Leader of gun owners’ group speaks in city

“You may be the federal government, but you ain’t my boss,” said Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America, at Wednesday evening’s Williamsport Tea Party meeting at the Genetti Hotel.

Pratt took stark stances on the federal government shutdown, gun ownership and more.

He staunchly opposes the Affordable Care Act, or as he called it, “ZeroCare,” stating it allows government employees to go through citizens’ medical records “to keep people from having guns.”

Pratt believes there’s a 50-percent chance the health care law could be delayed for a year.

He supports tying the amendments to defund the health care law to the spending bill, despite – or even because – it’s causing a government shutdown.

When asked by an attendant what happens if the government’s shutdown is prolonged, Pratt responded the freedoms in the nation will abound.

“Let’s do this indefinitely,” Pratt said of what he called the 57-percent shutdown.

Pratt clarified tying health care to the spending bill is important and necessary because of its timing and leverage.

“It’s the last opportunity, the leverage to try to pull this off,” he said. “If there was any other way to do it, I’m sure they would.”

However, one attendant pointed out “a lot of people are hurt by the shutdown,” such as federal employees. Pratt responded their pay will be made up, and those in the military are being paid.

As far as gun control, Pratt is not in favor of any sort of background checks.

“Background checks are useless,” he said, stating the checks pose a threat to citizens as “the government can’t be trusted with information.”

In fact, Pratt said he thinks anyone should have any type of gun they want – zero gun control, zero background checks. He specified that includes fully automatic guns or machine guns.

When informed of the numerous shootings in the Williamsport area recently, and asked how to prevent guns from getting into the hands of criminals, he said that’s why the average citizen should have guns.

“These are criminals. They shouldn’t have illegal drugs, but they do,” he said, applying the same reasoning to firearms. “We should stop encouraging the good guy to be disarmed.”

He argued crime decreases as gun ownership increases.

Further, he said it might be a good idea for the sheriff to create a militia of gun-owning citizens to help combat crime.

He called gun-free school zones a “magnet for murder.”

He praised efforts to defeat the Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act, sponsored by U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Zionsville, in April.

The bill would’ve required criminal records and records of the violently mentally ill to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. It extends the existing background check system to gun shows and online sales. The bill explicitly bans the federal government from creating a national firearms registry.

However, Pratt pointed out if the National Security Agency can spy on American citizens through phone call and email logs, the government can’t be trusted with any other information.

Gun Owners of America was founded in 1975 as a nonprofit lobbying organization to preserve and defend the Second Amendment rights of gun owners. It was formed in part because some thought the National Rifle Association compromised on gun rights issues.