8th District Republican debate: Gun rights perspective

F. Paul Valone


GRNC Second Amendment question featured in debate


8th District Republican DebateIn last night's 8th Congressional District Republican debate, any one of the five contenders would likely serve conservatives and Second Amendment supporters better than incumbent Democrat Larry Kissell. But as a strict constitutionalist with wit, gravitas and a nuanced understanding of issues foreign and domestic, it was Vernon Robinson who dominated the debate.


Earning GRNC's highest 4-star evaluation, Robinson has a long history of supporting gun rights. As a Winston-Salem Alderman in 1999, he led a charge to repeal the city's ban on concealed carry in parks. In various roles as a candidate or campaign manager, he has always emphasized the Second Amendment. Late last year, he brought in Gun Owners of America Executive Director Larry Pratt for a campaign "machine gun social."


To be clear, Robinson was not the only gun rights supporter in the debate. Over years of various candidacies and as an Iredell County Commissioner, Scott Keadle has repeatedly vowed support to gun owners. Over nearly ten in the North Carolina House, Rep. Fred Steen has garnered a 100% pro-gun voting record, with seven pro-gun votes last year alone -- including standing with gun owners even when Republican House Majority Leader "Skip" Stam lured Republicans to the wrong side of three gun votes. Both Keadle and Steen have also earned GRNC 4-star evaluations.


The remaining two candidates profess support but lack histories on gun issues. Richard Hudson touts being "an avid hunter and outdoorsman." Neurosurgeon John Whitley professes to enjoy his guns and to have a concealed handgun permit.


In opening remarks, only two of the candidates emphasized gun rights, Robinson citing his years of activism in defense of the Second Amendment and Steen emphasizing his vote on Castle Doctrine in House Bill 650.


On other issues, ranging through term limits, earmarks, lobbyists, the Federal Reserve and international issues involving Iran, Pakistan and Israel, the most informed and nuanced positions were expressed by Robinson and Whitley, with others seeming sometimes "out of their depth." Hudson often sounded like the type of "country club Republican" which too often gets the party's blessing.

GRNC gun rights question used in debate


Significantly, only two conservative organizations were mentioned by debate moderator Wayne Powers as providing questions for the event: The John Locke Foundation, and Grass Roots North Carolina. Toward the end of the two-hour debate, Powers said: "We haven't touched on the Second Amendment yet. I want to do that now. I received an interesting letter from Mr. Paul Valone who, as you know, is with Grass Roots North Carolina and Rights Watch International, and I want to read it to you quickly:


"After Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was murdered, we learned that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms allowed 2,000 guns to be smuggled into Mexico in a covert operation named "Fast & Furious", that the agency made no effort to track them, and that hundreds murders may have resulted.


"Other federal agencies discovered the smuggling and were told to "stand down." Attorney General Holder testified he didn't know about any of these activities. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano testified she never talked with Holder about the murder.

"Meanwhile, CBS News reportedthat emails indicate BATF used "Fast & Furious" to justify requiring federal registration of multiple long gun sales in border states.

"If elected and being as specific as possible, what will you do to rein in an Attorney General who is hindering the investigation of "Fast & Furious," and to reverse the regulations BATF justified based on gun smuggling statistics which the agency itself artificially inflated?"


GRNC issued the question to look for a specific commitment from the candidates to repeal the BATF regulation and to remove Attorney General Holder. While all candidates denounced "Fast & Furious," we received only one such commitment.


Hudson gave pithy remarks about Holder being worse than Janet Reno before saying he had "called for" Holder to be replaced, further noting that he would oppose any legislation the Obama administration wants until Holder is replaced. Steen called "Fast & Furious" "worse than Watergate," offering "anything I can do" to oust Holder. Whitley talked about enjoying his guns and being a concealed handgun permit-holder before saying Holder "should be fired and brought up on charges." Keadle professed intent to take "every possible step" to get rid of Holder.


But only Robinson was specific: "It is important to remember why we have the Second Amendment. It is the guarantor of all rights, to protect you, the citizen, from tyranny. This is as close as we've ever been to tyranny because the government launched this effort in order to delegitimize the Second Amendment rights of our citizens; so they could use it to justify taking away our Second Amendment rights and that borders on treason...If I'm elected as your congressman, and Holder is still there, I will offer Articles of Impeachment because the guy ought to be impeached, tried, removed and jailed."

Thanks are due to the Cabarrus Republican Women, who hosted the debate, to event organizer Dianna Bingle, and to moderator Wayne Powers.


To hear the entire debate, go to: http://grnc.org/grnc-pvf/8th-district-republican-debate



Redistricting has created record numbers of political races across North Carolina to fill open seats. To have an impact, GRNC's political action committee, the GRNC Political Victory Fund, will need to mail election alerts to gun-owning voters, run radio spots, and make automated phone calls.


Only by filling seats with truly pro-gun candidates can we defend your rights, and further gains we made in the last session of the legislature. Only by demonstrating organization, determination, and clout can GRNC convince legislators to pass restaurant carry when the assembly convenes in May.


GRNC-PVF is giving you a chance to elect pro-gun legislators by winning a gun. What the GRNC-PVF gun raffle offers you a chance to win:


  • 1st Prize: Glock 27 (donated by Larry Hyatt of Hyatt Gun Shop)
  • 2nd Prize: Kahr Arms CW9 (donated by pistol smith Barry Washik of Sterling Pistols)
  • 3rd Prize:  Custom-made holster (donated by www.advancedholster.com)
  • 4th & 5th Prize: NC concealed carry classes (donated by instructor Jim Grindstaff and Lake Norman Firearms)
How to win a Glock or Kahr Arms pistol*

GRNC has updated ticket pricing. Tickets are now: 3/$10; 6/$20; 10/$30; 20/$50; or 40/$100. You can order tickets by going to:



Drawing will be held at the Fayetteville C&E gun show on August 5, 2012. Because mailing raffle tickets is against postal regulations, tickets will be scanned and the image of the ticket emailed to purchasers.


With your help, GRNC-PVF will hold politicians accountable in the election season for what they do in the legislative season.


This alert was sponsored and paid for by the GRNC Political Victory Fund.


* All transfers will be conducted in compliance with state and federal law.