Gun Owners of America executive director Larry Pratt is one of those people we wish we could ignore. Every interview he gives devolves into a mess of anti-government conspiracy theories, thinly veiled racism, and good-guy-with-a-gun revenge fantasies. This puts him at around the extremism level of 9/11 truther Alex Jones and unhinged Internet newscaster Stan Solomon…both of whom regularly host Pratt on their programs.
But we can’t ignore Larry Pratt because, as we are reminded every few weeks, he remains one of the country’s most influential gun lobbyists. Today’s reminder of this unsavory fact came from the New York Times’ report on Michael Bloomberg’s plan to spend $50 million promoting gun safety laws this year. The NRA declined to comment, so the Times called the second best option: Larry Pratt.
“He’s got the money to waste,” Mr. Pratt said of Bloomberg. “So I guess he’s free to do so. But frankly, I think he’s going to find out why his side keeps losing.”
It was also the New York Times that reported last year that Gun Owners of America was “emerging as an influential force” in the effort to defeat new gun laws. The Times quoted Sen. Ted Cruz praising GOA, noting that Cruz was the group’s “key ally in the Senate.” (Pratt, for his part, returns the praise every chance he gets).
In the past year, Pratt has appeared on CNN and MSNBC. And just a few months ago, when Fox News Sunday hosted Gabrielle Giffords’ husband Mark Kelly to speak on the anniversary of the Sandy Hook shooting, they decided that Larry Pratt would be the perfect person to join him with an opposing view.
That Larry Pratt is an influential Republican lobbyist who is regularly quoted by mainstream news sources shows that it is basically impossible to be too extreme to be taken seriously in today’s right wing.
After all, back in 1996, Pratt was too extreme for even Pat Buchanan. Pratt stepped down from his role in Buchanan’s presidential campaign after his ties to white supremacists and promotion of the right-wing militia movement came to light. As Southern Poverty Law Center director Morris Dees said at the time, “He's got one foot in that far-right fringe and another foot in mainstream Washington, which makes him really dangerous."
That certainly hasn’t changed. In just the past couple of years, Pratt
- has twice agreed with Stan Solomon when he suggested that President Obama was raising a “black force” to massacre white Americans ;
- has repeatedly insisted that President Obama is building a private army within the Department of Homeland Security ;
- said the president “had to steal the last election”;
- claimed that liberals “privately rejoice” at mass shootings like Sandy Hook and were happy about the Boston Marathon bombing because they “want more control”;
- said he was pleased that members of Congress fear being shot because it makes them “behave”;
- lamented that “surly” American “blacks” aren’t learning enough from uniformly “happy” and “pro-American” “African[s] from Africa”;
- blamed Trayvon Martin’s “broken family” for his death;
- agreed with a caller who said teachers unarmed who save children’s lives in school shootings shouldn’t be called heroes;
- and said that gun control laws are a sign of God’s judgment on America .
Yet none of this makes Pratt too extreme to be a leading gun lobbyist who is influential on Capitol Hill, praised by Tea Party leader Ted Cruz, and regularly quoted in the mainstream media.