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Mike Easley: The smoking gun in his own words

Anti-gun former Gov. Mike Easley endorsed gun control proposal from "Americans for Gun Safety
Anti-gun former Gov. Mike Easley endorsed gun control proposal from "Americans for Gun Safety
Impage courtesy of Grass Roots North Carolina

Meet “Americans For Gun Safety” and their own, personal governor…

A long series of personal attacks have resulted from publication of two articles on flaws in NRA candidate ratings. Apparently the work of a limited number of individuals from within either the NRA or its affiliated organization, the North Carolina Rifle & Pistol Association, the attacks have served only to distract from GRNC efforts to elect truly pro-gun candidates who will hopefully redraw favorable political districts once elected. As noted, this is likely the most important election since 1994.

Much of the “debate” (if that is what it can be called) centers on my criticism of the NRA’s change in stance on former Governor Mike Easely, who was rated “F” when he was Attorney General of North Carolina, and whom NRA representative Jeff Freeman repeatedly told me would never be supported by the NRA. After one term in office, however, and immediately after signing HB 464:“NRA Special Plate,” Easley magically morphed into an “A” and endorsement, even against proven gun rights defender Senator Patrick Ballantine.

“Is that the only bill he signed?” The NRA apologists intone. I answered that there were lots of gun-related bills debated, and a few signed into law, in the 2001-2002 and 2003-2004 sessions of the General Assembly, but none that warranted upgrading Easley to an “A.” Frankly, I had hoped not to have to take the time to go back into both electronic and paper files to find the items on which GRNC based its 0-star evaluation of Easley. Since the coordinated attacks don’t seem interested in going away, however, here it is.


In the early 2000s, anti-gun politicians were still smarting from losses in both 1994 and 2000. Leading the effort to hide anti-gun policies behind neutral rhetoric was an entity calling itself “Americans for Gun Safety.” I say “entity” because AGS was not a chartered organization. It was, in fact, a project of a hardcore left-wing San Francisco-based organization currently being discussed by Glenn Beck – The Tides Center and its political arm, the “Tsunami Fund.” Lacking a formal charter, “Americans for Gun Safety” was one of a long series of non-profit money laundering deals made by Tides leader Drummond Pike, using money from billionaire Andrew McKelvey of The NRA correctly denounced McKelvey many times.

So imagine our surprise when Bruce Thompson, member of Parker, Poe, Adams & Bernstein, lobbyists for the state’s primary gun control group, “North Carolinians Against Gun Violence,” showcased their latest legislative initiative to the NC Child Fatality Task Force: New legislation to stop alleged “gun trafficking” in the form of HB 1744and SB 1434.

Imagine too, our surprise, to receive a letter from then-Governor Mike Easley reiterating that he had personally endorsed the grant proposal for NCGV to AGS – a proposal of $60,000, if memory serves – to make those bills and other gun control bills a reality for North Carolina.

Then we checked the Secretary of State listings for registered lobbyists, and found Parker, Poe representatives now registered not for NCGV, but for the Tsunami Fund. To put this in context, funding of this magnitude for NCGV was designed to run gun show legislation, mental health record release, and a plethora of other long-sought gun control. Specifically, the bills above would have:

  • Created a huge mental health database with the NC Department of Health & Human Services;
  • Released private medical records to DHHS for use in gun purchase background checks;
  • Not stipulated procedures for accessing private medical data;
  • Created a “Crime Gun Interdiction Task Force” to which anti-gun leaders such as Sen. Marc Basnight would appoint unresponsive bureaucrats to promulgate still more calls for gun control.


But don’t take my word for it: Let us look at the letter Easley himself signed. The accompanying graphic is a scan of an old photocopy, so please allow me to transcribe it (emphasis added to highlights). Anyone wishing a copy of the letter and its accompanying NCGV proposal can get a copy by mailing a $25 donation to Grass Roots North Carolina marked “Easley Sellout” and mailed to GRNC at PO Box 10665. Raleigh, NC 27605.


January 29, 2002

Ms. Lisa Price
Executive Director
North Carolinians Against Gun Violence
P.O. Box 9204
Chapel Hill, NC 27515

Dear Ms. Price:

Thank you for your letter regarding your organization’s initiative to keep guns out of the hands of terrorists and criminals. As you know, my administration supported your organization’s grant proposal for private funding to Americans for Gun Safety entitled Cracking down on Gun Crime: A Proposal to Enforce Gun Laws and Toughen Penalties Against Gun Runners in North Carolina.

My administration supports such measures in your organization’s Cracking Down on Gun Crime initiative as: creating a state gun trafficking task force; providing training to police and prosecutors; strengthening efforts to trace illegal guns; providing law enforcement with better tools; and modernizing criminal records to keep guns out of the wrong hands.

As you may know, previously as Attorney General and now as Governor, I have supported legislation to close the gun show loophole in North Carolina.

Rest assured that I will share your thoughts with the members of North Carolina’s Congressional Delegation and my administration. In addition, I will share your letter with Secretary of Crime Control and Public Safety Bryan Betty, who is the chairman of my Anti-Terrorism Taskforce here in North Carolina.

With warmest regards, I remain

Very truly yours,

Michael F. Easley



The NRA apologists have made much of whether the only bill signed during Easley’s administration was the license plate bill, but I never said it was. The early 2000s were busy legislative years. Principal gun legislation debated included:

  • HB 320 for mandatory gun storage (which GRNC branded “The Rapist Protection Act” and killed in a clean, recorded floor vote in the NC House);
  • HB 442 for concealed handgun reciprocity, which died;
  • HB 622: “Firearms Regulation Amendments,” which passed overwhelmingly in both the House and Senate, but only after failure of the NRA initial effort to protect gun makers from litigation failed. That bill was SB 680, and is the bill which NRA lobbyist Nicole Palya called me about to tell me the NRA was allowing the entirety of a gun show bill, SB 1097, to be merged into the bill via a committee substitute. Only when SB 680 mired down (See CLT Observer, “Gun bill in middle has few takers,” 6-17-01) thanks to pressure applied by GRNC did the NRA move HB 622. Did Easley sign it? Yes. Did he have much choice? No. The bill passed the House by 101-16, the Senate by 42-5 and concurrence by 93-11, making a veto (unlikely in any case) almost certain to be over-ridden. To see the full measure of NRA subterfuge, I encourage people to examine SB 680at where you will find Part 2 contains the gun show language which Anthony Roullette of the NRA and others were saying was not in the bill.
  • HB 842: “Gun Sale Legal With Concealed Handgun Permit,” which I wrote, Pryor Gibson sponsored, and which passed the House but never got a hearing in the Senate;
  • SB 33: “Concealed Handgun Reciprocity.” This was a GRNC-initiated bill which NRA lobbyist Jennifer Palmer cooperated with members of the Attorney General’s office to gut in a Proposed Committee Substitute the night before the bill’s hearing. Fortunately, with the help of subcommittee members Patrick McHenry (whom GRNC later supported for Congress) and Jeff Barnhart, the bill was cleaned up and passed. An Easley veto would likely have failed here too, since the bill passed the Senate and House by veto-resistant majorities of 45-2 and 93-15, respectively.


SB 919:“Homicide Prevention Act/Domestic Violence,”
In the period during which anti-gun activists were also using “domestic violence” bills to pass gun control, Easley also signed SB 919, which contained the following:

"§ 50B-3.1. Surrender and disposal of firearms; violations; exemptions.

(a) Required Surrender of Firearms. – Upon issuance of an emergency or ex
parte order pursuant to this Chapter, the court shall order the defendant to surrender to
the sheriff all firearms, machine guns, ammunition, permits to purchase firearms, and
permits to carry concealed firearms that are in the care, custody, possession, ownership,
or control of the defendant if the court finds any of the following factors ...

In case you are interested, “ex parte” hearings can be held without the defendant ever getting a chance to defend himself in court, meaning that in a messy divorce, a plaintiff could get the spouses firearms confiscated with virtually no due process of law.

HB 1354: “Strengthen Domestic Violence Laws”
This bill created a permanent, irreversible prohibition on firearm ownership even by people convicted of non-violent crimes. Unlike federal law, under which people can apply for restoration of rights, no such recourse exists in NC law thanks to this bill. Interestingly, the North Carolina Supreme Court was more pro-gun than either Easley or (apparently) the NRA when it overturned the conviction of Barney Britt on this in “Barney Britt v. State of North Carolina.”


Of bills tracked by GRNC, Easley signed two pro-gun bills and two anti-gun bills, giving him a poor 50% bill support. Worse, he endorsed a grant proposal designed to saddle lawful North Carolinians with years of gun control underwritten by a billionaire leftist and orchestrated by the tentacles of the Tides Center and its Tsunami Fund.

Ironically, it was GRNC who ensured the legislation never saw the light of a committee hearing: We bill branded it as “The Medical Records Disclosure Act,” and ran radio spots in Raleigh which directed phone calls to the governor’s office demanding that he retract “his” legislation. While the spots were running, n NCGV lobbyist Bruce Thompson cornered me in the stairwell of the Legislative Office Building and said: “This is the lowest thing you’ve ever done.”

I replied, “Coming from a gun control lobbyist, Bruce, I’ll take that as a compliment.”

Easely signed two anti-gun bills and two pro-gun bills likely to pass with or without his support. Then he supported a measure certain to provide future gun control and expressed his own support for a variety of anti-gun measures.

Does this deserve an upgrade by the NRA from “F” to “A”? Should the NRA have supporter him over Partick Ballantine, a proven Second Amendment supporter with a 100% pro-gun voting record? You decide.

To readers:

Please accept my apologies but due to the apparent attempt to tie up my time during an important election cycle during which I am orchestrating mailings into 15 districts and radio spots into two, plus the distribution of 110,000 “Remember in November” voter guides, the NRA apologists are tying up entirely too much time. Consequently, I will be unable to answer or accept comments to this and other pieces, which will be removed by Once the election is behind us, I hope to catch up.

Time to keep our eye on the ball and elect some pro-gun candidates...



  • sidwasout 4 years ago

    A quick check of the NC General Assembly website shows that both SB 919 and HB 1354 passed by almost unanimous votes. So, by Paul's reckoning, it is unlikely that any legislator currently in office who was in office then (and that's a lot of them) cannot possibly have a perfect voting record. So, what does the GRNC guide say?

  • Ken Soderstrom 4 years ago

    Sleazy Easley was clearly no friend to gun owners, and NRA's support of this apparently corrupt former governer is the type of cynical position that has left true patriots scratching their heads. What happened to a once great organization? Easley's probably going to be indicted after the election and so likely will have plenty of time to reconsider his unconstitutional history.

  • Anonymous 4 years ago

    Easly is a democrat and the NRA is a has been as far as protecting 2nd amendment rights is concerned . I rest my case .

  • sidwasout 4 years ago

    Uh, wrong posting, Paul. That was in another thread. I'm glad you don't get any money out of GRNC, though. No expenses even? Good for you! That's commitment.

    But if I'm making you money here, why on earth would you want to push me away with the threat of a "harassment investigation"? Or maybe that wasn't directed at me.

    You are aware that you are intentionally provoking responses, though, right? So, if you post something designed to provoke a response, how can you go crying to that you are getting "harassed" by the responses you actually wanted? And get paid for? Doesn't really make sense, does it?

    BTW, what "personal slur" did I make? Point it out, and I will be glad to publicly apologize if you took something the wrong way.

  • Jeff Rau 4 years ago

    Are any of you really saying you think Easley was a supporter of 2A or self-defense? If so then make your case. Whay did he do to earn your support. Was it simply an NRA endorsement?

    Easley even tried to kill a pro self-defense law after he signed it. HB 1311 was a bill intended to make it easier for domestic violence victims to get emergency CHPs. The only part that passed was to inform the DV victim about getting a CHP. And Easley signs the bill only after making a deal with to remove the language in another bill.

    Thanks to GRNC the language was not removed.

    Again, what has Easley done that earns your support?

  • Jeff Rau 4 years ago

    Also as governor Easley did support gun control. Including a letter he wrote supporting a bill which among other bad things would have allowed the government access to a lot of medical and mental health records of anyone treated a certain facilities.

    He signed 1 pro self-defense bill only after making a deal to gut the bill in a technical corrections bill, as if it was a typo. The bill passed by enormous margins in both chambers.

    And I might add, what Easley did as AG doesn't just evaporate because he became governor. His anti-gun/self-defense actions as AG speak volumes.

    If Easley had been perfect as governor, without going into the records I guess he could have earned 1 or 2 stars.

    Go back in time and the NRA itself said Easley could not go from an F to an A in 4 years.

  • Ken Soderstrom 4 years ago

    Sid, that's what we're trying to tell you: quit clinging to your NRA ratings - they're designed only to promote the power and influence of NRA, not to promote and defend your right to keep and bear arms.

    If you can't figure-out who to vote for yourself, don't worry, we'll help you. That's what GRNC does; help NC gun owners. We're willing to help NRA learn to promote rather than deprive you of rights, but they appear too busy playing 3D Vulcan chess with Harry "Sotomayor and Kagan, please" Reid.

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