The National Rifle Association has already endorsed Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell and is now branching out its efforts. The NRA is also supporting State House Speaker Thom Tillis (who has been endorsed by the aforementioned Mitch McConnell, as well as Karl Rove) in the North Carolina Senate primary. The NRA is helping out Tillis with its full array of outreach tools: emails, mailers, and robo-calls.
An unfortunate fact of Republican politics is that NRA endorsements are often unquestioned among casual voters. Many are unaware that the NRA is a pro-compromise, pro-incumbent organization. The NRA even endorses Democrats in addition to establishment Republicans, including liberals such as Harry Reid and Ted Strickland, creating As such, their endorsements should be taken with a grain of salt.
Interestingly, the subject of the 2nd amendment came up during a recent primary debate. A question was posed to Tillis and Dr. Greg Brannon (who has been endorsed by Senators Rand Paul and Mike Lee).
I took the time to record the question and responses word for word. Bolded words=emphasis mine.
Question by Nathan West:
“Alright. I am a strong 2nd amendment and it’s one of my top priorities when it comes to government. And the safety of my family is one of my top priorities also. My question to you as a U.S. Senator: Would you support the right of convicted felons and the mentally ill to bear arms?
Here is Brannon’s answer:
“2nd amendment. I’ve been endorsed by Gun Owners Of America, National Association for Gun Rights. I believe they’re more conservative than Thom’s NRA. Crucial: The Bill of Rights does not grant one single right. It declares God-given natural rights in which the federal government can never infringe upon. The first law of natural law is personal security. So the federal government should not be part of that at all. Local laws, state laws will take care of violent criminals. But here is the very scary part. I’m an OB-GYN. I give a lovely lady some medication for postpartum depression, like our troops coming back home. We’re going to have the federal government decide that that 6-week episode in her life will stop her from a God-given right to self-defense? That’s why it’s important to understand the federal role, the state role, and the local role. Madison was so clear on that. Their jealousy of those powers…they have the same mission statement, protect the individual with different functions.”
Here is Tillis’s answer:
“I think Mr. Brannon just said yes to your question which is irresponsible. The fact of the matter is, uh, violent felons and people with mental health problems need to be rehabilitated and they need help. You can’t put a gun in the hand of someone who represents a danger to themselves, or to society. You know I understand the concept Mr. Brannon said in his, in his words about the 2nd amendment but folks this is being practical, this is being practical conservatives. Uh, of course, the reason that I have the A+ rating with the NRA which I consider to be the leading 2nd amendment defender in this nation is because we have practical 2nd amendment laws. That are supported by the Sheriff’s Association. If what Mr. Brannon says came into the legislature I guarantee you 100% of the Sheriff’s associations in this state would oppose him and work to defeat it. Because it’s irresponsible policy. This is about taking the Constitution, taking practical conservatism, and putting it to use. It’s that simple.”
Here is Brannon’s response:
“I’m going to go back real quick to the one before Thom, because Thom misstated words that I said. I said this is a clear distinction. I believe the local, state level, the sheriffs will protect the community, not the federal government. This is completely different roles. The federal government, and, the state government taking care of violent criminals. I was very clear on that.“
At the end of the day, the question was asked in the context of a federal role. Dr. Brannon went at great length to explain that the police power in this case resides with the states and localities. As Brannon correctly explains on the campaign trail, there are three federal crimes in the Constitution: piracy, counterfeiting, and treason. The federal government has no authority to regulate firearms. The entirety of the Bill of Rights was put in place as a restriction on the federal government, and the 2nd amendment is clear: gun rights “shall not be infringed.”
Instead of simply agreeing with Dr. Brannon, Tillis made apologies for federal gun control. Is it possible Tillis misunderstood the question?
Well, as this video documents, questioner Nathan West is a Tillis supporter and was later thanked for attending by Tillis’s wife. It is not outside the realm of possibility that this question was known beforehand by Tillis.
It is clear Dr. Greg Brannon is the staunchest defender of the 2nd amendment in this race. And as he indicated in his debate answer, he has indeed been endorsed by Gun Owners of America and the National Association for Gun Rights.
In an email update, the NAGR blasted Tillis for his weak support of the 2nd amendment. Snips:
Under his leadership in the North Carolina House of Representatives, Speaker Thom Tillis helped kill a proposal to eliminate the draconian permit-to-purchase requirement.
When it really counted, Thom Tillis bowed to pressure by radical anti-gun lobbyists and REFUSED to allow this important pro-gun reform to become law last year.
Instead, to protect the anti-gun views of some of his fellow lawmakers, he let permit-to-purchase repeal be stripped from House Bill-937 without lifting a finger.
Tillis also resisted Restaurant Carry as long as he possibly could claiming “The idea of a concealed-carry in an Applebee’s bothered people.”
Grass Roots North Carolina, a state-based gun rights organization, has endorsed Brannon as well. Their explanation of why they endorsed Brannon instead of Tillis is worth reading; it goes into more depth with regards to the points the NAGR cited in their email blast.
North Carolina Voters have a choice. Will they vote for the Thom Tillis, who simply cannot be trusted to defend gun rights? Or will they vote for Dr. Greg Brannon, who will be on the front lines fighting for the 2nd amendment?