Gun Rights Supporters:
A June 28, 2016 press release from the North Carolina Rifle & Pistol Association (NCRPA), the state’s NRA affiliate, seems to contain a veiled reference to an alert issued by Grass Roots North Carolina (GRNC) on June 13 (“Conference Committee is last chance to stop sellout”) and a GRNC Update on June 15, 2016 (“Victory in the General Assembly Regarding Permit Holdups”), expressed as follows:
“Recently, allegations have been disseminated within the firearms community and beyond that the National Rifle Association and the North Carolina Rifle & Pistol Association played some role in the insertion of wording in North Carolina House Bill 562 relating to release forms for the disclosure of mental health orders to sheriffs as part of the handgun permitting process. Such allegations are erroneous. The National Rifle Association and the North Carolina Rifle & Pistol Association played no role in the insertion of such language in House Bill 562. Neither organization condoned, consented to, or facilitated such language either before or after the fact of its insertion or ultimate passage.”
If NCRPA is referring to some other entity, beyond GRNC, “within the firearms community,” I have not heard any such allegations. If, however, the allegations are being attributed to GRNC, NCRPA is apparently confused, since the GRNC alerts in question lay responsibility for the problematic medical release form slipped into HB 562 not with the NRA and NCRPA, as the NCRPA press release alleges, but rather with the NC Sheriffs’ Association (NCSA). Specifically, the alert said (emphasis added):
“With passage of HB 562 last year, which included removal of several burdensome pistol purchase permit (PPP) application requirements, legislators attempted to standardize what were then widely variable permit formats. The North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association (NCSA) managed to slip into the bill a requirement that mental health forms be sent to Clerks of Superior Court to certify the applicant has no history of mental incompetence (involuntary commitment, insanity defense, etc). The ostensible reason for the form is that older records are not digitized, but rather stored on microfiche.”
The GRNC alerts in question did relay details of a meeting this year between NRA, NCRPA, a few legislators and representatives of the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) which deliberately excluded GRNC and was described in the 6-13 as follows:
“Enter NRA lobbyist Anthony Roulette and a clandestine meeting to ‘solve’ the problem. Among those at the meeting were Roulette, Representative Allen McNeill (a former Deputy Sheriff with strong ties to NC Sheriffs’ Association or NCSA), NCSA Executive Director Eddie Caldwell, representatives of the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC), and Dennis Allen, who represented the NC Rifle & Pistol Association (NCRPA), the state NRA affiliate.
“Conspicuously absent from the meeting were any representatives from Grass Roots North Carolina (GRNC). And why were we absent, you ask? Perhaps it was because Caldwell, whose long history of featherbedding his $330,000 salary and turning sheriffs against gun owners has drawn fire from GRNC, reportedly quipped that if GRNC attended, he would not. Or perhaps it was at the behest of Roulette who, when asked by AOC personnel why GRNC was not present, reportedly responded that we were ‘unavailable.’
“Most likely, Roulette and Caldwell colluded to exclude GRNC just as they have colluded to undermine gun owners in the past. However you choose to interpret it, the state’s largest and most effective gun rights organization was deliberately excluded…
“…As the apparent result of this cozy little tête-à-tête, Rep. McNeill slipped $250,000 into the massive House budget bill to allow the AOC to begin digitizing involuntary commitment records. So now, everybody is happy: Roulette gets to say he did something, Caldwell’s sheriffs get more access to ancient mental health records (to deny permits to more people, of course), and AOC gets $250,000.
“Everybody gets something…except you. You see, urban clerks of court aren’t delaying purchase permit applications solely due to lack of resources; some anti-gun bureaucrats are using the new form as an excuse to vex gun owners. Throwing money at them will accomplish nothing. It is highly probable that application delays will continue and, as you know, a right delayed is a right denied.”
The meeting description contained in the GRNC alert was confirmed by several who were present at the meeting, including NCRPA representative Dennis Allen. In sum, anything described in the GRNC alerts had nothing to do with HB 562, but rather with undermining GRNC’s attempts to fix the problems created by the medical release form. The good news is that GRNC was able to amend another bill, SB 89, to include a fix. The bad news is that NC House leadership shunted SB 89 to the Rules Committee with the apparent intention of killing it. We strongly encourage gun rights supporters to contact Speaker Tim Moore and Rules Chairman David Lewis and tell them to pass the pistol purchase permit language contained in SB 89.
Armatissimi e liberissimi,
F. Paul Valone
President, Grass Roots North Carolina
Sir Walter Gun Club president Robert Walker with GRNC president Paul Valone at second GRNC benefit match hosted by the club. GRNC offers a hearty 'Thanks!' to Sir Walter.