Introduction: Lawrence D. Pratt (born November 13, 1942) is the Executive Director of Gun Owners of America, a U.S.-based firearms lobbying group, and a former member of the Virginia House of Delegates. Gun Owners of America (GOA) is a non-profit lobbying organization formed in 1975 to preserve and defend the Second Amendment rights of gun owners. GOA sees firearms ownership as a freedom issue. GOA was founded in 1975 by Sen. H.L. (Bill) Richardson (now retired). Richardson continues to serve as the Chairman of Gun Owners of America, bringing his many years of political experience to the leadership of GOA. Richardson is also an avid hunter and outdoorsman. The GOA Board of Directors brings over 100 years of combined knowledge and experience on guns, legislation and politics. From state legislatures and city councils to the United States Congress and the White House, GOA represents the views of gun owners whenever their rights are threatened. GOA has never wavered from its mission to defend the Second Amendment – liberty's freedom teeth, as George Washington called it. Associated with GOA are: Gun Owners of America Political Victory Fund, Gun Owners of California and Gun Owners Foundation.
Daily Bell: You are a person of substantial accomplishments. What motivates you?
Larry Pratt: I came on board with Gun Owners of America shortly after it had been organized because it was clear that this would be an opportunity to work with a built-in base for support of freedom and the Constitution. I thought this would be a good way to defend the Constitution in general and certainly the second amendment.
Daily Bell: You helped found the Gun Owners of America when you were very young. You were very precocious about politics. How and why?
Larry Pratt: The Gun Owners of America was actually organized by a California State Senator named H. L. Richardson, who had seen that his colleagues were often ineffective in defending freedom because they were not prepared to accept the idea that politics is conflict, that politics is confrontational, and as a result, the forces of liberty were continually making a deal rather than standing up and fighting. I was very happy to come on board, right after Gun Owners of America had been organized.
Daily Bell: What do you think of Ron Paul?
Larry Pratt: Ron Paul is one of the most effective spokesmen for limited government, for the Constitution. We are delighted that he has spoken about us as the only no-compromise gun lobby group in Washington.
Daily Bell: Do you believe in preemptive war, which is a policy, apparently, of the neo-conservative movement?
Larry Pratt: No, I think pre-emptive war is rather troubling. I don't think that is something the United States should be involved in.
Daily Bell: What is your position on the US current serial wars?
Larry Pratt: Some of the conflict the United States is involved in, I think, is defensible. One of the biggest threats that we face is Imperialist Islam, which has for 1400 years been at war with the rest of the world.
Daily Bell: Even though the Koran is a private theological scripture?
Larry Pratt: The Koran is basically a declaration of war against civilization.
Daily Bell: OK, a strong statement. You've been smeared as a "racist" and perhaps even an anti-semite. Response?
Larry Pratt: Well certainly the allegation has been made and I welcome the allegation because it obviously indicates that I am winning arguments. This is what the Left comes up with when they can't think of anything else to say as they're having the tar beat out of them. (laughing)
Daily Bell: You've founded some other organizations including English First, Gun Owners of America, U.S. Border Control, and Committee to Protect the Family. Can you explain these organizations and where they are today?
Larry Pratt: United States Border Control is now under other management. I became too busy and was not able to continue with it. Committee to Protect the Family is no longer in operation. English First is promoting the proposition that English should be the official language of the United States so that we don't have a catastrophe as far as the official language is concerned. It becomes very problematic if you have to have official documents printed in different languages, other than the one official language. That has been the role of English First – to promote teaching English as the language of instruction in the schools as well.
Daily Bell: You are affiliated with the Congress of Racial Equality, one of America's oldest civil rights organizations, and with Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership. Can you explain why these groups are important?
Larry Pratt: Years ago, I had been on a television show where a black state senator in Connecticut had been greatly incensed in what I was saying in defense of the right to keep and to bear arms. He challenged me to come into his district in Connecticut and explain that to his constituents. So, before going up there, I called Roy Innis, who at the time was the head of the Congress for Racial Equality. I asked him if he would accompany me on that trip. We met in Hartford, and when we got there, I could see that the senator's eyes were kind of bugging out of his head because he realized that I was accompanied by an icon of the civil rights movement who was very pro Second Amendment.
As we walked through his neighborhoods, which were downtown urban areas, we came up to a place that he had selected because the family had been the victim of a crime committed with a gun toting criminal. He was just convinced, without having talked to the father of the child that had been shot, that the father would be an opponent of gun ownership. When we got there and began an interview with the TV camera's rolling and the city behind us, the father said, "Well the problem is that people aren't able to defend themselves with guns!" And you could see this state Senator just melting away. He ended up losing his primary.
Daily Bell: Anti-gun control advocate Rabbi R. Mermelstein stated, in response to an "Ask the Rabbi" question, that "Larry is a longtime friend of mine. The man doesn't have an anti-semitic thought in his fertile, patriotic mind."
Larry Pratt: That was very nice of him. I had been a long time colleague of his and of Aaron Zelman and Jews for Preservation of Firearms Ownership. America is well-known to have been founded on Christian principals; it is nonetheless open to anyone of any religious background. The Christian faith has been a very tolerant one and is not hostile to other people exercising the dictates of their own faith. And so the Rabbi and I can disagree theologically, but we agree politically that America needs to remain a place where the government is our servant rather than our master.
Daily Bell: Is it true that your wife is from Central America, and that you speak Spanish at home?
Larry Pratt: Yes, she was born in Panama and we speak Spanish at home. We are involved with a Spanish-speaking ministry at our church.
Daily Bell: What are the biggest challenges facing America today?
Larry Pratt: I think the biggest challenge facing America is the government school system, which is teaching children that freedom is not important. We have the tax dollars being used to train children to be docile and subservient to the whims of the state. Interestingly, the fascist Montessori schools were developed by Maria Montessori who was the head of the education ministry under Mussolini for 12 years. Even a lot of conservatives in the United States think that the Montessori system is a good alternative to government schooling. They don't realize that the Montessori method is designed to provide a structureless environment for students that breaks down parents values. Then the value of the state can be imposed instead of the parent's values. I think education as it is operated in this country is the biggest challenge to freedom.
Daily Bell: Is America an empire?
Larry Pratt: I don't think America is an empire but a light on a shining hill as Ronald Reagan put it. I think it certainly has been and I think it can be in the future.
Daily Bell: Is the world heading toward one-world government?
Larry Pratt: One-world government is certainly something that seems to fascinate the political class in this country. It is something that has been pursued at the United Nations and its various international agreements. I'm hoping that Americans are going to see that the United Nations is nothing but a gathering primarily of thugs and dictators. We should stop funding the United Nations and we should evict the United Nations from the United States.
Daily Bell: Are you hopeful about America?
Larry Pratt: Hopeful inasmuch as it seems that my fellow Americans are becoming aware of the threats to our liberty. They are becoming aware the president and the majority that were elected to our Congress are enemies of freedom and it seems that Americans are on their way to throwing them out in this election cycle.
Daily Bell: What do you think of the NRA? Is it a helpful organization?
Larry Pratt: The National Rifle Association approaches politics and the government as a given. That leads to working within the system rather than saying we see the system is a problem, that the system represents a number of threats to our liberty and that the system needs to be brought under control; the system needs to corrected and changed.
Daily Bell: Some critics have charged that the NRA is set up as part of a Hegelian dialectic intended to move gun control toward gun confiscation. What do you think?
Larry Pratt: Well, as I was saying earlier, they have this view that they can somehow get along in the system and that's something that is typical of many organizations in Washington or in other state capitals or even in city or county seats around the country. It is hard for people to come to grips with the idea that your government is not really working for your best interest. If you are able to come to that realization, you will take hopefully appropriate action. The NRA hasn't come to that realization and so they are comfortable working within a system which is essentially leading us into bondage.
Daily Bell: Does the GOA work with the NRA?
Larry Pratt: We hope to be able to work with them but frequently when they are heading in the wrong direction, we simply have to oppose them. For example, early in the electoral process in the primary, we supported Sharon Engel in Nevada, now the Republican nominee for United States Senate against Harry Reid. The NRA may or may not endorse Harry Reid but Wayne LaPierre has already said at a ribbon cutting at a range, funded by the United States taxpayer, "Senator Reid, I want to thank you for what you do for gun-owners, day-in and day-out for the Second Amendment." Well the fact of the matter is if you go to GunOwners.org, you will see a picture of Harry Reid; if you click on it, up come some 43 votes he has cast since 1991 against the Second Amendment. The idea that we should be thanking him is just way off base.
Daily Bell: Why does the NRA so often compromise with Congress – thus allowing in legislation, which has whittled away Second Amendment rights?
Larry Pratt: Their comprise is the view that they want to work within the system.
Daily Bell: Are gun-rights helpful in keeping governments in check?
Larry Pratt: That was the purpose of protecting the right to keep and bear arms. The founders used the right to keep and bear arms when their government had become arbitrary and pernicious. The Revolution would not have happened without the ability to organize and militia – something, by the way, which was law in the Colonies and had been for some 150 years. If you were a free man and typically between the years of 17 and 44, you had to be in the militia; it was compulsory. And being in the militia meant you had to own a militia long-arm, and later a rifle, and if you were summoned or called muster, then you had to come. And if you didn't have that long arm and you didn't come to muster, you would be fined. That was viewed as an essential bulwark against oppressive government.
Daily Bell: Are US citizens winning or losing the battle for gun rights?
Larry Pratt: The US citizens have been losing the battle for some time. I think we have seen a corrective now for the last several years. We have seen measures put on the books in the various states saying that people can get permits to carry concealed firearms and three states have now made it so that no permit whatsoever is required; that's constitutional, concealed carry. And the Supreme Court has lately recognized that the right to keep and bear arms is an individual right. So we are making progress; we aren't anywhere near where we need to be, but in the past five or ten years we have seen the direction moving the way it ought to.
Daily Bell: Is the Internet helping the US to become a freer country?
Larry Pratt: In my opinion, not only is the Internet helping the United States to become a freer country, the fact that the control freaks in the Democrat party want to regulate the Internet or even shut it down by various means indicates to me that the Internet is a very powerful tool. It enables us to communicate what the government is doing, what the employees are doing to try to subvert the power of the Sovereign – the people, who employ government. I think that is a great compliment to the Internet, that it is such a target of ferocious activity on the part of the Federal Communications Commission and other entities of the government who would like nothing better than to control it and make it a lapdog of the government.
Daily Bell: Where does the GOA go from here?
Larry Pratt: From here, the Gun Owners of America hopes to work with a very different Congress in January and one of the things we are going to be pushing for is to roll back federal gun control legislation, none which has any constitutional warrant.
Daily Bell: What are the most important seminal articles and books that you would encourage everyone to read? Where can they be found?
Larry Pratt: There is a book by David Young called, The Founders View of the Right to Bear Arms, and it contains a record of what the founders understood the militia to be. It is available through our website and it is an extremely important book. He is a retired forest ranger in Michigan, and his life study has been the second amendment.
Daily Bell: What are your most important writings? Are you writing another book?
Larry Pratt: I have written three books. One was a book based on my travels in Guatemala and the Philippines and how communist insurgents had been pushed back through people using arms. Then I edited a volume on safeguarding liberty. It was, essentially, a collection of law school journal articles that dealt with the Second Amendment. And in effect it was the scholarship that undergirded the decision at the Supreme Court the right to keep and bear arms as an individual right. The most recent book that I have written is On the Firing Line. The right to keep and bear arms is not enough; one has to look at the larger context of the Bill of Rights. That freedom is an inseparable concept and you have to defend them as a body rather than a single element.
Daily Bell: In closing, any final thoughts for our readers?
Larry Pratt: It is a great time to be an American. We are involved in an epic struggle at the moment. I am hopeful we are going to push back the forces of darkness, the lies of the statists that are trying to impose on the American people and hopefully we are going to prevail.
Daily Bell: Thank you for taking time to speak with us. We enjoyed speaking with you and discussing your good work.
Larry Pratt: Thank you. It is my pleasure.
We were happy to interview Larry Pratt, who has fought hard to preserve gun rights in America. He has done so at a time when the National Rifle Association has taken a far less aggressive stance. In fact, in our opinion, Pratt and the GOA have been far more effective and constitute much of whatever is left of a bulwark to preserve gun ownership in America.
Like so many others, we believed the NRA was focused on protecting gun rights. In actuality, it is, as we have written, a mainstream organization with a reach that climbs right to the top of the US establishment. It is the lack of success that the NRA has had in keeping gun control laws off the books that has disturbed many supporters and led to the success of the GOA. Here's one disgruntled NRA observer's take (we've pointed it out before) posted last year at the DailyPaul.com.
Yes, the NRA is a FRAUD! … Sun, 04/12/2009 – 22:18 … With over 30,000 gun laws on the books … the NRA has successfully reversed 2 (partially) pieces of gun legislation. I would give you the batting average of that ratio, but my calculator only goes to the 6th negative decimal. Having a membership of 3.5 MILLION, 550 employees, hundreds of thousands of volunteers and an annual budget of over $120 MILLION…based on their track record…I CALL THAT FRAUD! … The NRA not only compromises, but they help write almost every piece of anti-gun legislation, just to generate donations. Gun Owners of America and Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership are the only way to go.
The NRA, in fact, was founded by victorious Northern Civil War veterans and has always been an establishment organization. Wikipedia tells us the NRA, "… was established in 1871 in New York by William Conant Church and George Wood Wingate as the American Rifle Association; its first President was former Senator and famous Civil War Union Army General Ambrose Burnside. President of the United States Ulysses S. Grant served as the NRA's eighth President and General Philip H. Sheridan as its ninth."
In our opinion, the NRA exists mainly to negotiate with those who want to reduce gun rights in America. By constantly entertaining "negotiations," the NRA actually weakens gun rights on a regular or irregular basis. Thank goodness for the GAO and Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership. These entities have done a good deal more to preserve gun ownership than the NRA. At a time when global and US domestic organizations continue to try to confiscate guns, these organizations have fought the good fight of freedom.