To: The Honorable Phil Berger, President, Pro Tempore
From: F. Paul Valone, President, Grass Roots North Carolina
Re: Senate Bill 90

Dear Senator Berger:

Having read your Facebook message in support of the Proposed Committee Substitute (PCS) for Senate Bill 90 (originally, “Protect Religious Meeting Places”), it is regrettable the bill fell short of expectations. That said, however, I suspect you will agree that it is unproductive to have members of the Senate Republican Caucus denouncing the state’s primary gun rights organization, especially considering the help our political action committee has given conservative political candidates to the North Carolina General Assembly.

In a letter Sen. Dan Britt recently sent to those who contacted his office regarding the S90 PCS, he dismissed our concerns, saying: “Language in the PCS clearly states ‘shall issue’ and nowhere did it state ‘may issue,’ as has been reported by GRNC.”

In truth, what the PCS says is far less important than what it does. Under the proposed G.S. 14-415.12(a1)(2), an applicant for the new “Class A” (concealed handgun) permit would also have to qualify for a “Class B” (pistol purchase) permit. And under the proposed G.S. 14-415.12(a)(4), an applicant for the Class B permit would have to satisfy a sheriff of their “good moral character” – an arbitrary clause dating from 1919 which was originally used to deny guns to minorities during the Jim Crow era, and has since been used for generations to wrongfully obstruct handgun purchases.

I’m sure you are familiar with the transitive property of equality: if A equals B and B equals C, then A equals C. In this case, if a concealed handgun applicant must also meet the requirements for a purchase permit, and the purchase permit allows sheriffs to arbitrarily pronounce “good moral character,” then concealed handgun applicants are subject to sheriffs’ “good moral character” judgment, which would make concealed handgun permits “may issue.”

As I said in a recent alert, this debacle could have been avoided if Sen. Britt had simply contacted stakeholders – including GRNC – when drafting the PCS. Britt told me he was “under the impression” we had been contacted, but apparently “impressions” can be misleading: the first we heard of the S90 PCS was when it was presented as a “done deal.” Moreover, despite Sen. Britt’s assertion, no “supporting documents” were ever sent to our organization.

One organization, however, apparently was consulted. According to Britt, the North Carolina Sheriffs Association had a hand in drafting the bill, and seems to have done a fine job of drafting language to expand money and power for its members at the expense of gun owners.

Said Sen. Britt in his letter to GRNC supporters, “At the request of Grass Roots [sic] representative Paul Valone, I will not make an effort this session to ease the pistol purchase permit requirement.” In truth, what I asked Sen. Britt to do – and am asking you to do as well – is to “ease” the pistol purchase permit requirement by repealing it entirely. As I’m sure you agree, racist Jim Crow language originally intended to deny guns to blacks has no place in modern statutes.

There can be little doubt that GRNC and gun voters have supported ostensible Senate conservatives. As you know, in 2018 the GRNC Political Victory Fund made independent expenditures – including mailings, automated telephone alerts, social media advertising and radio spots – for a number of Senate Republicans, including Carl Ford, Wesley Meredith, Jeff Tarte, and Trudy Wade.

As a senator in his second term, Britt attempted to explain the “political realities” to me, insisting that a vote for full repeal of the purchase permit law would expose Republicans in marginal districts to defeat. As I explained to him, in my twenty-five years of political action, the reality I have discovered is that the longer a party holds power, the more it clings to power. The more it clings to power, the more risk-averse it becomes. And the more risk-averse it becomes – resulting in little or no action on behalf of voters who gave it a majority – the less enthusiastic its base becomes, eventually deserting the party at the polls and leading to loss of its majorities. I fear that is what we are experiencing today.

Sen. Britt also said, of me: “If he changes his mind and would like a seat at the table to meet in a professional manner along with representatives from the National Rifle Association we will be glad to work with him going forward.”

Ignoring for a moment that the “seat at the table” pablum is typically directed at those whom politicians deem to be underlings, I suspect you share my concerns about the “professionalism” of the NRA. The group was absent from the current debate, perhaps due to its ongoing internal struggles. And you probably remember the days we sat together in your office, when the Democrats controlled the legislature, lamenting NRA endorsements for anti-gun Democrats such as Senate President Pro Tem Marc Basnight, Speaker Jim Black, and Governors Jim Hunt and Mike Easley.

In your Facebook message touting the bill, you expressed your support for the Second Amendment. In years past, you were indeed a Second Amendment stalwart. But rather than relying on a flawed bill like the S90 PCS to demonstrate your support, I suggest you pass legislation to protect churches which happen to be co-located with schools, to protect children from violent sociopaths by arming faculty members, or even for permit-less concealed carry such as House Bill 746, which in the last session passed the House but died for lack of a Senate hearing.

As always, I stand ready to help you defend and regain our constitutionally guaranteed freedoms.

Armatissimi e liberissimi, 


F. Paul Valone
President, Grass Roots North Carolina
Executive Director, Rights Watch International
Radio host, Guns, Politics and Freedom

P.S. With Donald Trump in the White House and the Democrat-controlled US House so far held at bay, some gun rights supporters have become complacent. Keep in mind that at this time, we are one election away from having our gun rights gutted. Please consider giving $100, $50, or even $25 today!