Gun Owners of America
Gun Owners of America (GOA) is a non-profit gun rights lobbying organization founded in 1975 by Sen. H.L. (Bill) Richardson. Its associates are the Gun Owners Foundation, a 501(c)3 education foundation, and the Gun Owner of America Political Victory Fund, which raises campaign funds to support pro-gun candidates at multiple government levels.
Ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council
Gun Owners of America was a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in the 1970s and 80s. The two groups worked together to develop a plan to prevent the ratification of the amendment giving full Congressional representation to DC residents. GOA's executive director, Larry Pratt was quoted as saying, "The amendment would bring in two senators who would probably be minority and would definitely be liberal on gun control."
ALEC is a corporate bill mill. It is not just a lobby or a front group; it is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, corporations hand state legislators their wishlists to benefit their bottom line. Corporations fund almost all of ALEC's operations. They pay for a seat on ALEC task forces where corporate lobbyists and special interest reps vote with elected officials to approve “model” bills. Learn more at the Center for Media and Democracy's ALECexposed.org, and check out breaking news on our PRWatch.org site.
In 2013, GOA sent a letter to its supporters urging them to oppose the senate immigration bill because they "could lose all [their] guns before 2035 under the amnesty bill before the Senate,”  GOA's executive director, Larry Pratt, called immigration reform a "scamensty bill" and told listeners “you can say buh bye to your guns and buh bye to the rest of your freedom.”  Pratt called immigrants would would benefit from the proposed pathway to citizenship "dependents" and illiterate and said “they’re going to be probably just sitting around drawing welfare and voting Democrat."
Supporting Vigilantism in Milwaukee County
In 2013, Milwaukee County Sheriff, David A. Clarke, Jr. came under fire for airing a public service announcement "telling residents that because of budget cuts, calling 911 for help is no longer their best option."
- With officers laid off and furloughed, Clarke says, calling 911 and waiting for police is no longer your best bet. "You could beg for mercy from a violent criminal, hide under the bed, or you could fight back. But are you prepared?" he asks. "Consider taking a certified safety course in handling a firearm so you can defend yourself until we get there. You have a duty to protect yourself and your family."
Clark went on to spend at least $6,175 in tax dollars on gun-themed radio ads, which he called personal safety messages, urging citizens to arm themselves for self-protection.
When Milwaukee County Supervisor Patricia Jursik proposed a ban on taxpayer-funded radio and TV ads starring elected officials, Clarke took out another $10,000 to make new ads. Under Jursik's plan such ads would be violations of the county ethics code and subject to fines.
As a result, GOA members flooded Milwaukee County Board members' email accounts with notes backing Sheriff Clarke and the radio ads.
- "I am very disappointed that a committee made up of seven supervisors voted to restrict Sheriff David Clarke from appearing in any future public service announcements," stated the first line of dozens of the emails, which came from as far as Oregon and Maryland.
- "Are you people Nuts, abusing your authority like this?" wrote another Clarke supporter to all the Milwaukee supervisors. "Take Note: Any vote against Sheriff Clarke will be a vote against your re-election."
Board of Directors
As of June 2013:
- H.L. "Bill" Richardson, Chairman
- Tim Macy, Vice-Chairman and Director of Political Affairs
- Larry Pratt, Executive Director
- Sam Paredes
- Gerry Ognibene
Gun Owners of America
8001 Forbes Pl Suite 102
Springfield, VA 22151
Articles and Resources
- Gun Owners of America, "About Gun Owners of America", organizational website, accessed June 2013
- Southern Poverty Law Center, "False Patriots: Profiles of 40 antigovernment leaders" - "Eight Lanes Out: Larry Pratt", Intelligence Report, Summer 2001, Issue Number: 102
- Brendan Fischer, "Not Just the NRA: Former ALEC Leader, the Head of Gun Owners of America, Sides With Shooter of Trayvon Martin", PRWatch, April 9, 2012
- David Schaper, "Milwaukee County Sheriff: 'You Have A Duty To Protect Yourself'", NPR, January 31, 2013
- Daniel Bice, "David Clarke ad: Be 'ruthless' in response to attackers", Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, June 20, 2013.
- Daniel Bice, "Gun group floods County Board with emails backing David Clarke", Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, June 20, 2013.
- Gun Owners of America, "H.L. 'Bill' Richardson", organizational website, accessed June 2013
- Gun Owners of America, "Tim Macy", organizational website, accessed June 2013
- Gun Owners of America, "Larry Pratt", organizational website, accessed June 2013
- Gun Owners of America, "Sam Paredes", organizational website, accessed June 2013
- Gun Owners of America, "Gerry Ognibene", organizational website, accessed June 2013
- Miranda Blue, "Gun Owners of America Warns 'You Could Lose All Your Guns Before 2035' If Immigration Reform Passes", Right Wing Watch, June 7, 2013
- Nick Wing, "Larry Pratt, Gun Owners Of America Leader: Obama Building Paramilitary Homeland Security Force", Huffington Post, May 16, 2013
- Ian Reifowitz, "Gun Owners of America Is 'Primarying' the NRA From the Right", Huffington Post, May 6, 2013
- Devin Burghart, "New York Times Misses Real Story on Gun Owners of America", Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights, Apri 4, 2013
- Jennifer Steinhauer, "Upstart Group Pushes Harder Than the N.R.A.", New York Times, April 3, 2013
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