Interview with Erich Pratt Executive Director of Gun Owners of America
U.S.A. –-(Ammoland.com)- Gun Owners of America is known as the “no compromise” gun lobby. Founded in 1976 by Bill Richardson, the organization, has been on the frontline of the battle to protect the Second Amendment. GOA has opposed everything from background checks to The Firearm Owners’ Protection Act of 1986 (FOPA), which banned the private ownership of new machine guns.
People of the left have long attacked GOA for being too extreme. Chris Matthews has referred to GOA as “tougher than the NRA.” Stephen Cobert and other late night “comedians” also have attacked the group.
Even Harry Reid said, “The NRA is bad, really bad. Gun Owners of America is even worse than bad.”
These negative statements don’t bother GOA. If everyone likes you, then you are not doing your job. Gun Owners of America has been doing their job with successful campaigns to defeat anti-gun legislation.
In 2006 GOA successfully lobbied Congress to pass an amendment to prevent federal funds from being used for gun confiscations during national emergencies such as what we saw during hurricane Katrina. They helped to urge Congress to block the FCC from enacting “The Fairness Doctrine.” Most importantly, they successfully pushed Congress to let the Clinton era “assault weapons ban” expire.
I was able to catch up with Gun Owners of America Executive Director, Erich Pratt. We talked about GOA, the attack of the Second Amendment, and what people can do to fight back.
John Crump: Why does the Second Amendment mean so much to you?
Erich Pratt: The Second Amendment is about liberty. It is about freedom, and it’s about securing a God-given right that every man and woman has to protect themselves and their families. Not only against bad guys but also bad guys with badges.
Ultimately the Second Amendment is about defense against tyranny. But certainly, it includes the right to protect yourself in your comings and goings.
John Crump: What makes Gun Owners of America different from the other gun lobby groups?
Erich Pratt: I would say two words, “no compromise.” We’ve never supported one bit of gun control legislation. We’ve opposed the Brady Bill background check system back in the 1990s. We’ve opposed the Veterans Disarmament Act of 2007. Right now we are the biggest pro-gun group opposing the ban on bump stocks.
Because of our no-compromise stance we’ve had some victories that I think are really benefiting gun owners all across the country. For example, according to media like the New York Times, and NPR on the left and The Examiner and The Wall Street Journal on the right, GOA was the group that led the opposition to and defeated universal background checks in 2013 after the Sandy Hook tragedy.
You know I think if it wasn’t for GOA that insidious system for registering gun owners would probably be law all around the country.
John Crump: Criminals have only used bump stocks in one mass shooting. Before that, no one knew what they were beside us gun guys. Why do you think the focus is so much on bump stocks?
Erich Pratt: Because it is a foot in the door.
Nancy Pelosi said, “I hope we ban bump stocks because it will be a slippery slope.”
I don’t often agree with her, but I do on this point. It is a huge slippery slope because of the principle you use in banning a bump stock is that you can accelerate the rate of fire of a firearm can be used to ban all kinds of things including match triggers, and magazines.
You can see a future Democrat saying a 30 round magazine helps you increase the rate of fire as opposed to a three 10 round magazines.
Quite frankly we can see it used to try to ban AR15s. I mean anyone can go to YouTube and look at videos of people bump firing an AR15 without a bump stock. Well, that is if YouTube hasn’t taken them down yet under their new policy. That is what we are facing.
It is no wonder there is intense pressure to ban something as you said has only been used once that we know of in a crime.
John Crump: The “march of gun control,” as I like to call it, took place in DC over the weekend. Kids were paraded out like pawns. Travel cost and hotels are not cheap, but these kids seem to have endless money to be paraded out all over the country. Is there an anti-gun organization footing the bill?
Erich Pratt: They were being well funded. It definitely wasn’t coming out of the kid’s pockets. There were billionaires helping finance this. You got Bloomberg, Clooney, Oprah, Speilberg. You got anti-gun groups like Gifford’s organization, Mom’s Demand Action, and of course, Everytown [For Gun Safety] which is one of Bloomberg’s creations.
There was a lot of money behind this. You mentioned the kids being used as pawns. It is interesting with the previous walkouts of schools that they had, like the week before, a lot of parents were led to believe that it was about memorializing the victims, but it turned out it wasn’t! It was about demanding more gun control.
At the march, you saw incredible hypocrisy. You got celebrities really helping convince the nation, and convince the students that they don’t need guns in schools for teachers and things like that even though they themselves had security.
Bottomline the march was not as advertised. There were few students at the rally as compared to adults. Despite the hype, there was only about a quarter of the size that they were predicting.
John Crump: Gun bills are popping up in states across the nation. I have read every one of these bills. It seems like a lot of what is in these are “word for word” the same, but they all list different writers. What organization do you think is writing these laws?
Erich Pratt: Our understanding is that you got organizations like the Brady Campaign and Everytown which are drafting these draft bills which then become model legislation for them all around the country.
John Crump: Gun owners are under attack from companies trying to push their anti-gun agenda. From YouTube to some banks, it is everywhere. What can gun owners do to fight back? Besides joining GOA?
Erich Pratt: Most of us don’t have the money that Bloomberg and Soros have, but each of us has a sphere of influence. If you are a parent, I would ask if you are teaching your kids your values and your beliefs.
I have ten kids, and they are all 100% pro-gun. That is because we talk about guns at home. They certainly hear the anti-gun agenda that permeates the airwaves, so we discuss things like this around the dinner table. I encourage them to ask questions. We discuss issues like this enlight of our Christain faith and enlight of The Consitution.
Parents can and should have a huge influence. Sadly I run into too many gun owners who lost their kids to the culture, so I think we need to be proactive with our kids.
At Gun Owners of America, we have a sphere of influence too. Again, we don’t have the kind of money that Bloomberg or Soros have, but we are out there on the front lines educating and mobilizing people to send good people to Congress so we can get good legislation passed and stop bad legislation from getting enacted.
We are also trying to change the hearts and minds of the next generation. I just got back from debating the gun issue at a university in New York. We’re trying to enlighten and empower the kids who will be making law in the years to come. I think we all have to be proactive in our sphere of influence, and yes join GOA as well.
John Crump: Gun free zones do not work. Why is there such a resistance to getting rid of these soft targets?
Erich Pratt: Because there is such an agenda to demonize firearms, and to get rid of firearms. You are absolutely right. It makes no sense. I have seen the statistic that as high as 98% of all public mass shootings occur in these gun free zones. Go all the way back to 1950 and look at all the public mass shootings.
I debate anti-gunners all the time, and they treat that statistic like it is coincidental. Like the bad guys aren’t really targeting those areas. Is it just coincidental that they come upon these gun free zones to perpetuate their evil? That’s crazy!
After many of these shootings, we looked at many of these killers. In fact, they did target those areas! We know that about the Aurora theater shooter. We know that about the Sandy Hook shooter. He said he chose a school because it had a high concentration of people with little resistance. We know that about the Charleston church shooter.
We see it over and over again. I think the way we combat this, and we agree 100% with the police, 81% of police officers according to a poll done by policeone.com said the teachers and staff should be armed in the school to stop these mass shootings. They surveyed 15,000 police officers.
They should know the real first responders are the potential victims. I know personally a survivor of the Stockton shooting back in 1989. There were 37 casualties there on that day. He was one of the ones that were shot. He was a kid then. He is a police officer now, and he agrees wholeheartedly with the 81% of his fellow brothers in blue.
He makes three very good points. No gun control law that can be devised by man will be obeyed by the bad guys. Gun control doesn’t work.
He says, “We as police can’t get there in time to protect you.”
He has spoken before Congress. He says it is the first responders, the teachers, that need to armed. We agree 100% with that. It makes total sense.
John Crump: What can be done to harden schools?
Erich Pratt: Arming teachers is the last of the defense. Quite frankly it is the cheapest way to accomplish something that would be extremely effective. There are actually states that are already doing this.
Utah has allowed armed teachers since 1995. I can’t remember once there ever being an attempted mass shooting in Utah. That’s the thing. Where you have a lot of guns somewhere, you are going to meet resistance. People usually don’t go there if they are perpetuating evil. That is why they don’t go shoot up police stations, or military armories, or gun shows. They go to the weak link.
Yes, there are other things that can be done regarding security. Metal detectors, and training.
We certainly wouldn’t oppose it, but I would just say, “Look there are already places that have an effective deterrent. There is Utah. There is Ohio where there is a private gun organization that is training teachers to be armed. In Texas, there are actually school districts that are not only allowing and training armed teachers, but they are actually posting signs outside the saying that the teachers are armed.”
In the more than 12 states that have armed teachers, we don’t know of one school where there has been an attempted mass shooting.
John Crump: Why does GOA object to FixNICS?
Erich Pratt: We object to background checks. We do not think that anyone should have to prove their innocence to the government to exercise any right whether it is a Constitutionally protected right or a God-given right.
We understand that with other rights. They used to have a poll test. Before you could vote, they wanted to test your education to make sure you were an informed voter. They have struck down things like that.
Putting hurdles before people before they can exercise their rights. There is an old adage of a right delayed is a right denied, and that is very true. There are people that are dead today because of background checks like Carol Bowne in New Jersey who needed a gun to defend herself against a former boyfriend that was threatening her. She tried to get a gun, but New Jersey prolongs the background check process. He showed up at home and murdered her with a knife.
We oppose background checks for that reason. Practically the problem has been background checks have become an infringement on the law-abiding, and they don’t stop bad guys from getting guns.
95% of the initial denials under the background check are false positives. People that should not be denied. You got people that easily get around the background check when they know they can’t pass the background check.
The Sandy Hook shooter could not pass a background check. What does he do? He kills his mom and takes her gun. The Maryland shooter last week was 17. He couldn’t pass a background check so what does he do? He steals a gun which by the way under federal law would be considered an assault weapon. That is two laws that didn’t work.
The problem with FixNICS is that it is going to get 2/3 of a billion dollars to throw more names into the background check system, but in doing that it will result in a lot of decent people being denied.
People like military veterans with PTSD. Already 250,000 and counting are already in the NICS system and cannot buy a gun. People with outstanding traffic tickets. We’ve documented all this on our website about how this is going to affect people.
John Crump: It seems like anti-gun people are using emotion instead of facts. Why do you think that they are so resistant to using facts when it comes to debating gun control?
Erich Pratt: Because the facts are not on their side.
In this country for every tragic Parkland that we see we have to remember that guns are used 16 to 100 times more often to save a life than to take a life. That comes from a study done by Obama’s Center for Disease Control in 2013. So, guns are being used far more often to save a life than to take a life.
If you understand motives and the operating procedures of the anti-gun left, then you will understand why they are reticent to report on those positive self-defense cases, but instead, they use emotion to talk about the negative uses of firearms.
They don’t have the facts on their side. They do try to use emotion, but by using emotion, they are only going to give you one side of the equation, and that is “guns are bad. They are used to kill.”
Imagine if we did that with cars. More people die in car accidents than with guns. Imagine if we got the same type of treatment we do with car death, or with medical deaths. No one is waging war on cars or doctors.
John Crump: How can someone join the GOA?
Erich Pratt: The easiest way is to just go online to gunowners.org. There are different memberships. They can sign up for the basic $20 membership. They can become a patriot member, which is giving monthly, and there is also a life member for $500.
We would love to have people just sign up for our email alert list. That is how we have such a loud voice here in Congress, and it is the reason we were able to kill universal background checks in 2013. It is just not because GOA lobbyist is going up on The Hill.
Gun Owners of America recently endorsed Shak Hill for Congress.
Gun Owners of America is online here.