Gun-rights group questions Tillis’ involvement in Senate compromise

U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis asks a question during a committee hearing. (Image from

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  • The gun-rights group Grass Roots North Carolina criticizes U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis' "misguided approach" to a possible compromise federal gun bill.
  • The group invites Tillis to participate in a June 24 demonstration outside his Raleigh office.

A gun-rights group’s open letter to U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis questions his “misguided approach” to ongoing gun-law discussions on Capitol Hill. The letter asks Tillis to take part in a June 24 demonstration outside his Raleigh office.

“You are reportedly central to the effort to negotiate a bipartisan ‘compromise’ on gun legislation in the U.S. Senate,” wrote Paul Valone, president of Grass Roots North Carolina. The letter cites reports suggesting “you have reached general consensus on a ‘framework’ for legislation to include federal funding for state-level ‘red flag’ gun confiscation laws, as well as a variety of other measures, several of which have nothing to do with the Uvalde and Buffalo killings which are the ostensible catalyst for this legislation.”

“For example, restrictions on the ability of gun owners to sell firearms from private collections have no bearing on mass murder and represent nothing less than an attempt to capture more transactions using the National Instant Background Check System,” Valone wrote. NICS data is being “exploited to create an illegal gun registry” in violation of federal law, he argued. “Grass Roots North Carolina vociferously opposes any effort to expand the number of transactions captured by NICS.”

The letter cited an “even greater concern” about red-flag gun confiscation orders. Valone mentioned problems involving due process for gun owners. He also questioned the confiscation orders’ effectiveness.

“A 2018 study of GCOs by Dr. John Lott and Professor Carl Moody of the Crime Prevention Research Center found ‘no significant effect on murder, suicide, the number of people killed in mass public shootings, robbery, aggravated assault, or burglary,’” Valone wrote.

“In truth, mental health professionals routinely admit to being unable to predict future violence by individuals, making GCO laws ineffective at stopping either violent crime or mass murder, as well as being an unconstitutional infringement on the civil liberties of lawful gun owners,” he added.

Grass Roots North Carolina plans a June 24 demonstration outside Tillis’ Raleigh office. It will feature Stephen Willeford, who used an AR-15 rifle to help end a 2017 mass shooting at a Texas church. Valone’s letter issues Tillis an “open invitation for you to meet and learn from” Willeford.

Participation in the June 24 event would give Tillis “an opportunity to correct this misguided approach” to new federal gun laws.

Ray Nothstine, research fellow in Second Amendment issues at the John Locke Foundation, echoes issues raised in the Grass Roots North Carolina letter.

“There is a legitimate concern that this bill could incentivize states to chase federal dollars with continued deficit spending by bribing them into implementing ‘red-flag’ laws,” Nothstine said. “The laws may sound good to some in theory, but depending on how they are written, they could easily allow for law enforcement to seize weapons without due process. In some states already, former spouses, girlfriends or boyfriends, or even neighbors could anonymously inform authorities that you are a threat and your firearms may be taken away. And at that point you’re a victim of an unconstitutional gun seizure.”