Right wing conservatives living in denial of reality? NO WAY, that could never happen. Oh yeah and uh....Ohio is going to go for Romney any minute now........

    April 10, 2013 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  3. bbk

    Obviously the ability to understand numbers is not a required to be the executive director of Gun Owners of America,

    April 10, 2013 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  4. dale zalewski

    "At the core of his opposition was the potential for the federal government to keep a registry of gun owners, which he declared unconstitutional."

    So this guy's a constitutional scholar? Its up to the courts to decide what's constitutional/unconstitutional, not a bunch of ignorant hicks bought and paid for by the firearms manufacturers.

    April 10, 2013 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  5. Tom

    This guys just a blip on the screen, he and his organization have no real idea as to what the nation feels, like many gun nuts out there it all about what they want,Not what a majority of people thin needs to be done. He like the current NRA spokespeople will soon go the way of the DoDo bird

    April 10, 2013 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  6. jinx9to88

    Another typical GOP that does not believe the polls. Shocking!! Ask Romney if he believe the polls outside the bubble of faux news? Right wingers are in so much denial they stink of denial.

    April 10, 2013 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  7. Alex in New Jersey

    This debate has really gotten absurd. Not one of these alleged new laws would have made one bit of difference in any of the shooting tragedies. Yet the democrats are like drones following Piers and Diane Feinstien and the Giffer as they run around the country claiming they know what to do. Throw cackling Joe B in the mix too. What a mess. When is someone gong to address the mental health crisis? Shame on all elected officials starting with the Pres. You guys really fumbled the ball on this one, guns are only a vehicle for the crisis, take them away, it will be cars, or bats, or clubs or some other misused object and then you guys will be back trying to ban sticks and stones.

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

    I'm sorry, I just don't get the objection to either background checks – or even registering fire arms. You have to go through a background check to buy a phone, to have your utilities turned on, to buy a house without any complaint???? You register your car, you register your kids, you register your computer, you register your cell phone – what makes firearms so unique that there is so much ridiculous paranoia about going through a background check to buy one or having to register them?

    April 10, 2013 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  9. Chris

    Thats called denial. It doesnt mean that you are correct only that you are too stubborn to see the facts in front of your face. Typical gun lobby response. NRA= No Real Answers

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

    It might be a tough road for those who are now young and will seek to own a few firearms in the future. Those who are of legal age and are wise will move now to purchase what they wish to own and stay under the radar. In time if those who believe no one should own guns get their way, the easiest way to monitor gun owners will be to make it difficult to purchase ammunition. Perhaps pass laws requiring a signature and ID to purchase ammunition there by telling the government what you own even if there is no other record of it.

    April 10, 2013 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  11. Jack Be Humble

    Do you support the monitoring of gun sales by government agencies for the purpose of later confiscating those weapons?

    April 10, 2013 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  12. Penny Wright

    More Americans have been killed by guns since 1968, than have been killed in all the wars the United States has ever fought.

    1,171,177 killed in all the wars we have ever fought.

    1,384,171 killed by guns in the United States since 1968

    April 10, 2013 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  13. Jeff

    Don't trust public opinion?! We, sir do not trust you. And also should question your right bear arms in peaceful times, something the constitution never allocated to. In my opinion, there is no reason for the average person to own a firearm in the first place. Kind of like "I have the right to juggle chainsaws and complain if I get cut.

    April 10, 2013 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  14. cp

    Obviously the NRA does not believe that their power will be taken away. They continue to have great influence over many of our elected officials who will not every stand up to this lobby. They are so afraid the the NRA will find a candidate to whom they will give financial backing. Just think about the TEA Party and what they did to get incumbents out. The NRA has much more money and much more influence.

    The American people have allowed this to go on for too long. Our representatives should not be held hostage by the NRA, banks, financial institutions, millionaires with agendas, Hollywood moguls or stars, or an other groups who buy their way in. We allow this to go on because we will not stand up to the any groups and will not use our votes to stop this nonsense.

    April 10, 2013 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  15. Bob

    I took several of these polls. Ostensibly, they looked legit, but given the wording of the questions, it became apparent that they had a hidden "anti-gun" agenda. So, I also doubt the veracity of the numbers. Btw, I don't even own a gun....

    April 10, 2013 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  16. David Godby

    Historically speacking, polls have been proven wrong & results have been able to be twisted by how a question is worded & is asked to get the desired outcome.

    April 10, 2013 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  17. zuul01

    This guy can't seem to figure out or just can't accept that he is *actually* in a minority on this position. Perhaps it is because this is one of the very few times in his life that he has ever had to face the prospect of being a minority.

    Also, the government (well, various agencies within that nebulous body) already know how much property you own, how much money you make, how many cars you have, and a whole host of other information about you. Stating that databases on private citizens are unconstitutional is just not an argument that will fly.

    April 10, 2013 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  18. Joe Plumber

    I'm sure if the polls were reversed he would be singing their praises. Polls are not always accurate – but multiple polls by various outlets over the past few months have consistently showed 80-90% of American support universal background checks. It's a no-brainer. As in they have no brain.

    April 10, 2013 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  19. Rich Ives

    "Your polls are hokum." 'Nuff said. Consider yourself discredited.

    April 10, 2013 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  20. DarrellSF

    So, this idiot can't buy the fact that the average American doesn't want to see mass killings via gun in our schools, churches, and theaters??? This is the problem with the gun lobby and NRA. They simply can't see reality for what it is. Most human beings do not have a life view based on violence. That's what civil society is all about. Pre-civilization was kill or be killed, not 21st century America!

    Wake up, NRA! Wake up, gun lobby! The polls ARE real! The deaths are real. These people aren't coming back, and we most certainly would like the rest of our society to have long, happy, and productive lives.

    April 10, 2013 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  21. Kent

    Like I have said you can get results you want with polls. Take it in the city in a bad neighborhood, or at sandy hook gun control will be favored. Come out to the burbs where the sane people live and no way!!! I hunt with a AR 15 and High cap mag. Why because when calling coyotes they often come in bye the numbers! Folks the masses do not support gun legislation period. The media supports it, why because they are bye large inner city folk that no nothing about shooting sports and guns! They are scared of what they are limited on in experience! My Opinion.

    April 10, 2013 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  22. Bart

    The Republicans didn't believe the polls either. I think when you do not like an outcome of a poll it is easy to say it is inaccurate.

    April 10, 2013 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  23. bones

    I don't know where all these NRA members are who allegedly support universal background checks. I know a lot of NRA members, and none of them think universal checks will help prevent another Newtown-like event.

    April 10, 2013 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  24. glorydays

    Keep your head in the sand,sweetie.

    April 10, 2013 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  25. Grinning Libber

    Not believing polls worked out so well for Mitt.

    April 10, 2013 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
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