Paul Valone's Open Letter Response to Chuck Cunningham

An Open Letter from GRNC President Paul Valone to NRA/ILA Director of State and Local Affairs Chuck Cunningham (Cunningham’s email to NRA members is below)

Dear Chuck:

It is always a pleasure hearing from you, even if it is secondhand and nearly two months after the NRA ensured re-election of a sheriff who has obstructed concealed handgun permits and, until recently, refused to sign Form 4’s for Title II firearms.

However, I am afraid your recounting of the debacle surrounding Forsyth County Sheriff Bill Schatzman isn’t exactly how it happened. In fact, if that is what Anthony Roulette told you, you might want to have a word with him. Here is the full timeline of Schatzman’s transgressions from alerts we previously issued.

Timeline of GRNC response to complaints about Schatzman:

August, 2011: GRNC receives member complaints indicating that the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office (FCSO) is requiring concealed handgun permit applicants to provide full employer information, including the name, address and phone number of the applicant's employer.

September 1, 2011: GRNC president Paul Valone sends fax to Sheriff Schatzman, including the employment form printed from the FCSO website, notifying him of his non-compliance with N.C.G.S. 14-415.4.

September 8, 2011: Valone speaks at length with Davida Martin of the Forsyth County legal counsel's office, who directed him to Kevin McGuckin. Valone then leaves detailed message for McGuckin.

September 21, 2011: After both fax and phone message are ignored by FCSO (the former for 20 days), Valone again phones McGuckin, this time reaching him at 3:00 PM. When apprised of the situation, McGuckin replies “We’ll take that under advisement.” When Valone explains that failure to remove the form will result in legal action, McGuckin says, “Goodbye” and hangs up.

September 22, 2011: GRNC issues alert targeting Schatzman for requiring employment information:

September 27, 2011: GRNC board member advises Valone that the link for the employment form is still on FCSO website. However, when Valone checks the site he discovers that a new form has been placed there without notice. The new form does not require name of employer and clearly says that providing the information is "voluntary."

September 28, 2011: GRNC issues update to members noting that FCSO has complied with the letter (but not the spirit) of the law:

March 1, 2012: GRNC issues alert targeting Schatzman for placing arbitrary time limits on required training for CHPs in violation of state law:

Additional items:

• FCSO shortened the time of day in which it processed CHP applications from a full business day to the period 8:30 AM to 11:30 AM while most other departments place no such limits.

• Despite NRA’s recent assertion to the contrary, Schatzman opposes Title II firearms. On January 7, 2013, he interviewed with the Winston-Salem Journal, which said: “Our guy, Sheriff Bill Schatzman – a former Marine and FBI agent – has wisely declined to sign off on any permits to own automatic and assault weapons. ‘I’ve been firing automatic weapons since the mid-60s,’ Schatzman said. ‘I don’t see any purpose for them in the civilian world … What’s the purpose of (an assault) weapon? It’s a shoot-out gun, a combat gun. It’s a gun you go to war with.’”

Summary of Schatzman’s transgressions:

The documentation above clearly demonstrates that Sheriff William Schatzman first violated state law by requiring concealed handgun permit applicants to supply potentially intimidating employer information, including contact information for employers, then stonewalled when notified of the department's non-compliance. Telephone calls to the Schatzman's legal representatives were met with hostility, including hanging up on GRNC president Paul Valone. Only after an alert directed hundreds of contacts to Schatzman did the department grudgingly comply by replacing the form with one which indicates completion is "voluntary."

Schatzman continued to obstruct concealed handgun permit issuance, however, first by restricting permit applications to only three hours per day, then by refusing to accept valid training certificates from applicants. Grass Roots North Carolina stands by all of the statements made in the GRNC Political Victory Fund mailings and emails sent to Forsyth County voters.

‘Patently false,’ Chuck? Is that your final answer?

In responding to complaints about the NRA supporting Schatzman, you said:

“Unfortunately, the NRA has had to repeatedly clarify other attacks by Grass Roots North Carolina. Previously, GRNC claimed that the NRA ‘targeted Schatzman using his own words,’ in a legislative alert last year regarding efforts to repeal the handgun permit-to-purchase requirement. This is patently false, and the leader of that group knows this. Nonetheless, GRNC has repeated this falsehood in its latest anti-NRA diatribe, claiming that the NRA ‘issued an alert against (Schatzman), using his quote in opposition to repealing the law.’ Again, this never happened.”

“Patently false” and I know it? You don’t say. Once again, if that’s what Roulette told you, then you should have a word with him, since we have the alert you sent against Schatzman and already gave a link for it. Allow me to share it with you:

You will note that it contains Schatzman’s own words opposing repeal of the purchase permit system, which are:

"To my friends and political followers, thank you for expressing your concerns regarding our gun laws and for your strong support for our Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office for the last eleven years. I, like you, believe in and strongly support requiring purchase permits and background checks for all hand gun purchases. I do not support NC HB 937 Amend Various Firearms Laws as it is currently written. I oppose the provision, added by the NC Senate last Tuesday 6/11/13, which would repeal the pistol purchase permit law. I am on the NC Sheriff’s Association (NCSA) Legislative Committee and I know the NCSA opposes the added Senate provision, also, and has asked the NC General Assembly to delete it. If you have any questions about this matter, I would be happy to answer them. My best regards always. Sheriff Bill" [Emphasis added]

As you will note, this doesn’t quite align with the statement from NRA representative Katelyn Bledsoe that the NRA endorsed Schatzman over his support for repealing the purchase permit law, namely:

“He expressed support for every one of the NRA's legislative goals, including repeal of the Handgun Permit-to-Purchase which is a very important state legislative priority for us this year.”

HB 650 and HB 937

Roulette has apparently also been blowing you smoke about having gotten House Bill 650 and House Bill 937 passed. With respect to the former, it was GRNC which drafted the Castle Doctrine, concealed carry in parks and Title II language in conjunction with our good friend, former Rep. Mark Hilton. Roulette did add a few measures to the bill, principally one which purported to reduce concealed handgun permit issuance from ninety days to forty-five but, unfortunately, was so poorly drafted that it is now resulting in sheriffs delaying permits. In at least one county, it now takes nearly six months to get a permit.

With respect to HB 937, it left the House with only restaurant carry and a limited provision for guns in locked motor vehicles at institutions of higher learning. It was in the Senate, working with Sen. Buck Newton, that GRNC was able to add assemblies of people, all educational property, expanded areas of parks and, yes, the purchase permit repeal your representative calls a “very important legislative priority” for the NRA.

In fact, it is my recollection that when the North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association convinced Governor Pat McCrory to threaten to veto the bill if it contained the purchase permit repeal, it was Roulette and the NRA who immediately capitulated, leading Speaker Thom Tillis to shunt the bill to a conference committee which nearly caused its demise.

We’re in agreement about one thing, Chuck: “A great deal of misinformation” is indeed being spread about this matter.

Armatissimi e liberissimi,

F. Paul Valone
President, Grass Roots North Carolina
Executive Director, Rights Watch International

Begin forwarded message:
From: State and Local state&
Date: July 3, 2014 at 10:01:01 AM EDT
Subject: RE: Roulette

Dear Sir,

Your message to Chris Cox has been forwarded to me for response. As for your concerns about Forsyth County Sheriff Bill Schatzman, we appreciate you bringing them to our attention. Unfortunately, a great deal of misinformation is being spread about this matter.

While it is true that Sheriff Schatzman had once implemented a policy of only accepting firearms training certificates that were issued for one year from application for a North Carolina Concealed Handgun Permit (CHP), this policy was eliminated when it was pointed out that such a policy was not in compliance with the CHP statute.

Similarly, when Sheriff Schatzman implemented his policy of allowing CHP applications to be accepted online (a very convenient practice that has not been implemented by all other sheriffs in North Carolina), his staff made sure that the old policy mentioned above was not accidentally included. However, Sheriff Schatzman’s office does not actually maintain its own website, as it is not staffed to do so. That task is handled by others in the Forsyth County government. At some point, the Sheriff website was refreshed and the old policy was mistakenly posted. The NRA contacted Sheriff Schatzman once we learned about this issue, and it has now been resolved.

Unfortunately, the NRA has had to repeatedly clarify other attacks by Grass Roots North Carolina. Previously, GRNC claimed that the NRA “targeted Schatzman using his own words,” in a legislative alert last year regarding efforts to repeal the handgun permit-to-purchase requirement. This is patently false, and the leader of that group knows this. Nonetheless, GRNC has repeated this falsehood in its latest anti-NRA diatribe, claiming that the NRA “issued an alert against (Schatzman), using his quote in opposition to repealing the law.” Again, this never happened.

Furthermore, GRNC claimed that the NRA told a “lie” when we stated “Schatzman supports repeal of our...pistol purchase law.” Again, this is patently false, and the group is fully aware that Sheriff Schatzman has pledged his support its repeal, as well as the reasons why, in a letter sent directly to NRA-ILA State Liaison Anthony Roulette. You can read his letter here.

Finally, with regard to Anthony Roulette, he has worked at the NRA for twenty years. He has been State Liaison for North Carolina since 2003. The NRA and our North Carolina members, with Anthony’s able and professional representative and leadership in the legislative arena, have achieved significant success for all Tar Heel gun owners, including passage and enactment of House Bill 937 last year and House Bill 650 in 2011. Our top legislative priority in North Carolina is repeal of the handgun permit-to-purchase requirement and, if that is accomplished, it will happen more because of the efforts of the NRA and support from our membership than GRNC. Anthony has also been successful in facilitating enactment of important pro-gun reforms in his other assigned states of Arkansas and South Carolina.

If you have additions questions about this matter, please contact me again.


Charles H. Cunningham
Director of State and Local Affairs
National Rifle Association


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