Gun (and Much Else) Extremist Larry Pratt

Larry PrattRemember last night when I wrote, Repealing Smart Gun Law Won’t Change Attitudes? It was about this New Jersey law that says if any Smart Gun is sold in the United States, all gun sales in that state must be Smart Guns within three years. So Democrats in New Jersey are offering to repeal the law. I said that it wouldn’t matter, because the same people will just come up with other reasons for being against them. Plus I said they would claim that New Jersey could just enact another such law.

Well, All In had Larry Pratt of Gun Owners of America on his show tonight. Hayes asked Pratt if his organization would back down if the law was repealed. Pratt spent most of his time talking around the issue but in the end, his answer was no. And he ended the segment by saying that the legislators were saying, “Do what I say or else.” Along with that, he made a gun with his hand and pretended to shoot the camera. It was both creepy and infantile. Pratt is an excellent example of why we can’t have a sane or honest discussion about guns in his country.

The main part of what Larry Pratt talked about was how Smart Guns only work 80% of the time. For some reason, he thinks that this justifies stopping anyone from selling them. Or at least that’s what he implied. It’s outrageous to think that a gun rights group is really protecting consumers, like a gun-only Consumer Reports. But what about that 80% claim. The All In Twitter feed sent out a link to the study that Pratt is pushing. It is eleven years old (pdf) and it is not about the Smart Gun technology at all; it’s about fingerprint technology. The Smart Guns are not based on fingerprint technology.

Of course, this all makes Larry Pratt a perfect conservative! Once you get a talking point, regardless of how old it is and regardless of the fact that it doesn’t relate to the issue at hand: repeat it! Over and over. I went back and watched the segment. Pratt was on for almost exactly two and a half minutes. He mentioned the “20% failure” point three times, using the vast majority of his time to talk about it.

This isn’t surprising though. Larry Pratt is not only involved with Gun Owners of America. He’s also founded English First and is at least involved with US Border Control and Committee to Protect the Family. So basically, he just hates everyone. Take a spoiled and bullying kindergartener and you pretty much have Larry Pratt. He is emblematic of a certain kind of conservative who think that the government has no right to interfere with gun ownership but thinks that the government should have cameras in every bedroom in America to make sure that people only have the right kind of sex.

Oh, and did I mention that Pratt at least pals around with racists? Here’s what the Southern Poverty Law Center had to say about him 13 years ago:

Larry Pratt, a gun rights absolutist whose Gun Owners of America (GOA) has been described as “eight lanes to the right” of the National Rifle Association, may well be the person who brought the concept of citizen militias to the radical right.

In 1990, Pratt wrote a book, Armed People Victorious, based on his study of “citizen defense patrols” used in Guatemala and the Philippines against Communist rebels—patrols that came to be known as death squads for their murderous brutality.

Picturing these groups in rosy terms, Pratt advocated similar militias in the United States—an idea that finally caught on when he was invited for a meeting of 160 extremists, including many famous white supremacists, in 1992.

It was at that meeting, hosted in Colorado by white supremacist minister Pete Peters, that the contours of the militia movement were laid out.

Pratt, whose GOA has grown since its 1975 founding to some 150,000 members today, hit the headlines in a big way when his associations with Peters and other professional racists were revealed, convincing arch-conservative Pat Buchanan to eject him as a national co-chair of Buchanan’s 1996 presidential campaign.

The same year, it emerged that Pratt was a contributing editor to a periodical of the anti-Semitic United Sovereigns of America, and that his GOA had donated money to a white supremacist attorney’s group.

Pratt is today close to the extremist Constitution Party and its radical theology.

What a sweetheart! And he is one of the people driving our conversation about guns in this country.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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