In an appearance on Newsmax TV’s America’s Forum Monday, gun rights activist and white supremacist sympathizer Larry Pratt said that the reason President Obama is for gun control is “he clearly doesn’t like the fact that the American people can own guns because we might just want to use them to keep people like him from becoming tyrants.” The executive director of the right-wing gun advocacy group Gun Owners for America was discussing the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty. The ATT has long been delayed in the Senate, mostly because Pratt and other conspiracy theorists have convinced a number of conservative lawmakers that passage of the treaty will lead to gun registries and the UN confiscating guns.
Pratt spoke with host JD Hayworth (a former Republican Congressman) and Rick Ungar of Forbes during the segment. When Ungar, who is typically serves as the token liberal on conservative media programs, pushed back on Pratt’s claims that President Obama is coming for everyone’s guns and that Obama is going to use executive orders to push through the ATT, Pratt then retorted with his belief that Obama is worried that people feel he is a tyrant and will use their guns to stop him.
Below is video of the segment, courtesy of Media Matters:
While mainstream media outlets have turned to Pratt to give his opinion over the years whenever the topic of gun control comes up, they rarely if ever actually highlight just how radical Pratt’s views are. In a profile piece on Pratt this past July, Rolling Stone writer Alexander Zaitchik revealed that Pratt believes that American gun owners shouldn’t be concerned with owning guns for hunting or self-defense. In Pratt’s mind, guns are needed to both scare elected officials and to carry out God’s will as prophesized.
“The Second Amendment is not for hunting, it’s not even for self-defense,” Pratt explained in his Leadership Institute talk. Rather, it is “for restraining tyrannical tendencies in government. Especially those in the liberal, tyrannical end of the spectrum. There is some restraint, and even if the voters of Brooklyn don’t hold them back, it may be there are other ways that their impulses are somewhat restrained. That’s the whole idea of the Second Amendment.” He reiterated the point this March during an interview with conservative talk show host Bill Cunningham. Speaking of a New York Congresswoman who had expressed fear that one of Pratt’s members wanted to shoot her, Pratt said, “You know, I’m kind of glad that’s in the back of their minds. Hopefully they’ll behave.”
And if they don’t? When speaking before smaller, conservative audiences, Pratt explains that it is necessary to both generate an undercurrent of fear and muster the organization and will to defeat the dictator prophesized in the Book of Samuel. When asked during a 2010 Q&A session, “Do we have the will to stand up to the government when they trample our rights?” Pratt replied, “That is an exceptionally important point to raise. We can have all the guns in the world, and if we don’t have the will to use them [against the government], then they are useless.”
While Pratt is certifiable, he definitely has pull within conservative circles. Republican lawmakers, and even some Democrats, don’t dare cross him or his organization lest they be called weak on guns. Pratt was especially influential in getting a Senate bill on background checks killed in early 2013. Even though the Manchin-Toomey bill was extremely gun friendly and far more conservative than other proposed Senate measures, the Gun Owners of America was able to provide the right amount of loud resistance and scare enough senators that the bill was unable to move forward. While the NRA was also a major factor in the bill’s failure, the New York Times claimed Pratt and his group may have been the prime movers. (Pratt took credit for killing the bill during the Newsmax interview.)
While Newsmax TV is trying to provide a further-to-the-right alternative to Fox News and therefore we should expect to hear wackiness from them on a daily basis, it is still troubling that a man like Pratt is consistently given a platform to spew his crazed views. Even more troubling is that he is hardly ever taken to task for his actual beliefs and why he thinks Americans need to own as many guns as possible. Therefore, we will continue to see him used as a counterpoint in MSM discussions on gun control and right-wing media will trot him out as an ‘expert’ on the Second Amendment.
H/T Media Matters
Justin Baragona is the Managing Editor at Politicus Sports as well as Senior Editor at PoliticusUSA. He was a political writer for 411Mania.com before joining PoliticusUSA. Politically, Justin considers himself a liberal but also a realist and pragmatist. Currently, Justin lives in St. Louis, MO and is married. Besides writing, he also runs his own business after spending a number of years in the corporate world. You can follow Justin on Twitter either with his personal handle (@justinbaragona) or the Sports site’s (@PoliticusSports).