The NRA is busy inflating the ratings of and sometimes endorsing anti-gun and mediocre candidates in General Assembly races across the state. If they are allowed to succeed, Joe Hackney, the Speaker with a 14% voting record who even the NRA gives an “F,” will get the opportunity to draw political districts which will saddle you with anti-gun legislators for the next ten years …
The latest series of articles has documented systematic flaws which make NRA ratings and endorsements at best an unreliable means of judging which candidates support the Second Amendment. NRA apologists have responded with a variety of feints designed to distract from the central issue – that the NRA systematically endorses anti-gun candidates – and to undermine the credibility of the many other groups which have long recognized NRA malfeasance. Among those apologists is an individual, who refuses to identify himself, whom some believe may be none other than Chuck Cunningham, NRA Director of Federal Affairs.
Among the deliberately time-wasting demands made by the NRA apologists, they have called for votes used by Grass Roots North Carolina (GRNC) in conducting candidate evaluations, claiming that such information should be at our fingertips. Ironically, the organization they defend does not release such information at all; aside from broad statements about what its ratings are supposed to mean, the NRA does not tell people how it arrives at ratings and endorsements.
By contrast, GRNC is open about what factors are used in its objective “Remember in November” candidate evaluation system. That does not mean, however, that one spreadsheet contains 16+ years of all data on all candidates tracked by our organization. In fact, the master “Remember in November” candidate database for 2010 tracks no less than 77 data fields. Finding data on individual votes (and more importantly, what they mean) requires going back to each legislative session in which a candidate served. Moreover, even the General Assembly web site does not keep the language of floor amendments made to bills. That means going into paper files.
Difficulties aside, I decided take several hours away from election-related radio spots and mailings to satisfy the apologists’ demand with respect to one race critical to North Carolina gun owners: NC House Majority Leader Hugh Holliman.
Hailing from Lexington, NC and representing District 81 in Davidson County, Democrat Hugh Holliman has enjoyed relatively consistent NRA support for his 5 terms in office. In his first run in 2000, in what was then District 37, he received an NRA B+ but not the endorsement, which went to A-rated Cindy Akins.
In 2002, Holliman’s bid for District 81 drew an NRA A and endorsement against B+ rated John Walsler, Jr. which was repeated when he ran unopposed in 2004. Perhaps the NRA apologists can fill us in on his 2006 rating, which I lack, but in 2008 the NRA endorsed him over GRNC 4-star challenger Rayne Brown – an election she lost by only 1300 votes despite both the NRA endorsement of Holliman and a political climate hostile to conservatives in general.
WHAT HAS HOLLIMAN DONE TO DESERVE NRA ENDORSEMENTS?
At first blush, Holliman doesn’t look so bad. In 2001-2002, he voted for the following pro-gun legislation (vote counts in parentheses): HB 842: “Gun Sale w/Concealed Handgun Permit,” (101-9); HB 442: “Concealed Handgun Permit Reciprocity” (99-7); SB 680: “Lawful Firearm Activities Protected” (the cleaned up version lacking gun show language) (99-10); and HB 622: “Firearm Regulation Amendments” (101-16 for 2nd Reading and 93-11 for concurrence).
In 2003-2004, he voted for HB 131: “Concealed Handgun Reciprocity” (99-11); HB 817: “Gun Sale Legal w/Concealed Handgun Permit” (93-24); and SB 33: “Concealed Handgun Reciprocity” (93-15). In 2005-2006, he even voted for GRNC’s HB 1311: “Domestic Violence Empowerment Act” (82-28) as well as pro-gun on Amendment 1 to the bill. (2)
If you look at the data above, you will notice a pattern: (1) All votes but one are for final passage; (2) All are the type of votes commonly used for candidate rating; and (3) All are so thoroughly lopsided that virtually nobody voted against them. On HB 842, for example, Holliman was joined in the “ayes” by such pro-gun bastions as Dan Blue (38% pro-gun voting record), Ruth Easterling (18% pro-gun voting record), and Larry Womble (also 18%).
There are three reasons anti-gun politicians vote for a pro-gun bill:
- They know it will pass and want to look good in a recorded vote;
- Their party leaders control at least the opposite chamber and assure them it won’t get a hearing there; and/or
- The bill is so gutless and/or non-controversial that voting against it would be the sort of purely symbolic action taken by only the most virulently anti-gun politician.
The lopsided votes listed above result in each case from one or more of these reasons, and demonstrate that no candidate evaluation system is perfect. (Yes, GRNC did use the votes as the best available measure).
WHAT HOLLIMAN DOES WHEN YOU AREN’T LOOKING
But now let’s look at what Hugh Holliman does when he thinks he can get away with it, or when gun control stands a very real chance of passage:
Holliman voted FOR HB 320: “Safe Storage of Firearms” (83-33)
This extreme bill, sponsored by Rep. Jennifer Weiss in 2001, would have subjected gun owners to prosecution if a firearm was taken from them and used by a minor, even if the gun had been stored responsibly, and even if the minor had not misused the firearm. The single and only way to be sure of avoiding prosecution would have been to store the firearm and ammunition both locked up and separately, making them useless for self protection. The bill went down in flames in a clean recorded floor vote only because GRNC filled each legislator’s e-mail and voicemail with upwards of 500 contacts, all saying: “PLEASE OPPOSE HB 320, THE ‘RAPIST PROTECTION ACT.’” The barrage so unsettled Weiss that she actually stood before the House to defend her bill by saying, “I would never introduce a ‘Rapist Protection Act.” When it really mattered, Holliman voted against gun owners by voting for the bill – one of 33 (all Democrats) who did so.
Holliman voted FOR HB 1287: “Report Denial of Some Pistol Permits” (88-27, 81-34)
Sponsored by Reps. Ronnie Sutton (GRNC 1-star), Maggie Jeffus, (0-star), and Pricey Harrison (0-star), this bill morphed from a one to keep people from applying for pistol purchase permits from sheriffs in other counties after being denied one in their own (a suicide reportedly happened this way) into a massive SBI database to which anyone denied a purchase permit would be relegated for eight years. As you may recall, sheriffs routinely exercise the discretion granted them to deny purchase permits for the most arbitrary reasons, such as limiting the number of permits they issue per year or even deciding an applicant isn’t of “good moral character.”
Translated, anyone denied a pistol purchase permit for any arbitrary reason would have ended up in an SBI database. In some versions of the bill, their name could have been handed to the FBI, which was under no obligation to purge that information – ever.
Yet Holliman voted for this bill. Worse, thanks to Lincoln County Republican (and former sheriff) Joe Kiser’s support for the bill, enough Republicans voted for it that it passed. (And yes, GRNC dinged the voting record of any Republican who voted for it.) Fortunately, GRNC pressure kept it from getting a hearing in the Senate, and the bill ultimately died.
Holliman voted FOR HB 1847: “Report Lost or Stolen Gun” (41-77)
Based on boilerplate legislation run by Handgun Control, Inc. (a/k/a/ “The Brady Center”) across the country, HB 1847 was sponsored by Reps. Larry Hall (0-star), Earl Jones (1-star), and Paul Luebke (a 0-star whose anti-gun voting record of 10% is surpassed only by the present Speaker, Joe Hackney, with 4%).
The bill Holliman voted for would have made criminals of gun owners whose guns were stolen from them or lost unless they reported the loss within 48 hours if they knew or “reasonably should have known” of the loss. The “reasonably should have known” language would have been used against gun owners unaware of gun thefts and, typical of gun control, would have punished gun owners rather than criminals. Despite Holliman’s support for the bill, it failed.
Holliman voted to weaken pro-gun bills
HB 131: Before voting for passage of this concealed handgun reciprocity bill, Holliman voted twice to weaken it on Amendments 1 and 2, offered by Phil Haire (0-star) and Jennifer Weiss (0-star), respectively. Both of the amendments, which failed, would have restricted reciprocity to only those states with “substantially similar training standards,” meaning few of the present 34-odd states where NC permits are presently valid would have qualified. (3)
And the truly duplicitous…
Remember when we said Holliman voted pro-gun on GRNC’s HB 1311: “Domestic Violence Empowerment Act?” In the weakened form that eventually passed, all the bill did was to require courts to notify domestic abuse victims that they could apply for expedited emergency concealed handgun permits to protect themselves from abusers who were murdering their spouses at alarming rates. It didn’t even require sheriffs to issue the emergency permits. But apparently that was too much for the Governor NRA apologists claim is pro-gun – Mike Easley.
Said the Raleigh News & Observer (4):
“Gov. Mike Easley has signed a bill that would encourage victims of domestic violence to seek emergency concealed gun permits -- but he now wants lawmakers to reverse it. Easley had ‘concerns,’ according to a spokeswoman, about the measure's central provision: a requirement that court clerks tell victims who obtain protective orders how to apply for an emergency carry permit. The governor signed the bill late Saturday only after receiving assurances from House Speaker Jim Black that the requirement would be lifted in separate legislation, perhaps this week, Easley spokeswoman Cari Boyce said. Black spokeswoman Julie Robinson confirmed that account.
The vehicle originally picked by our leaders in the General Assembly was a “technical corrections” bill aimed at correcting typos. That’s right: Governor Mike Easley postured by signing a bill he had every intention of subverting by treating it as a typo. This is the former governor that NRA apologists claim GRNC has unfairly maligned.
Details of the subterfuge
GRNC immediately responded by blasting the Governor and Speaker with e-mails and calls. What followed was nothing short of a legislative shell game in which Democrats furiously held impromptu committee meetings and, using “proposed committee substitutes” (PCS), stripped old contents out of un-passed bills and added new language to reverse the pro-gun language of HB 1311. At one point, Sen. Tony Rand (in 2004, NRA A-rated with endorsement, GRNC 0-star) actually convened a meeting of the Rules Committee on the Senate chamber floor during session.
Ultimately, the House Democrats did a PCS on court study bill, SB 173, by striking the word “shall” and inserting “may,” potentially rendering the bill moot:
“The Administrative Office of the Courts shall may develop a 17 standard informational sheet for plaintiffs issued protective orders under Chapter 50B of 18 the General Statutes that explains the plaintiffs' right to apply for a permit under 19 G.S. 14-415.15."
Ultimately, the subterfuge failed by a vote of 49-57. But guess who was on the wrong side of that vote? Guess who voted to disarm victims of domestic violence and leave them at the mercy of abusers? You guessed it…
EXERCISING ANTI-GUN LEADERSHIP
Most recently, Holliman has been promoted to House Majority Leadership where he, Joe Hackney and Judiciary Chair Deborah Ross (GRNC 0-star) have been undermining your rights by killing no less than 9 bills which could have enabled you to better protect your family. (5) Yes, they include restaurant carry, concealed handguns in parks, carriage during states of emergency, and the ever-popular Castle Doctrine – one bill for which actually passed the Senate before being bottled up by Holliman/Ross in the House.
So out of a total of 23 gun votes cast by Hugh Holliman in five terms, he voted right 14 times – principally when it didn’t make much difference and he knew you were looking – and voted against you 9 times – usually when he didn’t think you would know, and when it really counted.
Yet the NRA has endorsed Holliman against far superior challenger Rayne Brown in a race in which she can not only win, but help change the balance of power to remove virulently anti-gun liberal Joe Hackney from the Speaker’s chair.
WHAT NRA MALFEASANCE MEANS TO YOU
The NRA is busy inflating the ratings of and sometimes endorsing anti-gun and mediocre candidates in General Assembly races across the state. If they are allowed to succeed, Joe Hackney, the Speaker with a 14% voting record who even the NRA gives an “F,” will get the opportunity to draw political districts which will saddle you with anti-gun legislators for the next ten years.
- GRNC uses votes for Second Readings but not Third ratings because after the Second Reading, passage or failure of the bill is pre-ordained and politicians scuttle to the side most likely to help them. It is common to see an anti-gun politician vote against pro-gun legislation on the Second, but for it on the Third. Often times, a recorded vote for Third Reading is waived by unanimous consent. An exception to GRNC’s policy is made if the bill is amended during the floor debate for Third Reading, as was the case with HB 1287 in the 2007-2008 session.
- HB 131, 442, 817, 842 & 1311 and SB 33 were GRNC-led initiatives for concealed handgun reciprocity and for bypassing sheriffs’ restrictions on handgun purchase permits.
- Although HB 131 passed the House, Senate Democrats denied it a hearing, killing it. SB 33 became the eventual vehicle for concealed handgun reciprocity.
- “Domestic violence bill signed but Easley is uneasy about telling victims how to apply for a concealed gun permit,” News & Observer, August 30, 2005.
- Below are the bills killed by denial of committee hearings in the NC House being directed by Joe Hackney and Hugh Holliman:
H 269 Concealed Handgun Permit Valid in Parks.
H 270 Personal Protection in Restaurants.
H 1133 Firearm in Locked Motor Vehicle/Parking Lot.
Bill text http://www.ncleg.net/Sessions/2009/Bills/House/PDF/H1133v1.pdf
Bill history http://www.ncleg.net/gascripts/BillLookUp/BillLookUp.pl?Session=2009&Bil...
H 257 No Seizure of Lawful Firearms in Emergency.
Bill text http://www.ncleg.net/Sessions/2009/Bills/House/PDF/H257v1.pdf
Bill history http://www.ncleg.net/gascripts/BillLookUp/BillLookUp.pl?Session=2009&Bil...
H 2031 No Seizure of Firearms in Emergency/Funds.
H1234 Firearms Allowed In Certain State Parks.
H 1131 Castle Doctrine for NC.
S 928 The Castle Doctrine
H 1241 Allow Concealed Handgun Certain Locations.