Larry Pratt is the Executive Director of the Gun Owners of America. He and Jason discuss how magazine limits are a violation of the 2nd Amendment. They also go way back to talk about what mistakes King George III made with respect to arms? Apparently, The King and President Obama are quite similar. Pratt share how gun-free school zones are a fallacy, and he also explains H.R. 35.
Larry Pratt has been Executive Director of Gun Owners of America for over 30 years. GOA is a national membership organization of 300,000 Americans dedicated to promoting their Second Amendment freedom to keep and bear arms.
GOA lobbies for the pro-gun position in Washington, D.C. and is involved in firearm issues in the states. GOA’s work includes providing legal assistance to those involved in lawsuits with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, the federal firearms law enforcement agency.
Pratt has appeared on numerous national radio and TV programs such as NBC’s Today Show, CBS’ Good Morning America, CNN’s Crossfire and Larry King Live, Fox’s Hannity and Colmes and many others. He has debated Congressman James Traficant, Jr. (D-OH), Charles Rangel (D-NY), Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY), Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), and Vice President Al Gore, among others. His columns have appeared in newspapers across the country.
He published a book, Armed People Victorious, in 1990 and was editor of a book, Safeguarding Liberty: The Constitution & Militias, 1995. His latest book, On the Firing Line: Essays in the Defense of Liberty was published in 2001.
Pratt has held elective office in the state legislature of Virginia, serving in the House of Delegates. Pratt directs a number of other public interest organizations and serves as the Vice-Chairman of the American Institute for Cancer Research.
Visit the Gun Owners of America at www.gunowners.org. (Top image: Flickr | dfc works)
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Start of Interview with Larry Pratt
Jason Hartman: Hey, it’s my pleasure to welcome Larry Pratt back to the show. He was on quite a while ago on my Holistic Survival Show and he is executive director of Gun Owners of America and their website is GunOwners.org. And there’s a lot going on in the world of gun control and restriction nowadays. And I think there are very important implications to our freedom and our republic, so it’s great to have him back. Welcome, Larry. How are you?
Larry Pratt: Thank you so much for having me. Good to be with you.
Jason Hartman: Well, the pleasure’s all mine. Just to give our listeners a sense of geography, where are you located?
Larry Pratt: Springfield, Virginia, right outside the nation’s capital where we lobby the congress.
Jason Hartman: And tell us about the association, first of all. When was it founded?
Larry Pratt: Gun Owners of America was organized in the mid-70s and we’ve been lobbying the congress ever since.
Jason Hartman: Oh, so a long time. Now, what differentiates you from some of the other groups? For example, NRA.
Larry Pratt: Well, the NRA was founded back in the 1870s by union officers who were very concerned about the poor quality of marksmanship in union soldiers when they were recruited. And so they developed a marksmanship training program through the NRA. They created the NRA for that purpose in order to help the government. When Gun Owners of America was organized some hundred years or so later, it was for a very different point of view. We were organized to oppose what the government was doing in the area of gun control. So, one was set up to be supportive and the other to be adversarial.
Jason Hartman: The NRA, their mission has changed over the years. That’s an interesting history point there, but like the contemporary NRA versus the contemporary Gun Owners of America, and I don’t mean to make it sound like a comparison, but I’m just curious and I’m sure a lot of our listeners are curious, too.
Larry Pratt: We’re very happy that over the years since we’ve been in operation, Gun Owners of America has seen an alignment closer and closer to the position that we’ve taken on the part of the NRA and that’s extremely helpful because when there’s one voice speaking for gun owners, a lot more impact is delivered into a legislative arena.
Jason Hartman: There’s so much going on now. It seems as though the government has just used these shootings in Colorado and Connecticut, etcetera, as the exact thing they needed to push gun control legislation. And I watch CNN and Piers Morgan has just got to be out of his mind, in my opinion. I mean, where is the outrage and where was the outrage against all the drunk driving deaths all these years which are much higher than gun deaths? The malpractice…
Larry Pratt: …that get killed and murdered in Chicago far exceeds what happened at Newtown, Connecticut. So, I think you’re right. You can certainly ask a lot of questions that should make critics or gun owners and gun ownership rather uncomfortable. What are their standards? Maybe they wouldn’t have any standards if they didn’t have double the standards.
Jason Hartman: I’d love to ask, for example, Piers Morgan, who seems to be the guy nowadays for just illogical shows. They’re just ridiculous. I mean, he’s just taken a totally ridiculous view. But I’d love to ask him, does he just believe that you can’t stop drunk driving but you can massively restrict or completely eliminate private gun ownership? And that’s why he’s never been outraged against the drunk driving thing?
Larry Pratt: I think he’s looking at America very much through his British eyes. And, first of all, I think if we’re going to have somebody suggesting gun confiscation as Morgan really does and being totally disarmed and that things will be better if we don’t have guns that shoot backward, it’s always better when it comes with a foreign accent. And it kind of reminds us what’s he doing telling us what country to have?
So, even during my couple of shows with him, it occurred to me, go ahead, please be outrageous and do it in your foreign accent. He didn’t realize it I don’t think that even liberal that I’ve talked to afterwards were cringing at the way he behaved himself. And that only helps us because we’re supposed to be the guys who are buggy-eyed and drooling at the mouth and just absolutely in a rant all the time.
Jason Hartman: Angry white men.
Larry Pratt: The angry white man actually had the foreign accent. It wasn’t the American.
Jason Hartman: Very good point. It wasn’t the redneck. It was the sophisticated Brit. He’s ridiculous, he really is. But let’s talk a little bit of technical stuff here. It’s certainly the liberals and the left and the gun control movement, they do make some seemingly logical points and one of them is one of the Newtown parents said something last week. He believes in the 2nd amendment, he believes people should have guns, but when the 2nd amendment was created, assault weapons didn’t exist. I mean, whatever the definition of that means is a moving target, of course, but certainly guns were not as sophisticated as they were today. Back then you had to pack a muzzle. Nowadays you can have a 30 round clip or even more and do rapid fire. I mean, what is the position on that? I mean, when I read the 2nd amendment, it just says a well-armed militia. So, whatever the standard of well-armed is in that time, we should be fairly comparable I guess.
Larry Pratt: Right. And I think we rightly look at that as not being bound by the technology of that time, but just as the first amendment still offers protection for the press but the press now includes electronic media, the one that we’re using right now. It wasn’t even conceived of at the time that the amendments were put together.
Jason Hartman: And, by the way, I want to say something on that. The Supreme Court, at least in one case, upheld that bloggers, and this is just an audio blog – that’s what a podcast is – are members of the media. The media does not have to get a license in The United States, thank God, like in some of these Banana Republics in South America and other parts where the media has to actually get a license like maybe your license will be denied by the government. That’s not a good thing. So, back when the first amendment was created, it was Ben Franklin’s little newsletter.
Larry Pratt: Newsletter which is very arduous to use, time consuming to produce, but now we have all kinds of rapid electronic communications and we rightly view that as also protected by the first amendment, not that thing over at the Smithsonian Institution. And it’s the same thing with firearms, firearms that were commonly owned in the day as militia weapons, and so today, what every soldier has today would be the same guideline for owning firearms that are protected by the 2nd Amendment as so in the 18th century, so in the 21st.
Jason Hartman: So, the answer to the left and the Newtown father is it should be equivalent to what our army, our military is using?
Larry Pratt: What is standard issue for every soldier in the 18th century, it started out being kind of a flintlock. It ended up being a rifle. Well, by the same token, whatever that rifle is that’s used by the military today should be the one that is covered and protected by the second amendment. So, that father’s argument, I understand it, I heard it before, but frankly if he wants to make the historical argument, he’s not realizing that he’s not limiting the first amendment yet he is the second. So, it’s not a logically sound argument that he’s making.
Jason Hartman: I agree with you, but I want to just take this a little bit further and then I’ll get off of this one because I want to play devil’s advocate. I had an argument with a gun control person. And I didn’t really know where I stood on this point. And we were kind of arguing the same point. Should civilians be allowed to have rocket propelled grenades? Should we be allowed to have mortars, canons?
Larry Pratt: Actually, I think I already answered it because I said what every soldier would have. Every soldier doesn’t have a grenade launcher or something like that, but he does have the M16 battle rifle, he does have the 9MM Beretta handgun. And so we’re talking about rifles, we’re talking about handguns, and I think that’s what the 2nd amendment meant. In effect, in the 18th century, with that technology, now a comparable technology is protected today.
Jason Hartman: Okay, so that’s a fair statement. Every soldier doesn’t have that. Those are special use weapons.
Larry Pratt: Exactly. We know rather precisely that this was the thinking of the founders when they enacted the Militia Act of 1792 which was right on the heels of the final ratification of the Bill of Rights and the 2nd Amendment. They said that every soldier was required to have a military rifle. Bring it with him if he were called up to duty. However, if he were in an artillery company, he was not expected to have artillery, but would still have to come with his rifle.
Jason Hartman: Exactly, very good point. Let’s talk about history a little bit here. And go to King George III. What mistakes did he make with respect to the right to bear arms? And is Obama following in his path?
Larry Pratt: King George III I think began making mistakes by overlooking English history because there had been periods when the kings were off the throne, and they were off the throne because Englishmen had organized under Cromwell and driven the kings out of the country. They didn’t do it with petunias, they didn’t do it with corn dogs, they did it with guns. And so for him to think that he could ignore firearms, particularly 3000 miles away and just behave in a tyrannical fashion without there being some kind of consequence was I think a huge mistake.
And in addition to the means of resistance, Americans had a tradition of self-reliance and yes they viewed themselves as British subjects but they didn’t view themselves as subjects in the sense of slaves, that they were free men, they were Englishmen, they knew what the rights of Englishmen were in England and for whatever reason the king thought he was free to abuse those rights in the New World and what he learned was that was exactly the last place he should have been so careless.
Jason Hartman: Very good point. We have these areas in the country and the Supreme Court a couple of years ago, overrode the District of Columbia and said that their laws were unconstitutional, their gun restriction laws. And you look at a place like Chicago which has just got the highest murder rate in the country or very close to the highest if not the highest, tremendous crime problems, and at the same time a tremendous amount of gun control. Tell us about the fallacy of these gun free zones.
Larry Pratt: Well, Chicago is probably as good an example as any, and it happens to be the city that has produced Rahm Emanuel, Barack Obama, and other politicians who are just totally dedicated to obliterating the right to keep and bear arms. Well, they’ve got gun control in great measure in Chicago. It’s almost impossible to have a gun and if you get one you really can’t have it outside your house. You might be able to take it outside the city to target practice or something, but forget about a conceal to carry permit. Not going to happen. And even what kind of gun you get and what kind of hoops you have to jump through make it extremely difficult to really exercise the right to keep and bear arms. And yet it is a city with probably the highest murder rate of any in our country. It’s certainly right up there probably with any in the world. There are whole countries that don’t have the murder rate or the number of murders that that one city has. So, folks like the President and other politicians of that city to lecture the rest of the country on how we need to have gun laws in effect like they do, I think it’s fair to ask can we have results like yours, too?
Jason Hartman: Yeah. It’s a great question to ask, no question about it. How is the gun control lobby able to con people? And I say con because it seems so illogical, their message, their solutions. They just don’t seem to work. They don’t make any sense. How are they able to do it? I mean, is it just an emotional plea pulling at the heart strings? I think the left is very good at campaigning like that. The people on the right side of the aisle are just not good campaigners when it comes to any political agenda, whether it be a candidate or an initiative or a bill or whatever, they just don’t do a good job of using the emotional ploy.
Larry Pratt: And the left is not prepared when we do that, for instance when I had my appearance on Piers Morgan’s show, I’d ask him. I’d set a stage and then I ask him which of the two rooms would you rather your child be in? Both classrooms having a bad guy with a gun entering, everybody’s ducking, nobody has a gun other than the bad guy, and the other classroom a teacher has a gun and is preparing to use it when realizing that danger is imminent? Which classroom would you rather your child be in? Well, they don’t want to answer that because obviously that appeals directly to human basic instinct for survival and self-defense and I think that kind of a situation, that kind of juxtaposition really drives home the point that the Piers Morgans of the world want unilateral disarmament no matter what.
Jason Hartman: This seems like such a mission for him. We keep talking about Piers Morgan – I almost hate to give him this much publicity. But is he just being courted by that side of the spectrum? Is he being paid? Or is this just his opinion? I mean, why would he be so fervent about this? This has become almost his only topic now. I mean, before he used to interview all kinds of Hollywood types that had virtually nothing to say and his show was really boring. I guess it got a little interesting now. Maybe it’s just for ratings.
Larry Pratt: Although I’m not sure it helped his ratings, but then people would have to watch the network generally I guess before his ratings could go up or down. It’s not a highly watched network, so he’s got himself a real problem. But, I think this is a cause for him.
I do know from feedback that we got through the agency that books shows like his for us that when they called to set up the second show to see if he would be interested, they found that even within CNN concern that he had gone too far, that his producer had received a number of complaints within CNN – forget the public that was calling in unhappy with what he was doing. And, in fact, I can tell you personally if I was doing the Alan Colmes Show not long after the first interview on Morgan’s show where he was so bombastic and Colmes said off the air “I agree with Piers Morgan’s points, but Larry I’ll tell you I was embarrassed by the way he behaved.”
Jason Hartman: Fair points. So, tell us what you’re working on now. Your organization is basically a lobbying organization, is that correct?
Larry Pratt: Correct. And a lot of our lobbying is enhanced by the feedback that members of Congress get from our members who are in regular touch with email, postcards, what not on the 2nd Amendment issue. It held a lot. The big project right now is resisting an expansion of the instant background check. We’ve argued that the background check is not useful for the police. They don’t bring hardly any prosecutions under it. It’s just not something they used. A study that was done after the initial years of it being on the books found that it hadn’t had any impact on crime.
Jason Hartman: I want to talk to you about that. You mean they don’t have prosecutions because of people faking or lying on the background check?
Larry Pratt: Correct with criminal activity.
Jason Hartman: Right. But wouldn’t think that would be the issue. I mean, the point is, taking their side for a moment, that the background check is what keeps the bad guys from owning guns or getting guns.
Larry Pratt: Well, that’s a separate argument and they do make that argument but then you have to encounter the difficulty that we know that people are frustrated by the check either that got stopped by it or never even submitted themselves to it get guns the way criminals traditionally get guns which is not by going to a store and buying them. If they go to a store, it’s what you might call direct withdrawal, otherwise known as theft. It’s not an effective tool for prosecutors and as a result they hardly ever use it.
And that has to be put alongside the fact that when the government knows the name and address of gun owners, that’s a dangerous thing. And we know that this information has been used to confiscate guns. After Katrina, authorities swept through gun stores, compiled a list of people in New Orleans who had guns, and went and confiscated them. So, we’re very adamant that this information is not something the police use in their work but it is something that politicians use when they want to disarm people.
Jason Hartman: So, what’s going to happen on the background check thing? I mean, it got easier. When did the Brady Bill expire?
Larry Pratt: Well, it hasn’t expired. The only part that expired was a 5 day waiting period and once the background check was viewed as fully in place, then the 5 years was figured to be long enough and that went away but we were left with the instant background check which replaced the 5 day, 3 day waiting period under the initial Brady Laws provisions. So, same law, different technology for accomplishing the same thing. And we think that it needs to all go away. It all needs to expire because it’s not a crime fighting tool. It’s only something that can lead to abuse of power by the government.
Jason Hartman: We’ll be back in just a minute.
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Jason Hartman: What do you say to the critics who say oh you’re just being paranoid. The government isn’t going to take our guns. I mean, we’ve got the 2nd Amendment. To overturn the 2nd Amendment, they’d have to have a Constitutional Convention. That’s a pretty big deal.
Larry Pratt: Well, governments have been legally prohibited from taking guns and on two big occasions they have. In New York City, after they required registrations of guns they didn’t like for a number of years, back in the 70s they sprang and grabbed those guns. And then, as I mentioned, in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina, they built a quick list of gun owners from the names and addresses that they illegally obtained from gun scores and used that to confiscate the guns of people in New Orleans. So, two different parts of the country, two different occasions government has shown that if they think they can get away with it, there’s some kind of crisis, Hurricane Katrina or whatever it might be, they’ll use that as an excuse and they’ll use the data that they know are there in order to go get the guns.
Jason Hartman: Yeah, well history has definitely born that out. There’s no question about it. Anything else you’re working on?
Larry Pratt: Well, that’s the biggie. We think, we hope at least at the federal level that is pretty much the subtotal of what we have to deal with on a kind of defenseless basis. We’re working proactively to seek report for representative Steve Stockman’s bill to get rid of the federal law prohibiting guns in schools so that those gun free zones are no longer there and a teacher would be free to have a concealed carry firearm, a principal, a janitor, so that if some dirtbag tries to repeat what happened in Newtown, Connecticut, there could be an instant response rather than having to wait 20 minutes which was the case in Newtown, Connecticut.
Jason Hartman: The dirtbags are always seeking out the gun free zones. The movie theater in Colorado was a gun free zone. The schools are gun free zones. A lot of shopping malls are gun free zones. I live in Arizona where they post on the window or the door of a business you’re walking into “No Guns” because you can carry a gun here easily, but the bars, almost all of them have those notices. I mean, these people know where to go. They know where they’re not going to face opposition from another person with a firearm. They won’t have to deal with an equal playing field. They know that. That’s where they go. They seek them out.
Larry Pratt: And we know from some of the shooters themselves that they were very aware that there was no active resistance likely when they would go there. And, in fact, one of them had to be terribly surprised. It was the Clackamas Oregon Mall where a guy went in, killed a couple of people. The mall was posted “No Guns”. He had wounded a 3rd happily. His gun jammed. While all this is happening, a concealed carry permit holder had gone in ignoring, maybe overlooking but probably ignoring, the posting about no guns and when he heard the sounds of the shots ran there with his gun, took some cover which then the shooter, whose gun was just getting unjammed at that point saw the good guy with a gun and rather than try to shoot anybody else, he committed suicide. Obviously, that act would not have occurred – had the good guy not been there – wouldn’t have occurred until the bad guy heard the cops coming with the sirens wailing which is what put an end to the horror in Newtown, Connecticut.
Jason Hartman: So, in other words, there would have been more bullets fired by the bad guy.
Larry Pratt: Almost certainly.
Jason Hartman: That’s a very good point. I remember getting into an argument with someone on Facebook about this one after the Aurora movie theater incident happened. There was a well-decorated former soldier in that audience who didn’t have a gun and imagine if he did, I mean a well-qualified person who could use a firearm. What do you say to the people that say that’s the most ridiculous idea ever. If people were armed in a movie theater in a dark theater, there would have been people shooting all over the place. Well, the perpetrator was in front. I mean, he was right up there at front. He was kind of an easy target. And then they say, well, he was wearing body armor. Well, body armor certainly isn’t fool proof. It doesn’t cover everything. But what do you say to those types of claims?
Larry Pratt: What they’re saying is that no defense is a better defense than being able to shoot back. I can tell you from all of these cases where we’ve studied them, once there’s another guy with a gun, no matter what the preparation that the bad guy has made, that seems to signal in his twisted mind end of game. And the guy in Aurora, first of all, had somebody shot back I think it would have completely taken him off his game and my guess is he very likely would have gone in some other direction, gone away from the crowd, stopped shooting.
Secondly, yes it was dark but here’s a guy on the stage in front of a lit screen. It’s hard to imagine a better target, surrounded by nothing else than might be sort of collateral damage if somebody had been able…Everybody’s crouching down in that theater, remember. Once the first few shots had been fired, if somebody had been able to shoot back they would have had the luxury of even resting their firearm on the back of a seat in front of them and shooting from there. That, by the way, is what happened in a similar situation in South Africa where a couple of guys, 3 guys actually with AK47s jumped in front of a large group of people – it was a church and it had about 1000 people in it. And the guy who shot back did precisely what I’m talking about. First of all, any theater of any size, they’re most certainly going to have sloped for and the back will be a little raised over the front.
Jason Hartman: The stadium style seats, yeah.
Larry Pratt: Yeah, so they can see over. So, the defender in South Africa took advantage of that, bench rested as it were his hand and arm on the seat back in front of him. And with a .38, which he now apologizes for, should have been a real gun, but with a little .38 5-shot revolver, he was able to hit one of the shooters and that broke it up. As soon as that happened, they ran out of the building and it was the end of the attack. He didn’t even realize he’d hit the guy at first. It wasn’t until later when the guy ended up at the hospital that he realized he had hit him. What he did realize is that he thought it was just the sound of his gun that broke off the attack. And whether it’d been that or hitting him, it didn’t matter. The attack was broken off and the police said tens and scores of lives were saved. These guys had machine guns. They were tossing hand grenades out into the audience. This was a savage attack and he was able to stop it almost immediately.
Jason Hartman: I know time is running a little long here, but I want to get just one more thought from you here. And this is something that the media doesn’t cover and it’s out of your area I’m sure, but maybe you’ll have some thoughts about it. And that is you just don’t hear about it because look who advertises on mainstream media. But this is the subject of these pharmaceutical drugs, the prescription mental health drugs that all of these shooters seem to be taking, whether it’s the SSRI type drugs like Prozac and Lexapro or Adderall. These are massively abused prescription drugs. And I think big pharma’s got so much money behind it that nobody’s talking about it.
Larry Pratt: And they all come with warnings that while in the immediate aftermath of coming off using these drugs, one or the other, can produce these kinds of violent reactions in people. Of course, not everybody goes out and grabs a gun and shoots the place up. But the warning, like all other pharmaceutical warnings, is this can happen. And obviously there will be a certain number where it will happen. Well, it’s one thing if you get nauseas but it’s a little bit more of a problem if you get murderous.
So, yes, that’s been one of the common elements in most of these mass shootings. Another one is that including the most recent one, dabbling with the satanic is another element. The guy up in Connecticut actually had a Facebook page for Satan. And the guy that shot Congress woman Giffords had an altar in his backyard that was occult in nature. So, these folks, when they get that twisted, that really opened the evil thoughts and evil input whether it be the videogame – probably a combination of videogames that kind of desensitize. And a lot of people who get desensitized don’t go out and murder. So, we’re talking about the margins.
But you add up desensitized by the videogames, judgment weakened by drugs, and then judgment replaced even if you will by dabbling with the occult, you get witches brew there that’s pretty bad.
Jason Hartman: Yeah, you sure do. It’s pretty scary stuff. Well, give out your website if you would. And you’re looking for donations to do your work. Can you share = and I think this is probably public record with a nonprofit – what is your budget? What kind of budget are you operating from in terms of hiring lobbyists and doing your thing?
Larry Pratt: Well, we operate with no more than a couple of million dollars a year. We solicit individual contributions. It’s almost exclusively the support that we get, individuals send in $25-$50. They can do it online. It’s increasingly internet support base. I guess we’re very much a part of the 21st century. So we’ve been very privileged to have lots of people support our work, even with small contributions. It adds up to enabling us to be an effective presence here in Washington.
Jason Hartman: Good stuff. Larry Platt, Executive Director of Gun Owners of America and the website is GunOwners.org. Thanks so much for joining us.
Larry Pratt: Hey, thanks a lot. Appreciate being with you.
Narrator: Thank you for joining us today for the Holistic Survival Show, protecting the people, places, and profits you care about in uncertain times. Be sure to listen to our Creating Wealth Show which focuses on exploiting the financial and wealth creation opportunities in today’s economy. Learn more at www.JasonHartman.com or search “Jason Hartman” on iTunes. This show is produced by The Hartman Media Company, offering very general guidelines and information. Opinions of guests are their own and none of the content should be considered individualized advice. If you require personalized advice, please consult an appropriate professional. Information deemed reliable, but not guaranteed.
Transcribed by Ralph
Guest: Larry Pratt
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