June 14, 2022
The Honorable Thom Tillis
113 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Senator Tillis:
You are reportedly central to the effort to negotiate a bipartisan "compromise" on gun legislation in the U.S. Senate. A press release by Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) and news reports suggest you have reached general consensus on a "framework" for legislation to include federal funding for state-level "red flag" gun confiscation laws, as well as a variety of other measures, several of which have nothing to do with the Uvalde and Buffalo killings which are the ostensible catalyst for this legislation.
For example, restrictions on the ability of gun owners to sell firearms from private collections have no bearing on mass murder and represent nothing less than an attempt to capture more transactions using the National Instant Background Check System (NICS) which, according to the BATFE reply to a FOIA request by House Republicans in which it confessed to possessing 920 million transaction records,1 is apparently already being exploited to create an illegal gun registry in violation of both the 1993 Brady Act and the 1986 Firearms Owners Protection Act. Grass Roots North Carolina vociferously opposes any effort to expand the number of transactions captured by NICS.
Of even greater concern are red flag gun confiscation orders (GCOs). Although your video message claims you won't support any proposal that lacks due process for the accused, the fact is that all gun confiscation laws allow for ex parte hearings in which the accused may be denied both knowledge that a hearing is taking place and the opportunity to defend himself, reflecting inadequate due process under the Fifth Amendment.
Although you cite Florida's gun confiscation law as a model, reports from Florida suggest widespread discrimination and abuse of the law2, including uneven application between counties and gun confiscation orders being issued to children as young as age eight.3 Because guns are confiscated in civil rather than criminal procedures, the accused is not entitled to court-appointed counsel, meaning the law discriminates against those without the financial means to challenge spurious orders.
Evidence suggests that spurious gun confiscation orders are common. Testimony to the U.S. Senate by David Kopel of the Independence Institute suggests that fully one-third of GCOs are reversed because they should never have been issued.4 Because many people lack financial means to challenge the orders, the rate of abuse is probably significantly higher.
Nor do gun confiscation orders save lives. A 2018 study of GCOs by Dr. John Lott and Professor Carl Moody of the Crime Prevention Research Center found "no significant effect on murder, suicide, the number of people killed in mass public shootings, robbery, aggravated assault, or burglary."5
In truth, mental health professionals routinely admit to being unable to predict future violence by individuals, making GCO laws ineffective at stopping either violent crime or mass murder, as well as being an unconstitutional infringement on the civil liberties of lawful gun owners.
The good news, Sen. Tillis, is that I am offering you an opportunity to correct this misguided approach. On June 24 at 10:00 AM EDT, we are planning a demonstration at your district office in Raleigh. For that demonstration, GRNC is bringing in Mr. Stephen Willeford, whom you may recall is the hero who stopped the mass killing at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, TX by using his own AR-15 rifle to incapacitate the killer and saving an untold number of lives.
Stephen Willeford is the quintessential "good guy with a gun." A modest and peaceful man of faith, he not only understands but has personally experienced the fact that only armed self-defense will deter or stop violent sociopaths from committing mass murder.
Accordingly, please consider this my open invitation for you to meet and learn from Mr. Willeford at our June 24 event. Please have your staff contact me to arrange details. I can be reached at either [email protected] or at (704) 907-9206.
Armatissimi e liberissimi,
F. Paul Valone
President, Grass Roots North Carolina
Executive Director, Rights Watch International
Radio host, Guns, Politics and Freedom
1. John Crump, "TF Keeping 920+ Million Firearm Records with Almost All Digitized," January 31, 2022, Ammoland.com, https://www.ammoland.com/2022/01/atf-keeping-920-million-searchable-firearm-records/#ixzz7WC7bBBXg
2. "Florida's Red Flag Law is Discriminatory and is Being Abused!" Katz & Phillips, P.A., February 14, 2020, https://thefirearmfirm.com/floridas-red-flag-law-is-discriminatory-and-is-being-abused/
3. "Red flag law used against young kids in Florida 'shocking,' says Florida Senator," October 9, 2019, WPTV News, https://www.youtube.com/watch?app=desktop&v=OzsHYxHRhoM
4. David B. Kopel, "Red Flag Laws: Examining Guidelines for State Action," written testimony to U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, March 26, 2019, https://www.judiciary.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Kopel%20Testimony1.pdf
5. John R. Lott and Carlisle E. Moody, "Do Red Flag Laws Save Lives or Reduce Crime?" December 28, 2018, https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3316573