In talking about the leadership of the unabashed, unrivaled, unapologetic pro-gun organization Gun Owners of America, some folks (Piers Morgan, Andrea Mitchell) may claim that they are radical or extreme in their belief that law-abiding citizens have a Constitutional right to keep and bear arms for self-defense.
I didn’t see much room to the right of the NRA. At least I figured that any group to their right would have to be so extreme as to be unable to achieve any kind of influence. Wow, was I wrong. Gun Owners of America, led by its executive director, Larry Pratt, has done exactly that. The New York Times gave them a large degree of “credit” for mobilizing conservative opposition to the recent gun control package on Capitol Hill.
And I don’t think the word “extremist” truly captures where Pratt stands. Pratt’s been fomenting hatred and paranoia about President Obama’s desire to create a private army, and claimed that the president was “definitely capable” of using that army to start a race war.
–Ian Reifowitz, Huffington Post, May 2013
But heck, I’d just call them enthusiastic.
Truly though, what gets lost in this debate over the so-called extreme positions and intractable stance of GOA is the fact that when it comes down to it they are actually pretty darn logical in their arguments defending responsible gun ownership and the 2nd Amendment.
Recently, I had an opportunity to ask Erich Pratt (son of Larry Pratt), the Director of Communications, some questions about GOA, specifically its views on concealed carry, the mainstream media’s reportage of defensive gun use stories, Michael Bloomberg’s gun control agenda, universal background checks, amongst other topics. Below is our Q&A:
S.H. Blannelberry: Last month, Larry Pratt, GOA’s Executive Director, caused quite a stir by telling Chris Wallace that “gun-free zones are murder magnets.” While many owners would agree with that statement, have you thought about how, if society were to agree on that premise, it would effect CCW licensing and training.
In other words, suppose that instead of pushing gun-free zones the government encouraged all law-abiding citizens to carry for self-defense outside the home. Assuming that more people unfamiliar with firearms would be looking to buy guns, would that impact the way in which you viewed concealed/open-carry training requirements?
Perhaps a more direct way of putting the question, if gun-free zones were outright banned, which standard would you support, ‘shall-issue,’ which would require some hours of gun safety training, or ‘Constitutional carry’ (permit-less), which wouldn’t require any gun safety training?
Erich Pratt: We would prefer constitutional carry. The bad guys are already carrying — by definition, criminals don’t obey the law. We need to do all we can to encourage the good guys to be able to protect themselves from the bad guys.
No wonder that in a nationwide poll of police officers by PoliceOne.com last year, over 90 percent surveyed “support the concealed carry of firearms by civilians,” and 80 percent of officers believed that legally-armed citizens would have “reduced the number of casualties in recent mass shootings.”
We believe all gun owners should be educated and trained in the proper and safe use of their firearms. But the local, state, or federal government should not mandate safety training or licensing because your right to own a firearm is a God-given right, and cannot be impeded by the government. They have no business determining safety or training standards. But we do encourage all gun owners to seek out private and voluntary training courses.
S.H. Blannelberry: How does GOA view itself in relation to other gun rights groups, like the NRA or the Second Amendment Foundation? Obviously, they’re all fighting the good fight, but what differentiates or separates GOA from the rest?
Erich Pratt: GOA has been described as the “Only no-compromise gun lobby in Washington,” by former Rep. Ron Paul. GOA was founded by a then-California state senator, H.L. Richardson. He wrote a book entitled Confrontational Politics in which he was critical of fellow Republicans for being to quick to make a deal. He had the same view about fellow Second Amendment defenders.
S.H. Blannelberry: At Guns.com, we run DGU stories from across the country on a daily basis in which gun owners protect themselves, their family and their property from armed criminals and felons, why do you think the national media doesn’t publicize feats of self-defense by law-abiding citizens more frequently?
Erich Pratt: The national media are ideologically driven. They do not want to admit that, according to the Clinton Justice Department, guns are used 50 times more often to save life than to take life. Those figures were once again reaffirmed by Obama’s CDC last year, when they found that guns are used, defensively, anywhere from 500,000 to 3 million times a year. Given that there are roughly 30,000 gun deaths every year (by murder, suicide and accidents), the more recent Obama figures reveal that good guys are using guns anywhere from 16 to 100 times more often than the bad guys do.
S.H. Blannelberry: Former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg has vowed to spend $25 million on his gun control agenda in 2014. While gun control has stalled on the federal level, Bloomberg’s acolytes argue that they’re winning the battle on the state level, e.g. Since Newtown, at least eight states have passed tougher gun laws, including ones that call for the confiscation or destruction of lawfully owned magazines (NY SAFE Act). Moreover, Bloomberg spent $1.1 million to ensure victory for Virginia Gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe, a vocal pro-gun control proponent.
Given this reality, it seems like gun owners have two choices: continue to fight or offer to compromise. Do you think there is any way to compromise with Bloomberg, The Brady Campaign, the Obama administration etc. on this issue?
Erich Pratt: The reality is that you can’t compromise with people who want to erase our Second Amendment rights. Bloomberg and Brady need to compromise their views and truthfully admit that their policies kill people. How hard is it to concede that people are safer in constitutional carry Arizona than in gun control-loving Chicago? Neville Chamberlain tried kissing up to Hitler with no success. Any deal with Bloomberg would not be worth the paper it was written on.
S.H. Blannelberry: According to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, since the universal background check measure went into effect on July 1, there has been a total of 3,445 criminal background checks on private sales or transfers. Of those, 70 people failed a background check and were denied a firearm.
Undoubtedly, proponents of universal background checks will point to these figures to suggest that the law is having a meaningful impact. How should gun owners respond to this argument?
Erich Pratt: Background checks are based on an obnoxious premise, namely, that “shall not be infringed” does not mean anything. Should we also have bureaucrats determine which sermons are OK and which houses deserve Fourth Amendment protection? It is interesting to note that the Democrat voters of Pueblo, Colorado (the San Francisco of the mountains) threw out a Democrat senator who rammed through a gun control package including an expansion of the background check.
Practically speaking, there is no guarantee that those 70 people were really criminals — rather than good guys who had the misfortune of sharing the same name as a criminal. Nor is there any guarantee that those 70 people have actually been denied firearms. Consider that in 2010, according to the Justice Department, only 13 people in the entire nation were incarcerated as a result of trying to illegally purchase a firearm! So you can bet that, on average, only one of those 70 will get taken off the street in Colorado … maybe. So how can the Bloomberg types claim, with a straight face, that this law is working as planned?
S.H. Blannelberry: What’s GOA’s stance on the U.N.’s Global Arms Trade Treaty that was approved by the Obama administration? Is it a scheme to register and/or confiscate the firearms of U.S. gun owners?
Erich Pratt: President Obama’s gun control treaty, happily, is going nowhere. It would effectively require gun owner licensing and gun registration. And, it would require approval by the same genocidal group that oversaw the genocide of some one million Ugandans — the odious UN.
Gun Owners of America is working to make sure that we maintain enough votes to keep this treaty from being ratified by the Senate. Already, we circulated legislative language defunding any Obama effort to implement the ATT by executive fiat. Thankfully, a defunding amendment was inserted into an appropriations bill, and that language was recently signed into law.
S.H. Blannelberry: Lastly, what’s your favorite gun for everyday carry?
Erich Pratt: The Khar .40.
Big thanks to Erich Pratt and GOA for taking the time to talk with us. To learn more about GOA, you can check out their website.